Brazil: An Interview with Marcia Loebick
By Mark Taylor
In my previous article, Single Gringo Beware, I covered the sad story of Raymond Merrill (pictured to the right), a US musician that came to Brazil in the pursuit of love and was murdered by a Brazilian woman, Regina Rachid, her boyfriend and an accomplice. Its a story that has hit both Brazilian and International headlines. The previous article also covered some other ways that foreigners are duped in Brazil when involved in relationships, and gave some general advice about how to reduce the risk.
I received some interesting feedback on the article. Firstly from someone that had dated Regina Rachid twice, meeting her at a São Paulo shopping centre last year, around the time that Raymond Merrill first met her. When this person told Rachid his profession she became immediately disinterested, based on the particular type of work he was in (unfortunately I cannot detail this further for reasons of anonymity).
I was also contacted by Marcia Loebick, Raymond Merrills sister, who agreed to an interview about the topic. I was keen that Marcia present her side of the story and give us some of the detail that both the Brazilian and International press have perhaps been lacking. For example, some of the background about her brother, and how the relationship formed with Regina Rachid. I also wanted to get Marcias take on the current situation and how its progressing, and whether she has any advice for foreigners getting involved in long distance relationships, as an extension of the previous article.
Mark: Hi Marcia, thanks for agreeing to an interview with Gringoes.com. My first question relates to how your brother has been portrayed in the press. It seems theres very little detail on him and how he got into this relationship. Also some people seem to be labelling your brother as a "poor shmuck", among other things, for simply lusting after Regina Rachid and not having any sense to spot the problems. Is that really the case?
Marcia: People dont know the whole story, and theres all kinds of people with all kinds of attitudes out there. Ray was a good looking and intelligent guy, and could have had a relationship with many people out there. He didnt smoke, he didnt drink and hang around in bars, he wasnt a social type person so would have difficulty finding people and resorted to the Internet to find someone, like many people do. He had a great sense of ethics, and was very trusting, he believed in people. He had in the past worked for a construction company that was doing work below code, and blew the whistle on them because of his sense of ethics. He lived a very clean, serious life. As for his relationship with Rachid, he was not interested in a purely sexual relationship, he wanted a love relationship. He told me that he had plans to marry her [Regina Rachid], and had not had sexual relations with her out of respect for her values, and they were waiting until they were married.
Mark: When did you first find out that he was having a relationship with Regina Rachid?
Marcia: I spoke to Raymond after his first visit to Brazil, around early November. Ray could be a solitary person, and would often work on his house, be working with music, reading, or exercising, and during those times he would disconnect from the rest of the world. So it was normal to not hear from him for a period of time. Anyway, he had met her on a local Internet dating site and they had corresponded for some weeks. She had indicated that she was divorced and upper class, and wanted a loving relationship. She sent him photos (an example on the right) that had clearly been taken at a professional photographers, and were lovely pictures that portrayed her as very attractive. Raymond thought after this first visit that hed met the women of his dreams, and was very enthused. I was very happy for him, although I took his suggestions of marriage with a pinch of salt.
Before his last and fatal trip down to Brazil, she had shown a nasty streak. I said to Raymond that love is not the first part of the relationship, and that he needed to be careful when things are euphoric. It would take time to really know for sure. But he was so convinced from many of her emails. The police showed me these, and the emails were very loving and very convincing, and duped him. So although people might think badly of my brother, he was just an ordinary person trying to find love, and was conned by this woman, who did a very artful job of pretending that she wanted to marry him.
Mark: How have both the US and Brazilian authorities been in keeping you up-to-date with the situation?
The US authorities have been excellent. They have an FBI agent in Brazil that works with the police. They have been quite supportive and diligent. Although Im a very persistent person, and email them on a daily basis. There have been lulls in communication, although the capture of Evandro Celso Augusto Ribeiro [Evandro Ribeiro was hired by Rachid and her boyfriend to help in the murder of Raymond, and dispose of the body] was a huge break in the case as he confessed.
Mark: What is the situation currently with Regina Rachid, and the status of the case?
Marcia: Shes currently being held in a womans prison in Brazil, and Evandro is also being held. Nelson Siqueira Neves (pictured on the left), Rachids boyfriend, is on the run.
