Brazilian police said they have captured a man who confessed to 39 murders.
But the man’s lawyer said his client was coerced into confessing crimes he did not commit.
Investigator Norton Ferreira in the city of Goiania said police had linked a gun found in the home of suspect Tiago Rocha to the killings of at least six women this year.
Mr Ferreira said since being arrested this week the 26-year-old Rocha had confessed to at least 33 other killings in Brazil’s midwest dating back to early 2013, including a number of other young women and homeless people.
Lawyer Thiago Vidal told the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that his client confessed to crimes he did not commit under aggressive questioning.
Among the alleged victims of the 26-year-old serial killer — who lived with his mother — is a 14-year-old girl.
Security guard Thiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha is believed to be one of the world’s most prolific serial killers after he confessed to dozens of murders while under arrest for a minor offence.
Police said Gomes da Rocha told them he killed to alleviated feelings of anxiety because of the “fury he felt against everything”.
He gunned down his victims while riding on a motorbike and would shout “robbery” before each killing.
Among his victims were 16 women including a 14-year-old girl killed in a park in January, while others reportedly include transvestites and several homeless people.
Brazilian police set up a task force to find a serial killer after a string of random killings caused fear and panic among locals.
Gomes da Rocha first came to the attention of the police after he was caught stealing a motorbike number plate at a supermarket in January.
Police officers swooped days later when he was stopped riding a motorbike with a stolen number plate.
A raid on his home reportedly turned up a 38 revolver as well as a motorbike with stolen plates.
Once in custody, Gomes da Roacha admitted to the string of murders, police say.
“I believe he is a serial killer. To start with he killed at random but towards the end he established a pattern,” Police chief Joao Gorski said.
Victims of Gomes da Rocha earlier this year staged a protest to pressure police into catching the killer. They wore white and carried photos of the victims.
The world’s worst serial killer is believed to be Luis Garavito, who may have killed and raped as many as 400 street children in Colombia.
His confirmed victim count is 138.
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