A cult of devil worshippers slaughtered four people and dismembered their bodies to build a satanic altar they thought would help them win the lottery.
Three men lured their victims to a secluded house in the rural village of Iguatu, north-east Brazil, before torturing them and shooting them in the back of the neck.
They decapitated and dismembered the bodies of three men and one women before using the parts to invoke the devil during macabre rituals that included drinking a victim's blood.
Roberto Alves, 41, and 30-year-old Gleudson Barros, who are in custody awaiting trial, allegedly told police they would have killed more if they weren't caught.
Their 17-year-old accomplice, Samio Bessa, committed suicide before police could arrest him.
The victims' grim remains were found in shallow graves in the house and garden.
They were formally released for burial on Monday after an extensive forensic investigation pieced together the victims' final harrowing moments.
Detective Marcos Lira said: 'All the victims were tortured with stabbings, burns to their body and beatings before being killed in the same way, with a cloth placed over their heads then shot twice in the back of the neck and side of the head.
A .38 calibre revolver and spent cartridges were found in the house, which locals called the 'house of death'.
'The accused claimed these rituals were meant to summon the devil because they believed human sacrifices would help to improve their lives and change their fortunes since they had always been unlucky and poor,' explained Detective Lira.
'They were convinced their actions would help them win millions of (dollars) from the mega lottery, give them immeasurable power over people and dominance over any woman they desired.
'They claimed the souls of the (murdered) individuals were imprisoned in the house and their spirits would do whatever they wanted.'
Detectives confirmed the victims' identities through DNA tests and concluded, in an official report last Thursday, that the deaths were linked to the cult.
Police also released new images of the gruesome discoveries of the bodies identified as Francisco Lima, 41, Jheyderson de Oliveira, 24, Mikael Melo, 18 and Jaqueline da Silva, 17, showing the house where the rituals took place and the shallow graves where the corpses were buried.
The suspects, described by cops as 'psychopathic serial killers', had apparently planned to execute more than four people but their murderous motives were discovered after friends of one of the victims raised the alarm following his mysterious disappearance.
The four, all believed to be known to the defendants, were chosen and lured to the house with the promise of an alcohol-fuelled party.
Investigators said three women and two men had a narrowly escaped a similar fate after they were targeted by the clique but turned down the deadly invitation.
The body of the female victim was discovered buried in the two bedroom house in a pit located in a small dirt-floor room. The left hand had been severed and was found doused in thick salt stored in a pot.
Handfuls of the gross mixture had been thrown around the house and over the outside walls of the property owned by Alves.
The other teenage casualty was allegedly decapitated after being slaughtered. His skull was found set in a slab of concrete embedded with chains surrounded by a ring of protruding bolts.
The grisly specimen was allegedly arranged on an altar alongside satanic-related sculptures and 'objects and books linked to practising black magic rituals.'
The suspects blamed teen accomplice, Bessa, for killing all three victims singlehandedly, except Jaqueline, who was believed to be his girlfriend. Police reported that he committed suicide before he could be arrested.
The tragic girlfriend was reportedly slain by the other two who 'professed to have carved an inscription of a pentagon on her body after which the boyfriend drank her blood because he wanted money, women and power which he believed Satan would give him,' reported Detective Lira.
He added the 'ruthless villains' had apparently 'lied a lot and denied the crimes from the beginning of the investigation, consequently causing the families of the deceased a great deal of distress.'
It's taken over four months to question the suspects, conclude the findings and allow the remains to be released to relatives for burial, investigators said.
The first indication that the locals, some of whom had been missing for over a year, were all potentially connected to sinister practices emerged with the grim discovery of the corpse of the university student, known as Jhey to his friends.
Worried classmates of the victim, who was studying social work at Ceara's Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology, reported him missing after he failed to turn up to lectures for five days.
Colleagues told police Jhey knew one of the suspects and had spoken about meeting up with Barros, to go to a party.
Barros, who claimed to be a religious leader, initially denied knowing the victim but investigators found CCTV footage of him walking with Jhey on May 18, the night he vanished.
The accused's distinctive gait was recognised by his parents, revealed Detective Jerffison Pereira.
'(Gleudson) has a physical disability and drags his right leg when he walks which his parents pointed out. They also identified a back pack they said he always carried.'
The student's body was found in a one metre deep hole on May 23, approximately 10 metres from the house where he was allegedly sacrificed in a demonic ritual.
'The grave where Jhey was buried was a 'huge pit'. It had been prepared earlier for burying three women who the trio had planned to kill at their so called party. But the women failed to turn up for the event,' claimed prosecuting lawyer Leydomar Pereira.
The discovery of the recently buried corpse sparked a hunt for more victims.
A week later the remains of three others were found after the defendants reportedly revealed where they were buried.
Jaqueline's grisly remains, with hair still attached, was dug up from inside the house. Her family had registered her missing in June last year.
Mikael's headless body was found buried in a nearby forest close to a road. He disappeared in October 2017. His skull was used in the macabre altar.
The remains of the fourth victim, Francisco, who vanished last December, was found buried in thicket close to the property.
Police suspect there may be more bodies and are examining their database of missing people in the region.
The accused allegedly confessed that if they had not been arrested they would have continued on their ritualistic killing spree.
The defendants have appeared in court charged with murder, concealment of corpses, corruption of minors and the illegal possession of a firearm. They go on trial within the next six months.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.