|“||You are really naive, I left home to kill somebody and found you... You are free.||”|
Dionathan Celestrino, a.k.a. "The Cross Maniac", is a Brazilian necrophilic serial killer, cult leader, and abductor who gained notoriety for committing the so-called Cross Murders when he was only sixteen years old.
Before committing the murders, Celestrino was already considered a strange individual. He slept in cemeteries and had an unusual interest in necrophilia, blood, and serial killers. He also became the leader of his own cult of Satan worshipers at some point in his life. In high school, he was described by teachers and peers as being a quiet student who had good grades and preferred to be alone but also enjoyed bullying black students by calling them "inferior". Celestrino was inspired to kill after reading about Francisco de Assis Pereira, who he considered his idol and even had a poster of him in his room. Celestrino also considered him to be his rival and promised that he would surpass his body count.
Murders, Arrest, and Incarceration
On the night of July 24, 2008, Celestrino murdered a mason named Catalino Gardena, posed his body in the position of a cross, and wrote the word "INRI" on his body (as a reference to Jesus, King of the Jews). Next month, Letícia de Oliveira was on her way to meet with a couple of friends when she was approached by Celestrino, who took her to a cemetery at knifepoint. There, she was strangled to death and her body was found not far way from her home. The crime scene left police officers and the population shocked, for her nude body was above a grave and in the position of a cross. At this point, the existence of a serial killer active in the town was considered a possibility and this sparked immense panic in the population. Next month, despite warnings against this, a girl named Carla left her house in the middle of the night and was approached by Celestrino while attempting to make a phone call. Celestrino threatened Carla at knifepoint, took her to an abandoned building, interviewed her, and ultimately released her after two hours.
A month later, Celestrino broke the cycle and strangled Gleice da Silva on October 6. Found next to her body was a note comprised of scrambled letters that, when read correctly, spelled out the word "INFERNO". After her body was found the next day, rumors began to spread across the town, such as the existence of a "must-kill list", but police denied these rumors. During the investigation, a comment on Silva's social media profile page, posted by an user named "Dog Hell 666", was found, saying, "THE DEAD CAN'T RECEIVE SCRAPS YOU SICKOS!" Police also discovered that an unknown number kept calling Silva's cellphone. They soon realized that Dog Hell and the individual calling Silva were Celestrino. He was discovered and arrested shortly after; he quickly confessed to the murders. Members of his cult were also arrested, as they were aware of Celestrino's murders. According to Celestrino, he killed people because he wanted them to find God but also claimed that he was an atheist, despite worshiping Satan. Years later, on March 3, 2013, Celestrino managed to escape from prison and went to Paraguay, but was arrested again. On September 20, 2015, Celestrino began throwing food at other inmates and attacked a guard with a pointy broken broomstick, injuring his arm. The next year, Celestrino had yet another psychotic breakdown and attempted to attack guards with a fork, while bragging about how famous he was and claiming that he was in charge of the prison, the judge, and the attorney.
Celestrino would roam the streets in the middle of the night until he found a suitable victim in 24th of each month, except for his third victim, Gleice Kelly da Silva, who was killed on October 6. He would also wear a black coat and face makeup to instill fear in his victims, and gloves as a forensic countermeasure. When he found a victim, he would take them to an non-populated area while threatening them with his pocket knife. At the location, he would interview the victim and after gathering enough information, decide if he or she deserved to live or die; if the victim was considered "unclean", Celestrino would kill the victim. He stabbed his first victim in the heart and asphyxiated him with a trash bag, but strangled his later victims to death. After killing them, he would remove their clothing for unspecified reasons, most likely due to his necrophiliac tendencies and thoughts. He would then pose his victims' bodies in a position resembling a cross, hence his nickname. Celestrino kept many trophies, such as Silva's clothes, Oliveira's bracelet, newspaper clippings about the murders and a piece of paper containing his victims' names and their fates; those who he killed were listed as "Dead", while Carla, his only surviving victim, was listed as "Saved".
A psychological report diagnosed him as being normal, but with schizophrenic tendencies. A second, more detailed report revealed that he had a severe case of sociopathy and was most likely to kill again if he was ever released from prison. The psychologist who interviewed Celestrino told police that he did not kill his victims for religious reasons, but to see their suffering.
- July 24: Catalino Gardena, 33 (killed for being a homosexual alcoholic; stabbed in the heart and asphyxiated with a trash bag)
- August 24: Letícia Neves de Oliveira, 22 (killed for being homosexual; manually strangled)
- September 24: Carla, 17 (surname unrevealed; abducted and intended to kill; was rescued)
- October 6: Gleice Kelly da Silva, 13 (killed for unknown reasons; manually strangled like the previous murder victim)
- September 20, 2015: Unnamed prison guard (stabbed in the arm with a broken broomstick; survived)
- August 8, 2016: Unnamed prison guards (attempted to stab with a fork)
- Celestrino is not the only serial killer to claim that he wanted to kill in order to surpass the Park Maniac's number of victims or to become more famous than him, as he is constantly viewed as Brazil's most notorious serial killer. There was another serial killer from the southern region of Brazil, Paulo Sérgio Guimarães, a.k.a. "The Cassino Beach Maniac", who targeted couples and was convicted of seven murders. Guimarães also told investigators that he wanted to become more famous than Pereira by having more victims, going as far as to say that "the south needed a maniac" and "I am the maniac from the south, I want to be more famous than the motoboy".
On Criminal Minds
- Season Five
- "The Performer" - While Celestrino was never directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Gina King - Both were young schizophrenic serial killers who had goth life styles, primarily targeted young women (though Celestrino's first victim was a man), took them to a secluded location, strangled their victims to death for delusional purposes, and wrote messages in blood on their victims post-mortem. Also, King licking the blood coming out of her victims seems to be an allusion to Celestrino licking his own blood.
Note: All sources are Portuguese only.