This São Paulo Murder Castle's Horrific History Left It Abandoned For Over 80 Years

Among the many strange unsolved crimes in the world, the Castelinho da Rua Apa murders are striking. A wealthy cinema magnate died and left his estate - an elaborate castle built in 1912 - and his fortune to be split between his two sons: brothers who couldn't have been more different in personality and interests. They each had different plans for how to use their father's inheritance, but before the estate had been resolved the brothers, along with their mother, were discovered murdered in their family castle in Brazil under mysterious circumstances. To top it all of, more than 80 years later it's the biggest unsolved murder in São Paolo. 

Obviously, it ended really badly. Because of its shady past and the unsolved crimes, the estate will forever be known as the São Paolo murder castle, but in recent years the government has finally allowed it to be put to good use housing a nonprofit homeless organization. The legacy is probably not at all what the original owner ever expected.

  • The Dead Bodies Appeared To Be Staged

    The Dead Bodies Appeared To Be Staged
    Photo: Kio The Horror / YouTube

    When Armando and Alvaro were found dead on the Castelinho floor alongside their mother Maria, something didn't appear normal (apart from the dead bodies, which is not a normal occurrence). Some investigators thought the scene was staged because of how awkwardly the bodies were positioned on the floor. They appeared to have been placed there, with each person laying perfectly flat on their back.

    Another troubling clue that lead investigators down this path was that only one gun was found, but the bullets in the victims were different, some from Alvaro's gun and some that matched a gun that was never found. This suggested to the police that another person might have been present at the crime scene, though no one was never successfully traced. They were also convinced that another murder weapon was involved, though of course it was never located.

  • The Patriarch Of The Family Died Suddenly And Left No Instructions For His Family

    The Patriarch Of The Family Died Suddenly And Left No Instructions For His Family
    Photo: YouTube

    When the father of the family, Dr. dos Reis, passed away in March of 1937, he failed to leave instructions for his sons about what to do with his property. It was clear that either Armando or Alvaro would inherit the castle, as their mother would not be entitled to it (being a woman in those times). The brothers endured a bitter squabble, since Alvaro wanted to convert the cinema into an ice skating rink and Armando wanted to keep the family business — the cinema — going strong.

  • The Family Housekeeper Heard A Strange Noise On The Eve Of The Murder

    Among the few facts that are actually known about this case, the housekeeper's story is an interesting one. Elza Lengfelder heard an unusually loud noise coming from the main house, and immediately went to investigate. She recruited the help from a watchman outside, and entered the house to search for the family.

    To her horror, three people were dead on the floor with fatal gunshot wounds. It appears that Elza was never a suspect in the murder investigation, though it seems undeniably curious that she was the first person to find them and notify the police.

  • The Sons Who Inherited The Castle Were Polar Opposites

    The Sons Who Inherited The Castle Were Polar Opposites
    Photo: Urbano Canoas / Wikimedia Commons

    Dr. Vigilio Cézar dos Reis' sons were completely different personalities. Alvaro was an outgoing ice skater and all-round popular person, and Armando was more of an introvert who sought a practical and traditional life. When their father died in 1937, the brothers couldn't decide about what to do with the castle. Of course, they would never get to make this decision, because they were murdered in the castle two months later on May 12.

    To this day, it's unclear whether this was a murder-suicide or a regular murder case. Evidence of the murder weapons were found at the scene, but no killer. And no clear motive.


  • There Was Gun Residue In One Brother's Hands

    There Was Gun Residue In One Brother's Hands
    Photo: Bombardier / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    At the scene of the crime, Armando, the introvert, had gun residue in his hand. This led the coroners to suspect that he was the killer, assuming that he killed himself after he killed his brother and mother. But he was found with multiple gunshot wounds, and that didn't seem consistent with straight-up suicide. 

    Also, the police were pretty convinced the scene was staged, or at least something was awry. Armando was never pinned to the crime. Neither was Alvaro.

  • There Were Theories About The Murders And Why Each Family Member Had Multiple Gunshot Wounds

    There Were Theories About The Murders And Why Each Family Member Had Multiple Gunshot Wounds
    Photo: YouTube

    When police tried to reconstruct the crime, they were confident there had been a fight between the two brothers. One had inadvertently shot their mother when she tried to help, and then murdered the other brother, before committing suicide through the trauma of it all.

    But none of the gunshot evidence amounted to a likely story. Their mother Maria had been shot multiple times, which seemed more deliberate than accidental. The brothers had multiple gunshot wounds as well, and the whole scene appeared to have been a domestic argument that transformed into a frenzied attack.