Peruvian villagers accused, then lynched 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe over the murder of Shipobo-Konibo healer and activist Olivia Arévalo.
The 81-year-old woman was found dead of two gunshot wounds near her home in Victoria Gracia, Ucayali, Peru. Indigenous peoples’ rights group Amazon Watch expressed their condolences in an official statement, asking “Peruvian authorities” to both “investigate and bring to justice the authors of this atrocity, but also to protect the many indigenous people who are currently under threat.”
Arévalo’s family then publicly accused Sebastian Woodroffe of her murder through indigenous news service Servindi, alongside pictures of him. At some point afterward, a graphic video posted on the internet shows a man believed to be Woodroffe lying in a puddle and crying out in pain as he is struck multiple times and a rope is put around his neck. Police found Woodroffe’s body buried a little more than half a mile away from the healer’s home. Woodroffe was identified by his footprints and ruled to have died from strangulation.
Woodroffe is believed to have been a patient in Arévalo’s care after moving to the Amazon to “learn plant medicine,” as he said on his Indiegogo crowdfunding page. But one of Woodroffe’s personal friends painted a slightly clearer picture when speaking to Canada’s CBC television network. According to Yarrow Willard, Woodroffe had wanted to head into the Amazon specifically to experiment with “ayahuasca,” a hallucinogenic drug used in local medicine — and which is, essentially, DMT.
Ucayali Attorney General’s office spokesperson Ricardo Palma Jimenez has declared that they “[will] not rest until both murders, of the indigenous woman as well as the Canadian man, are solved.” Further condolences have been exchanged between both sides. Peru’s Ministry of Culture offered theirs to Woodroffe’s family, while Global Affairs Canada said this in a statement:
Canada extends its deepest condolences following the reported assassination of Olivia Arévalo, an indigenous elder and human rights defender of the Shipobo-Konibo people in Peru’s Ucayali region.
“We are also aware that a Canadian was killed in a related incident,” the office said, adding: “Consular services are being provided to the family of the Canadian.”