The Lead Masks Mystery - UFO's, Murder & Drugs
Two bodies were found on Vintém Hill in Brazil on 20 August 1966. They were discovered by a youngster out flying his kite in what would certainly become a foundational trauma. Several anomalous details deepen the mystery of the Lead Masks Case, as it came to be known. Were these two men murdered by aliens, or were they the victims of a black market tech deal gone wrong?
Out for Supplies
The two men were last seen on 17 August 1966, by the same kite-flyer that later found their bodies. They allegedly told their families that they were heading out to purchase supplies for work. Manoel and Miguel boarded a bus to Niterói, arriving at 14:30. The technicians bought the raincoats they were found in, at a local store, before visiting a local bar to purchase a bottle of water. Miguel was described as "very nervous" by the waitress working at the bar, he seemed to be in a hurry as he obsessively checked his watch.
Reportedly, the men took a large amount of cash with them on this journey. This money was never found.
Clearly, the men didn't buy any supplies, unless what they were buying was somehow an illegal substance. Something radioactive, perhaps.
Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana both worked as Electronic Technicians in Campos dos Goytacazes, a town located north-east of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The men were dressed in formal suits with waterproof coats and, strangely, lead eye-masks. Near their bodies, police found an empty water-bottle, wet towels in a bag and a small notebook containing cryptic instructions. These instructions were written as follows,
"16:30 estar no local determinado. 18:30 ingerir cápsulas, após efeito proteger metais aguardar sinal mascara ." (16:30 be at the specified location. 18:30 ingest capsules, after the effect protect metals await signal mask).
Neither body showed any signs of trauma or any other overt cause of death. During the autopsy, no further clues were discovered, especially considering the fact that a toxicology report was not done due to advanced organ decomposition. Apparently, the bodies were left to steep for a while before the coroner got around to them. Therefore, it is impossible to know for certain what was in the "capsules" the men ingested at 18:30 on that fateful night.
The masks notably have no eyeholes and seem crudely cut. Both men were found wearing the lead masks over their eyes. This implies that the men had received whatever "signal mask" the notebook is referring to. The fact that these masks were made of lead could imply that they expected to encounter radiation during their afternoon meeting on the hill.
The technicians were clearly anticipating something moist, as evidenced by both the towels and raincoats. Could it be that they had taken an impromptu bath using the contents of the water bottle, dried off using the towels and used the raincoats to protect their suits, all before hitching a ride on the Heaven's Gate UFO? It seems unlikely, but with open-ended cases like this one, it's fun to speculate.
According to a mutual friend's testimony, both men were part of a collective of "Scientific Spiritualists". This same friend stated that the two men were experimenting with the use of psychedelic drugs in an attempt to contact extraterrestrial or spiritual beings. The masks were intended to shield the men's eyes from the blinding light that accompanies these alleged beings. This avenue of evidence has led some investigators to believe that the men's deaths were due to a drug overdose.
The fact is that there are 0 recorded cases of death due to overdose on LSD or Psilocybin mushrooms. Finding accurate information on the potential dangers of other psychedelic substances like DMT or Peyote is near impossible in an internet filled with "war on drugs" era misinformation. Most reputable sources seem to indicate very little risk of death due to psychedelic use.
Could these men have been tricked into consuming a poisonous substance instead of the hallucinogens they were expecting?
We may never know exactly what beliefs these men adhered to, or what exactly is meant by the term Scientific Spiritualism. Science, as we all know, is an imperial approach to observing and documenting objective reality. Spiritualism, on the other hand, refers to a system of contacting spirits of the dead or beings that transcend our current reality.
Psychedelics have long been believed to open the third eye and grant humans access to perceptive abilities beyond our limits. Psychonauts have long used a mix of psychedelic drugs and meditation practices to explore the internal world of the mind. Some Psychonauts have even claimed to encounter ultra-terrestrial beings made of pure light. Researchers have documented the experiences of volunteers in clinical settings and found a high incidence of encounters with beings.
Black market Rendezvous
Here's the first of three potential theories. Could it be that these men were attempting to purchase a prohibited substance to act as a fuel source for a device that they were constructing? Reportedly, the men had attempted and failed to construct a machine to contact Martian entities. This device ended up exploding in a friend's backyard. Perhaps they needed the radioactive material to reattempt their communication.
Of course, as these things go, the men were betrayed and murdered by their uranium dealer. This theory is of course not supported by any evidence and fails to explain the towels.
Local newspapers published articles, following the discovery of the men's bodies, wherein a resident claims to have seen a ball of orange light flying over the hill on the 17th of August. This supports the hypothesis that the men had succeeded in making contact with extra-terrestrial beings. These beings then turned out to not be friendly. Leaving the men dead in their wake.
It's important to remember that eyewitness testimony is fundamentally unreliable. This witness might also be lying in an attempt to cash in on what was a popular news story at the time.
Finally, the most likely conclusion is that the men did indeed overdose on the substances in their "capsules". They may have been sold something that was contaminated with a deadly chemical. Psychedelics alone are unlikely to cause deadly toxicity when taken in moderate to high doses.
The men had been reading up on old-occult philosophy and magic practices. This could lead to the men developing a custom cocktail-drug intended to expand their perceptions. Many substances written about in old occult grimoires might be toxic, and any dangers of ingesting these substances would probably not be listed in these tomes.
I find this theory to be the most likely, that they accidentally poisoned themselves in the pursuit of occult encounters.
Not the First Time
Four years earlier, the body of another electronic technician was found on another hill in Brazil. He was apparently also a part of the same Scientific Spiritualism collective, and his body was also found wearing a lead mask. This points to a ritual element to what these men were trying to achieve.
Perhaps Miguel and Manoel thought they had figured out what had gone wrong in the previous attempt. They could have died attempting to improve upon this earlier attempt.
We may never find out what actually happened on that hill in 1966. For now, it remains a compelling mystery.