Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Brazilian missionaries Vanderlei and Jacqueline Szczepanik and their 7-year-old son Christopher were last seen on December 17, 2009. Vanderlei and Jacqueline Szczepanik and their son had been staying Omaha, where Vanderlei Szczepanik, a carpenter, was working on renovating a former school into an Assembly of God church center. Friends and relatives in Brazil accustomed to hearing from the family each day reported them missing after they last made contact December 17, 2009.
Three men from Brazil, whom authorities say worked for the Szczepaniks and ran up thousands of dollars in charges on the family's credit cards, were later charged with murder, although the family's bodies hadn't been found.
Christopher Szczepanik was located in the Missouri River after one of three men charged in the deaths led authorities to the remains.
One of the men, Valdeir Goncalves-Santos, made a deal with prosecutors to testify against the other two. In exchange, Goncalves-Santos pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Investigators say Goncalves-Santo told them that the men beat Vanderlei Szczepanik to death with a baseball ball and hanged the boy and his mother, then threw the bodies in the river. The bodies were anchored with rope and pieces of heavy metal from the school that was being renovated. Goncalves-Santos then led authorities to the point on the river where he said remains would be found.
Another of the men, Jose Oliveira-Coutinho, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of theft. A warrant has been issued for the third man charged in the case, Elias Lourenco-Batista, who is believed to be in Brazil.
The Szczepaniks had been living in Omaha for five years before they disappeared.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Omaha Police Department
Investigator Jeff Kozeny