April 23 (UPI) — A Canadian man was lynched by a mob in Peru after he was accused of murdering an 81-year-old shaman woman, police said.
Cellphone video of the murder posted online shows Sebastian Woodroffe, 41, lying on the ground in the Ucayli region of the Peruvian Amazon and pleading for help as young men wrap what appears to be a rope around his neck. Woodroffe is then choked until he stops moving before villagers drag his limp body through the streets.
Woodroffe’s body was then dumped in a shallow grave, where police located him on Saturday.
Police said the villagers accused Woodroffe of murdering Olivia Arévalo. Arévalo, a local leader and healer, was shot with two bullets before her body was found on Thursday. Woodroffe was believed to have been a patient of Arévalo’s, the Guardian reported.
However, police have not publicly said what motive Woodroffe would have had to kill Arévalo. Rumors range from Arévalo’s son owing Woodroffe money to the Canadian becoming upset when Arévalo refused to serve him a drink of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic potion used for healing sessions. But police are still investigating.
Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reported that Arévalo’s murder may be tied to her environmental activism, which could mean other people were involved. In recent years, several environmental activists have been threatened, hurt and killed due to conflicts over logging and mining in the Peruvian Amazon. The area is also a hotbed of drug trafficking.
According to the CBC, Woodroffe, originally from the Vancouver area, was a recent arrival to Peru, having first come in 2016 to find a “deeper meaning” by trying ayahuasca.
Woodroffe’s longtime friend, Yarrow Willard, said he doesn’t believe his friend could be involved in the murder of Arévalo.
“We’ve just been in shock. It’s pretty traumatic to hear. It just felt like a scam because there is no way this person [Woodroffe] is capable of that,” Willard said.