Ever wonder what it'd be like if Fifty Shades of Grey was a murder mystery? Neither do I, but The Lead Mask Case is probably close to it.
On August 20, 1966, two Brazilian electricians—Manoel Pereira da Cruz and Miguel José Viana—were found dead by a young man who was flying his kite on Morro do Vintém (Vintém Hill) in Rio de Janeiro. Niterói to be exact. Once police were able to reach the bodies thanks to the area's rough terrain, they were greeted by an off sight. The two men both wore formal suits, waterproof coats, and lead eye masks. Near the bodies were an empty water bottle, a packet that held two wet towels, and a small notebook. This little notebook added more questions to a scene that already confounded detectives. In the pages were a series of instruction manual that read as follows.
16:30 be at the specified location. 18:30 ingest capsules, after the effect protect metals await signal mask
The cause of death wasn't apparent—nor could it be determined. There were no outwardly injuries and a search for toxic substances didn't occur as the coroner's office was busy—so busy that by the time the autopsy was conducted, the internal organs in both men had decomposed and couldn't be reliably tested on.
An investigation revealed that the men had “Campos dos Goytacazes”, saying they needed to buy stuff for work. After taking a bus to Niterói, Manoel and Miguel arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon. It's here the two men bought their waterproof coats—along with a bottle of water from a nearby bat. When interviewed, a waitress said that Miguel appeared to be “very nervous” and stated repeatedly checked his watch. It's also here that the two men were last seen alive. Whether or not they went anywhere else or directly to the spot they were found dead at is unknown.
With that, we move onto theories. Or what few there are. Many of the theories to this case lack anything more than extreme speculation due to the lack of evidence in the case, save for one theory. Anyone's guess, no matter how ridiculous, is as good as anyone's. That said, let's take a look.
The first theory is that the men were murdered. By who, or for what purpose, I can't tell you. Some may say the Brazilian government while others may say organized crime. Admittedly, the latter isn't too far fetched as they may have been sent on a fools chase before being poisoned by Brazilian gangsters for seeing something they weren't meant to see. As for the masks, it may have been a calling card or a stylistic choice. Who knows.
The second theory is aliens. This will actually play into a later theory and one thay, strangely, is the most likely. As for actual aliens killing these two random men however, that's extraordinarily unlikely. Unless, of course, you blame aliens for everything like ISIS claims responsibility for everything.
The third theory is it was simply suicide. This theory is a popular one, but the main question is why they did it. From what I can tell, neither of the men suffered from depression or anything of that nature. If it was a hidden secret from both of their families, then why the lead masks and why not something less… enigmatic?
The fourth and final theory, and the one with the most evidence to back itself up, comes from a testimony via a friend of both Manoel and Miguel. The friend, whose name I can't find, claims that the two men were “scientific spiritualists” and were trying to come in contact with either aliens or spirits through the use of psychedelic drugs. They believed that the encounter—if successful—would have been accompanied by a blinding light. Because of this, they made the masks they wore to protect their eyes. In their attempt to contact whatever beings however, they overdosed on whatever drug[s] they took.
The only serious evidence to back this up, save for the nameless friend's testimony, is the diary that was found and materials used to construct masks found at men's houses. Also found there were books that were about spirits.
This theory is the most likely due to similar events having happened over the course of history. The best example being the Heaven's Gate cult, which drank cyanide (I believe) when Halley's Comet was going to pass by Earth. They believed the comet would be accompanied by a UFO and they'd all be taken away. We all know how that turned out.
That said, if this is true, all we have to go based on it is circumstantial evidence. As such, one can be certain it's true, but no proof sadly leaves the door open for your standard “aliens did it” crew to wreck your party.
The Lead Mask Case is one of those cases that can likely be passed off as strange people doing strange things; likely some weird attempt at contacting spirits or aliens. No more, no less. Alas, without evidence to back that up, the case remains unsolved—and it likely will until a miraculous breakthrough happens.