Killer of British headteacher Emma Kelty found at a hospital in Manaus, Brazil

The killer of British kayaker Emma Kelty has been seized by police in Brazil nearly six years since she was thrown into the Amazon to be eaten by piranhas.

The former headteacher from North London, 43, was hacked to death on a 4,000 mile solo tour of the Amazon river in September 2017.

Investigators say she was attacked by a group of six river pirates while she was camped on a beach in a remote area of Coari.

She was robbed, raped, shot dead, and her body was thrown into the Solimoes River.

Fugitive Arthur Gomes da Silva was sentenced to 29 years and 11 months in prison for his role in the killing, convicted of corruption of minors, robbery-homicide, rape, and concealment of a corpse.

He went on the run and was finally arrested on 8 February 2023, five and a half years after Emma disappeared, while taking his daughter to a children’s hospital in Manaus.

Emma Kelty, 43, poses in undated photo. She was murdered in Coari, Brazil, in 2017, one of the suspects Arthur Gomes da Silva was arrested in Manaus, Brazil, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023

Emma Kelty, 43, poses in undated photo. She was murdered in Coari, Brazil, in 2017, one of the suspects Arthur Gomes da Silva was arrested in Manaus, Brazil, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023

Arthur Gomes da Silva poses in undated photo. He was arrested in Manaus, Brazil, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, for the murder of Emma Kelty, 43, in Coari, Brazil, in 2017

Arthur Gomes da Silva poses in undated photo. He was arrested in Manaus, Brazil, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, for the murder of Emma Kelty, 43, in Coari, Brazil, in 2017

Police also identified Jardel Pinheiro Gomes, Erinei Ferreira da Silva, Elionai Cordovil da Silva, Erinilson Ferreira da Silva, and Valtemir Andrade de Lima as suspects.

But Da Silva is the one who raped and killed Emma, they say.

Emma was 42 days into a 4,000-mile-long trip along the Amazon River from its source to the Atlantic Ocean when she went missing.

Having reliably documented her travels online, she posted her last tweets on 13 September 2017 after setting up camp. 

Emma is believed to have pitched in an area of the river called the Solimoes River, known for drug traffickers and river pirates

Her siblings – Piers, Giles, and Natasha – said in a statement at the time: ‘Emma was an active and determined sister who challenged herself, latterly through her adventures on the Pacific Coast Trail, as well as in the South Pole and Amazon River.

‘In a world that is today a much smaller place, the explorer in our sister found herself seeking ways to prove that challenges were achievable.’

The former headteacher, who worked in Surbiton, South West London, gave up her job in 2014 after her father died and went travelling around the world.

She became the sixth woman to ski solo to the South Pole, according to her blog.

After hiking solo across the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail in the United States, she planned to navigate the 4,000-mile Amazon River, starting in Peru and ending at the Atlantic.

She told BBC Surrey that she was aware of the risks and had trained in self-defence in London before setting off. 

Emma Kelty from London worked as a headteacher in Surbiton before going to travel the world

Emma Kelty from London worked as a headteacher in Surbiton before going to travel the world

Police have not found the body of the former headteacher from Finchley, North London

Police have not found the body of the former headteacher from Finchley, North London

Kelty disappeared on day 42 of her journey after signaling her alarm.

A gang were later caught by police and allegedly confessed to killing Emma to steal her belongings.

Police said she was cut near the shoulder and neck as to attract carnivorous piranha fish that would make it harder to ‘get rid of the evidence’.

Emma’s body has not been found. 

In a video shared days before her disappearance, talking to her GoPro camera (below), she speaks optimistically about moving on from a group she had travelled with for six weeks. 

The former headteacher then went on to say: ‘I have to say I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been with a group now for a good six weeks and I’m ready to be solo.

‘As you know, I’m a solo girl and so therefore being a part of a group on such an adventure has been great but it’s time for me to have my solo time.’

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