As far as the status of the case right now, Im not sure if either Rachid, Evandro Celso or Neves have been formally accused of the murder yet, but if not it should be happening soon.
Mark: How exactly was Rachid caught? My understanding is that it was a stroke of luck.
Marcia: Yes, she was caught in a botched robbery attempt in June. They were trying to steal money from someone involved with changing money on the black-market, who they had attacked with a stun gun. He had managed to recover a lot more quickly than they expected, and they had fled. Rachid dropped her purse and the man took the purse to the police and told them hed been robbed. She came to the police station a couple of hours later saying that her purse had been stolen, but the police had found Raymonds credit card in her purse already. This was like the angels acting on my behalf to help solve my brothers murder. She was denying any connection with his disappearance, although the police had found evidence connecting her with the murder. Evandro Celso had confessed that the robbery they carried out on the money dealer was to pay him for the murder.
Mark: Is there anything that concerns you about the processing of the case?
Marcia: What worries me is the corruption in Brazil, the corruption of the legal system. I was outraged by the Brazilian law that allowed Nelson Siqueira Neves (pictured again to the right) to become a fugitive, as he was caught during the election and they took a deposition but he couldnt be incarcerated, due to this particular law. [For a period before and after elections suspects cannot be incarcerated] If Brazil wants tourists to be encouraged to visit the country, and for foreigners to do business in their country, they have to ensure that justice is carried out. I understand that theres a tremendous amount of corruption, and that you can do the most heinous crime, and if you have money you can get off scot-free. That worries me as Rachid stole almost a quarter of a million dollars from my brother that hasnt been recovered. Its blatantly clear that Rachid committed the crime, and it would be hideous and horrible if she and her accomplices are walking around scot-free. I encourage your readers, whether Brazilians or foreigners in Brazil, to write to the police, the media, the US consulate in Brazil, to make sure that this crime is dealt with properly, without corruption, and that everyone involved are brought to justice. Regina Rachids lawyer is also perpetuating lies about the case, including about my brother.
The story is huge in the States right now, and is all over the Internet. Its been on many of the major web sites, such as AOL.com, and many readers have added their commentaries, such as "I hope this woman rots in a Brazilian prison for the rest of her life". I want the Brazilian government to know how outraged people are, and they want justice.
My brothers remains are still waiting to be transferred to the States as its awaiting official confirmation via original dental records, and I have also sent a blood sample to Brazil. Although without a doubt the corpse that they have dug up from the cemetery is my brother. Evandro Celso, in his confession, lead the police to the area where my brothers burned body was recovered.
Mark: Are you aware of the level of coverage in Brazil?
Marcia: Theres certainly quite a bit. I was contacted by Brazilian TV for an interview when Evandro Celso was arrested, and I have seen many web sites covering the issue. Although they often spell my brothers name incorrectly.
Mark: What advice do you have for those people who are involved in long distance relationships, with people abroad?
Marcia: I think the advice that you brought up in your article, about having safeguards, especially if youre in a foreign country, were excellent points. You should keep in contact with home so you can be reached at all times, register with your embassy. So if there is a problem it can be detected early. I also believe that people who do Internet dating should do background checks on people, and anyone making themselves eligible for Internet dating should say they have nothing to hide, feel free to check my background. If youre going to do Internet dating, then do it in your own backyard. Then you can much more easily do a background check with their employers and their criminal history, and get a character reference. People take care in this age of AIDS, use sexual protection, and arent insulted by being asked to use protection. People should not be insulted by this form of protection as well. Also, as in your article, keep an eye out for the person acting irrationally. Towards the end Rachid was vicious and hateful in some of her communication, and I had told Raymond that this was a red flag. When he returned from Brazil the first time he had several thousand dollars of unknown charges on his credit card. Also regardless of how much someone says they love you, and how attractive they are, this woman was immediately hitting him up for money. He bought her a US$20,000 SUV, and she was upset that he hadnt bought her a US$50,000 car. Then when he returned home to the US she told him the car was stolen. She was asking for money to help her buy a certification for Botox treatments, which she was illegally doing out of her home. She was also asking for money to pay for her daughters college tuition, and appeared absolutely desperate. All the time Raymond was thinking that he was doing this to help his future wife and stepdaughter. Even he had suspected towards the end that she was involved with the credit card fraud, but was conflicted.
