A jailed Brazilian admitted in a television interview that he shoved nearly three dozen sewing needles into his 2-year-old stepson because he wanted to kill the boy to spite his wife.
Speaking from his cell, 30-year-old bricklayer Roberto Carlos Magalhaes told how he doped the child with wine mixed in water, then stuck needles into his body while his lover held the boy down.
"I did this two or three times a week during one month," Magalhaes said in an interview with Globo TV's "Fantastico" program Sunday from a jail in the northeastern state of Bahia.
The boy was too drunk from the wine mixture to cry while the needles were being pushed in, but he felt pain after the alcohol wore off, Magalhaes said.
"It was truly an unbearable suffering," he said. "It was to get back at the boy's mother. I thought the needles would work their way through his body and kill the boy. It was a way to kill without anyone discovering."
But the pain led the toddler to complain to his mother, and on Dec. 10 she took him to a hospital where X-rays revealed about 30 needles lodged throughout his body.
The boy underwent a five-hour operation in the northeastern city of Salvador on Friday to remove four rusty needles that most threatened his life, near his heart and in his lungs.
Doctors said Sunday the child was doing well and would likely undergo two more surgeries, the next one Wednesday at the earliest, to extract needles up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) long from his abdomen and spine.
Suzy Moreno, a spokeswoman for Hospital Ana Nery, said hundreds of people across Brazil had contacted the facility to inquire about the boy.
"Many people are coming by to bring Christmas presents," she said. "Many are also calling us to express their outrage. ... The support has been incredible."
Along with Magalhaes, police believe his lover, Angelina Ribeiro dos Santos, was also seeking revenge on Magalhaes' wife.
The bricklayer told detectives that dos Santos would enter into trances and give him commands to insert the needles, police inspector Helder Fernandes Santana said.
Magalhaes and dos Santos were both arrested, though no charges had been filed. They were taken to an undisclosed location for their own protection after a mob threw stones at the police station where they were being held.
Dos Santos is not believed to be a member of any religious or occult group, and authorities believe the pair came up with the idea on their own.
The boy's name is not being released because of his age.