Inside The Varginha UFO Incident, When Multiple People Reported Witnessing Extraterrestrial Phenomena In Brazil

Published May 10, 2024

Several residents of a town in Brazil claimed that their city was overrun with aliens in 1996 — and that the government covered it up. But is there any proof?

Varginha UFO Incident

1091 PicturesAn artist’s rendition of the alien life form allegedly spotted in Varginha, Brazil.

In January 1996, three young witnesses between the ages of 14 and 22 claimed to have seen something strange in Varginha, Brazil. They said they had seen a small, hairless creature with oily brown skin, a large head, and red eyes — and they referred to it as a “devil.”

In the days that followed, several other residents would come forward, claiming that they, too, had witnessed something not of this world. These eerie phenomena would soon become known as the Varginha UFO incident.

As rumors swirled, the details became murkier and more outrageous. Some claimed to have seen UFOs flying through the skies, while others alleged that extraterrestrials were being rounded up by the military and placed under investigation at a local hospital.

The government denied all of these reports. The strange “creature” the three young witnesses had seen? According to an official investigation, that was just a homeless man nicknamed “Mudinho.” The aliens seen at the hospital? Nothing more than an expectant couple with dwarfism.

Today, the city of Varginha, much like Roswell, leans heavily into the story of its infamous UFO experience, selling Varginha alien dolls and even adorning a water tower with a UFO-shaped saucer.

There are those, however, who insist it was all true to this very day.

Initial Witness Reports About A Strange Creature In Varginha

On Jan. 20, 1996, two sisters, Liliane and Valquíria Silva, and their friend Katia Andrade were walking across a vacant lot in the city of Varginha, Brazil. There, they suddenly came across a strange creature crouching in the weeds. It stood about four feet tall, they said, with massive red eyes and a disproportionately large head crowned with three bumps.

They also noted something else peculiar about the creature: its foul smell.

This creature, the witnesses claimed, appeared “sad,” and just as frightened of them as they were of it.

Terrified, they ran home, and the sisters reportedly told their mother they had seen the “devil.”

ET Sketches

1091 PicturesSketches drawn of the Varginha alien.

“It wasn’t a man or an animal — it was something different,” Andrade said, according to a 1996 article in The Wall Street Journal.

The news of this strange “ET” quickly spread around town. And in its wake, more information came to light. What the young women hadn’t realized at the time was that theirs was not the only sighting of this creature — or the craft it allegedly came out of.

More Reports Surface Of Alien And UFO Sightings

A week before the Brazil alien sighting, a pilot by the name of Carlos Souza claimed to have seen a strange, cigar-shaped object about the size of a school bus flying above Varginha. As he watched, he noted that it was losing altitude and appeared to be emitting white smoke.

Believing it to be “an aircraft in trouble,” according to a 2022 article, he followed its trajectory and arrived in an open field. There, he allegedly found metal debris littering the ground — and a foul stench in the air “like rotten eggs.”

Then, he claimed, the area was swarmed by military personnel, who forced him to leave the scene.

On the morning of Jan. 20 — just hours before the creature was spotted — a couple living nearby allegedly observed a similar craft flying through the sky. They claimed it looked as though it had sustained significant damage to its fuselage — and it was heading toward the city.

Carlos Souza

1091 PicturesCarlos Souza at the scene of the aircraft crash, years after he allegedly witnessed it.

Shortly after, residents in the Jardim Andere neighborhood called emergency services to report that a strange animal had been seen running through the streets. According to a translated EBC article, a construction worker claimed to have seen authorities trap the creature inside a wooden box and take it away.

Around 1:00 p.m., others reported seeing men in military uniforms in town, apparently looking for something. Some claim they heard shots fired from the men’s rifles. About two hours later, the Silva sisters and Andrade allegedly spotted the creature.

And at roughly 5:30 p.m., a 23-year-old police officer named Marco Eli Chereze allegedly caught one of these creatures, grabbing it with his bare hands and ushering it into his car. Witnesses claimed he then drove the creature to a nearby hospital for observation.

Brazilian Newspaper About The Varginha Ufo

1091 PicturesNewspaper reports about the alleged Varginha alien encounters.

The creature — which hospital staff denied ever seeing — allegedly died at some point in the night, then was placed on a troop transport truck bound for the Weapons Sergeant School.

On Jan. 23, witnesses claimed that a military convoy left Varginha carrying the bodies of extraterrestrials they had collected to be examined by scientists at the State University of Campinas. Once again, authorities denied all of this.

The story took one final twist, however, on Feb. 7, when officer Marco Eli Chereze was hospitalized due to severe pain in his arm and the onset of paralysis. Chereze allegedly underwent surgery to remove an abscess from his armpit — then died days later from a generalized infection.

Today, some claim that the illness was caused by alien bacteria that transferred to Chereze when he grabbed the creature and put it in his car.

However, the official story presented by government officials is far less fantastical.

The Official Investigation Into The Varginha UFO Incident

In 2021, ISTOÉ obtained official documents from the Brazilian Army regarding the purported Varginha UFO incident.

The documents outlined the Brazil government’s investigation into the case, particularly the events that took place on Jan. 20 and the allegations that military personnel had captured aliens in Brazil and hidden the evidence.

Lieutenant Colonel Lúcio Carlos Pereira, the man in charge of the Military Police Inquiry, claimed that the Silva sisters and Andrade had never seen an extraterrestrial creature at all. Rather, he said, they probably encountered a homeless man, “Mudinho,” who likely had a mental disorder of some kind.

It’s possible, Pereira said, that Mudinho was crouched over, as he was often seen in such a position. He was around 30 years old at the time, and he lived near the area where the girls had seen the “ET.”

Varginha UFO Water Tower

Wikimedia CommonsA water tower adorned with the likeness of a UFO in Varginha.

As for why residents had seen military vehicles around Varginha at the time, Military Justice prosecutor Antônio Antero dos Santos said it was “all just routine work,” and that army trucks had simply left the barracks for “normal maintenance work in a workshop.”

With hindsight, even some UFO believers look back at the Varginha UFO incident and say, with confidence, that it was not real.

Lawyer and ufologist Ubirajara Rodrigues, for example, testified during the investigation, “There is no proof that an extraterrestrial being was captured in Varginha… People said that they saw, that they touched an extraterrestrial, but this does not serve as scientific proof. At that time, our tendency was to believe that it was a being from another planet.”

But what about the fate of Marco Eli Chereze? How could this strange death possibly be explained?

“The death occurred due to a strong hospital infection after the operation,” said former commander of the 24th Military Police Battalion of Varginha, Maurício Antonio Santos. “Former soldier Chereze was not involved in any incident with extraterrestrials.”

Of course, there are those out there who still believe something crashed in Varginha that day — and that the government investigation was nothing more than a coverup.

After reading about the Varginha UFO incident, Brazil’s most infamous UFO case, read about the Ariel School UFO phenomenon, when a group of children in Zimbabwe said they received visions from aliens. Or, take a look at the Calvine photo, the world’s clearest UFO image.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
Maggie Donahue
Maggie Donahue is an assistant editor at All That's Interesting. She has a Master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and film studies from Johns Hopkins University. Before landing at ATI, she covered arts and culture at The A.V. Club and Colorado Public Radio and also wrote for Longreads. She is interested in stories about scientific discoveries, pop culture, the weird corners of history, unexplained phenomena, nature, and the outdoors.
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Harvey, Austin. "Inside The Varginha UFO Incident, When Multiple People Reported Witnessing Extraterrestrial Phenomena In Brazil.", May 10, 2024, Accessed May 23, 2024.