A Canadian man was allegedly lynched to death by a mob who accused him of killing an elder shaman in Peru.
The CBC reports that Canadian citizen Sebastian Woodroffe, 41, has been identified as the person found dead Saturday in a shallow grave in Ucayali. Accoridng to the Guardian, Woodroffe was targeted because some villagers believed he was responsible for the death of Olivia Arévalo, a shaman of the hipibo-Konibo people who was found fatally shot in her home on Thursday.
“The body had been fully identified (as that of Sebastian Woodroffe) using fingerprints,” General Jorge Lam, the lead investigator, told the Guardian.
Woodroffe had reportedly been one of Arévalo’s patients, but it is unclear why he was accused of killing her. Police are reportedly looking into the possibility that Arévalo’s son owed Woodroffe money. Another preliminary theory for the shaman’s killing is that her son owed money to gang members, the Guardian reports.
The alleged lynching victim is from Vancouver, and reportedly went to Peru to experiment with herbal medicine, including ayahuasca,, in his studies to become an addiction counselor. Woodroffe launched a crowdfunding campaign in 2014 when he first made the decision to travel to Peru, and a friend told the CBC that Woodroffe had visited Peru a number of times to seek “deeper meaning” at rainforest retreats.
Woodroffe is not known to have a history of violence or a criminal history, and ayahuasca is not typically associated with violent or aggressive behavior.
Disturbing video has circulated on social media appearing to show Woodroffe being dragged by his neck with a cord made of rubber or robe, reportedly begging for mercy. The video has been posted on Facebook; it contains very graphic images and may be upsetting.
Ucayali prosecutor Ricardo Palma Jimenez told Reuters that the cell phone video alerted authorities to the lynching, and the Woodroffe’s body was found near Arévalo’s home.
“We will not rest until both murders, of the Indigenous woman as well as the Canadian man, are solved,” Jimenez said.
[Feature image: Sebastian Woodroffe/Facebook]