Ex-boyfriend arrested in fatal stabbing

Dancer repeatedly spurned suspect’s advances, police say

Sheila dos Santos was killed Oct. 2. Sheila dos Santos was killed Oct. 2. (WBZ-TV)
By John M. Guilfoil
Globe Correspondent / October 10, 2009

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WOBURN - An exotic dancer repeatedly refused her former lover’s advances for almost a year, so, authorities say, he stabbed her 33 times and left her to die at her doorstep.

Yesterday, police arrested Antonio “Marcos’’ Ferreira in Charlestown and charged him with first-degree murder in the death of Sheila dos Santos, 24, of Everett.

At a press conference yesterday, Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr. said the 38-year-old Ferreira’s advances were repeatedly spurned for more than nine months by dos Santos. Leone said the two had dated for about a year before she broke things off.

The district attorney said that Ferreira ceaselessly tried to rekindle the relationship, before fatally stabbing dos Santos early on the morning of Oct. 2 as she returned from dancing at Club Alex, a Stoughton strip club.

“At this time, all of the evidence we’ve obtained and developed points to this defendant as the murderer,’’ Leone said, citing Ferreira’s own statements to police, physical evidence, witness accounts of his car being at the scene at the time of the killing, cellphone records, and video surveillance data reviewed by investigators.

“We developed evidence that shows that he had the opportunity and motive to commit this crime,’’ Leone said.

Ferreira is the same man police brought in for questioning Oct. 2, according to the victim’s sister, Ana Paola dos Santos, who rushed to the police station on the night after dos Santos was killed, hoping for an arrest.

Leone said that Ferreira and Sheila dos Santos exchanged several cellphone calls on the day she was killed. Ferreira is not believed to have attended the strip club dos Santos worked at on Oct. 2.

It was not known last night whether Ferreira had obtained a lawyer.

Leone said Ferreira had recently packed up and moved out of his Somerville apartment and had all of his possessions with him when he was arrested, includ ing his Brazilian passport.

“I commend the Everett Police Department and State Police,’’ Leone said. “If the arrest was not made today, he may have fled the area.’’

The district attorney said dos Santos and Ferreira had met each other in the area’s Brazilian community through mutual friends and had dated for about a year, but she had broken off the relationship about nine months ago.

Ferreira caught dos Santos by surprise, Leone said, and then attacked and killed her, stabbing her more than 30 times in the front and back of her body, outside her apartment building after she returned home from work at Club Alex around 1:15 a.m.

“Thirty-three stab wounds obviously speaks to the state of mind of the person who is charged with this murder,’’ Leone said.

Dos Santos’s body was found on the cement stairs leading to the rear door of her multiunit apartment building, steps from her black Honda CR-V.

Friends and family told the Globe that dos Santos had been increasingly afraid for her safety. She lived alone, but planned to move in with a friend.

Ana Paola dos Santos, 25, a resident of Malden, said she knew Ferreira.

“Initially, he seemed like a good person but we know that’s not the case,’’ she said yesterday.

Her sister dated Ferreira on and off, she said, but their relationship was not serious and she would not have called Ferreira a “boyfriend’’ of her sister.

Sheila dos Santos was very active in the local Brazilian community. She loved to go to clubs where Brazilian bands were playing. As recently as the Sunday before she died, she had gone to the Plaza Garibaldi Lounge in Revere to catch a popular Brazilian musical act.

Dos Santos was the youngest of five children. She came to the United States about three years ago from Mirante Da Serra, Brazil. She enjoyed going to the gym and cooking meals for her two sisters

Leone would not say whether Ferreira was the man police questioned the night after dos Santos was killed.

He would also not comment on Ferreira’s immigration status, saying it would come up at his arraignment Tuesday in Malden District Court.

Ana Paola dos Santos said yesterday that she was glad to learn her sister’s alleged killer has been arrested.

“I’m happy,’’ she said, “but my sister won’t come back.’’

Brian R. Ballou of the Globe staff contributed to this report. John M. Guilfoil can be reached at