95% of UFO sightings can be written off as nothing: weather phenomena; misidentified aircraft; mistakenly identified stars or planets. 5% cannot be explained. In this series we’ll be looking at the mass sightings. The abductions. The unexplained deaths. Real cases, with real people.
These are the 5%. These, are the UFO files.
By the time Joao Prestes Filho entered Santana de Parnaíba hospital on 4 March 1946, it was obvious to anyone who saw him that he was not long for this world. He’d been brought to the hospital by local police chief, Joao Malaquías, who had arrived at the home of Filho’s sister shortly after the Filho himself. Filho had stumbled to his sister’s house crying out in agony saying he’d been burned. The skin on his face, arms, and chest was badly burned, to such an extent that the flesh beneath was exposed. When the police chief arrived, 44 year-old father of five Filho said that there was no one to blame for his terrifying appearance, because his attacker was “not of this world”. And so began the strange tale of the gruesome death of Joao Prestes Filho.
4th March 1945 was a cheery time in the village of Araçariguama for it was carnival season. But not everyone was happy. Joao Filho preferred the peace and quiet of nature instead. On this day he chose to take his horse drawn cart to the Tieté River and go fishing. His wife took their five children to engage in the festivities, but managing five children is no mean feat, especially five children excited by the idea of a carnival, and amid the chaos of the moment, she locked the door to the house, leaving Joao a man without a key.
Electricity was yet to reach Araçariguama, and it is easy to imagine Joao returning home in the darkness, perhaps with the sounds of the festival floating through the warm evening air. When he arrived back home, he soon realised his predicament. He managed to climb into his house through an open window. This is where it gets weird. He was standing in his home aware of an unusual presence. He turned to the window where his eye was immediately drawn to a glowing object in the night sky. He was hit by a burning beam of light. Covering his face with his hands, he dropped to his knees. Though it only lasted for a moment, the effects would be catastrophic.
The farmer felt as though his body were on fire. Joao was somehow able to wrap himself in a blanket, before bursting barefoot into the deserted streets. He walked into the village over two agonising kilometres. It is here that he burst into the house of his sister.
Joao’s nephew recalled not being allowed to see his uncle, so horrific were his injuries. His father telling him in the intervening years that he was concerned that the experience of seeing his uncle would in such a state would have been traumatic. The man was badly burned from the waist up, with the exception of the hair on his head. Joao was agonisingly conscious throughout his ordeal, talking to the sheriff, though he was having problems with his tongue. Eyewitnesses to Joao injuries spoke of “meat that has been allowed to boil for a while”. His hair, clothing and feet were unscathed by the burning, but his feet were cut to ribbons from his barefoot escape from his house - cut by the jagged rocks between his own house and his sister’s. It was quickly decided that if anything could be done for the poor man, it was at the hospital.
Rather than risk travelling the poorly kept road to Sao Paulo, they went to Santana de Parnaíba, where the dying man found a friend in orderly, Aracy Gomide, who tended Filho during his final hours alive. Baffled doctors were unable to diagnose Joao and it was decided that all they could do for him was to keep him comfortable. Gomide, a former army medic said that Filho spoke until he lost too much soft tissue from around his jaw. By now, Joao Prestes Filho was amazingly no longer in pain, despite seemingly decomposing.
And thank God.
Parts of his face were peeling off and whole chunks of flesh were falling away, exposing bright white bone and tendons beneath. His final act was to ask his new orderly friend for a glass of water. At 10pm that evening, Joao Prestes Filho died. The death was officially listed simply as “cardiac collapse”.
Naturally, over time this story has been embellished. Joao’s nephew said that as far as he could recall, the injuries weren’t anywhere near as bad as those described by Gomide the orderly. Could this be down to the fact that he didn’t see his uncle in his final hours? One thing is not in dispute: Something had happened to Joao, for the nephew did report darkened skin from the waist up ‘like he had been burned. Joao Prestes Filho died from injuries that he claimed came from a beam of light shot from a UFO. Whether this really happened, we will never know, but the victim of this story died from something. It is terrifying to think that he could have been telling the truth.
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In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.