People always say "why didnt he listen to the signals?", a lot of journalists ask me this. A lot of us have been in a relationship with someone who was a liar and a cheat, or unfaithful, or abusive. But you still love that person, and still want to be with them and have the relationship, even if its co-dependent. Even when you confront someone like this they act so indignant that they make you feel like an idiot for even suspecting them, using reverse psychology, and you put yourself in denial.
Mark: OK thanks for doing the interview with us Marcia, and I hope our readers stay abreast of the court case to a positive outcome, and that Rachid is incarcerated.
For those who want to write to the US or Brazilian authorities, Marcia has the following information: If you decide to write a letter, please do not in any way be antagonistic towards either the US or Brazilian authorities. In my opinion, they have been doing an excellent job. I request that the letters be written in a respectful manner and express the profound sorrow at the loss of Ray, outrage against Regina Rachid and her accomplices for their heinous and calculated evil crimes, and to implore the authorities to arrest, prosecute and imprison ALL the perpetrators for the maximum time permitted by Brazilian law.
Marcia also encourages people to copy and send the photos of Nelson Siqueira Neves, currently on the run, to friends in Brazil (whether foreign or Brazilian) to help with his recapture. If you spot Neves then clearly do not approach him, and report his location to your local police.
Contact names and addresses (where known):
American Citizens Services
US Consulate General
Rua Henri Dunant, 500
Chacara Santo Antonio
Ana Paula Medeiros Monteira de Barros, Lead Investigator
Sao Jose dos Campos
Media contact: Alexandre Alves - Journalist - Valeparaibano firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a comment on Marks article or would simply like to contact him then email email@example.com.
Previous articles by Mark:
Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 2
Brazil: Google Maps Gets an Upgrade
Brazil: A Guide to Fernando de Noronha Part 1
Brazil: 14 Bis Centenary Part 1
Brazil: Daylight Savings Time
Brazil: Carjacking and Theft
Brazil: Airport Delays Grow Among Crash Speculation
Brazil: São Paulo's International Film Festival (and The Fountain)
Brazil: Single Gringo Beware!
Brazil: The House of Coffee Comes Home
Brazil: Film Review
Brazil: The Portuguese Language Museum
Brazil: Election Time! Part 2
Brazil: Election Time! Part 1
Brazil: Torrent TV
Brazil: Book Review
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 2
Brazil: Whistle-stop Salvador Part 1
The PCC Shows a New Level of Organisation
Brazil: Trading Places
Brazil: São Paulo's Pinacoteca
Brazil: Don't Forget, You're in Another Country!
Brazil: PCC Violence Returns to São Paulo
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 5
Brazils World Cup Defeat Party
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 4
Brazil: Japanese Standard Chosen for Digital TV
Brazil: NET Petition Feedback
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 3
Brazil: Football Love
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 2
Brazil: A Recycled City Part 1
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 3
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 2
Brazil: 100 Things To Do in São Paulo Part 1
GPS in Brazil
Brazil: PCC Attacks in São Paulo
Brazil: Tips on Buying or Renting an Apartment or House
Brazil: A Critical Sensitivity
Cleanliness is next to Brazilianiness
Brazil: No Change, No Sale
Brazil: Professional Children
Brazil: We deliver... everything!
Brazil: Terraço Itália
Brazil: A Layman's Carnival Guide
Brazil: Portunglish or Engluguese?
Brazil: Feira Food
Brazil: Bilhete Unico flexibility increases
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: U2 Ticket Chaos
Brazil: Finding Work
Brazil: Queues, Queues, Queues
Brazil: Let's Go Fly a Kite!
Brazil... the Film That Is
Brazil: The Bus to Nowhere
Brazil: Proclamation of the Republic
Brazilian Film Review
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Finados (Day of the Dead)
Interjections, exclamations and onomatopoeia in Brazilian Portuguese
Brazil says "No" to banning firearms
Brazil Humour: Phone Etiquette
Brazil's Gun Referendum
Brazil: Moby Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet - Part 5
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet - Part 4
Brazil: Avril Lavigne at Pacaembu
Moby in Brazil
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet - Part 3
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet - Part 2
Brazilian Film Review
Brazil: Keeping in touch via the Internet - Part 1
Brazil: First season of Lost repeated on AXN