Wednesday, 20 September 2017
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brunanunesAs one of the Algarve’s most hideous murders last year comes to trial in Portimão, another remains poignantly ‘open’ with the man police are certain killed teenager Bruna Nunes still ‘out there’ somewhere, evading the authorities.

Interpol and Europol arrest warrants have been distributed throughout all countries known to have been frequented by Mikhail Razvan Oprea, but since two days after 17-year-old Bruna went missing, all trace of him seems to have vanished.

This is not completely surprising, as it appears 34-year-old Oprea - known by locals as “Miguel” - may have had multiple identities.

This is a story so tragic that it has to be told if only to alert people to the importance of ‘saying things the way they are’.

Had the little community of Aldeia Velha, near Rogil (Aljezur) done this, Bruna Nunes may have lived to enjoy her 18th birthday last May, and gone on to win yet more prizes for the Aljezur Speed Skating Club - where she had already won distinction as junior national champion.

For Bruna had drummed up the courage to make an official complaint against Oprea, who was her mother’s younger partner, and the father of her little sister.

The complaint centred on the Romanian’s violence - we are not sure whether it was specifically connected to violence against Bruna, as inquiries in Aljezur have only revealed that she was reporting violence against her mother. But according to a report in TVMais late last year Bruna’s last Facebook entry before she went missing on December 11 was “I don’t have any more conditions to suffer”. This is a literal translation, difficult to interpret perfectly, but suffice it to say she was in a dark place.

According to our own inquiries, the teenager simply appealed to local GNR police for help, saying her stepfather was abusive. They told us the law requires police to ‘follow-up with inquiries’. This they say they did - receiving no confirmation from any of the family’s neighbours.

The police even confronted Oprea - a fact that locals say sealed Bruna’s fate.

Trying to look at the situation from every angle, we heard the police agents’ reasoning.

“All people told us was that this was an exemplary family”, a young agent told us. “It was only after the girl was killed that everyone said: ‘It was the stepfather. He was bad. We all knew he was bad. Everyone was terrified of him”.

“If only they had told us when we asked!”

In a way, it was just the same with the murder in Alcalar of 72-year-old British grandmother Brenda Davidson. It was only after her body was discovered buried under concrete in her back garden that friends talked about the woman “living in fear” of an allegedly abusive partner.

Had these friends blown the whistle to the authorities when Brenda first told them of her troubles, perhaps she would not have died. We will never know.

But in the case of Bruna, one year on it is a case of either turning the page, or remembering - if only to try and spark renewed interest in this crime in the hope that Oprea will eventually be located.

Answering a query on Facebook, Bruna’s mother Lília Pacheco has said: “We still haven’t seen justice, and it will never be done as it should be… but the authorities are on the ground”.

PJ national director Pedro do Carmo has confirmed this, saying his force “will never forget this barbaric case” and that he holds out hope that police will get their man - if only in years to come.

“We’re always hopeful”, he said. “Only a few weeks ago, we located a murderer who had been on the run for 20 years. It happens. It could happen in this case. That is what we are hoping for”.

But, for their own reasons, the PJ has not issued Oprea’s photo, or any likeness for people to put to memory.

We tried the tack that “some of our readers travel Europe. They might see him and recognise him if there was a photo”, but photos are too open to false leads, we were told.

Talking to local people, a number admitted to knowing Bruna’s stepfather was abusive - one even told us Bruna frequently confided about the situation of domestic violence to her own daughter when the two travelled to school in Lagos on the bus. But no-one was prepared to go on record.

Oprea still has family in the area, we understand. No-one likes the idea of coming out in print.

As for Bruna’s mother, she has left Aldeia Velha with her youngest daughter.

“As far as I know she is in Portimão”, Dília, a former work colleague at Koppe Young Plants, Aljezur, told us. “But I don’t have any contact details. She never came back to work after…” the sentence trailed off.

Lília has wiped her former Facebook page and has set up a commemorative page for her daughter which still sees touching tributes from relatives and friends. She writes as Bruna Nunes, and says she set up the page so that her daughter will never be forgotten.

In memory of Bruna, Lília occasionally announces “Masses” that are held in local churches.

There are some stories in journalism that one never forgets. This is one of them.


  • When Bruna went missing, everyone talked of the girl with the smile in her eyes.
  • Bruna Nunes was a beauty, a hard-working pupil at Lagos Júlio Dantas high-school, a keen sports enthusiast and a very much-loved friend.
  • She went missing on December 11 and her half-naked body was found on waste ground three days later. Her hands had been tied, she had been sexually assaulted and her head had been smashed in with what investigators suggested was rock. The autopsy termed her injuries as “lacerations to the brain with a cranial fracture”. Round her neck were marks consistent with strangulation.
  • Oprea went missing the day before Bruna’s body was found. He had apparently behaved perfectly normally in the two days following her disappearance, only to disappear with Bruna’s mother’s car and a number of valuables on the pretext of going to collect wood.
  • According to Correio da Manhã, Oprea was “sighted in Spain”, the day Bruna’s murder was broadcast, but for reasons unknown, he was not detained.


0 #4 Mildred 2015-12-12 07:43
The police in developed countries have long wondered what connection Portuguese Police have to crime fighting.

In the current 'Coppers Times' is an anecdotal story of two north European detectives at a Europol Crime Conference and the younger of the two, on his first visit, asks the other "Why do that lot over there keep putting towels over the heads - then taking them off again?"

His buddy replying "Ah, lad - they are the Portuguese detectives. Whenever someone wanted, to us a criminal or suspect, is put up on the screen they must cover their eyes and shut their ears. Apparently it is something to do with the Old Religion. That they must NOT look upon the image of Allah and as Allah is everywhere - he is also in wanted criminals.

The problem though is when collecting in the hotel towels afterwards. The hotel want them back. At a previous conference a senior Portuguese detective was stopped leaving by 'our lads' with a hotel towel. He was saying that ' could he keep his as they were worth at least a weeks wages'

We ended up having a whip round so that all the Portuguese detectives could keep their towels. Then we discovered afterwards that they had stripped their hotel rooms of everything metal. So now we cannot use that hotel for conferences. They don't trust any of us. Hotel management say we Police are all alike."
-1 #3 Malcolm.H 2015-12-11 19:29
Is this what the 1974 Revolution was for? To keep in place an army of thousands of informers ? Secretly informing to the authorities. How else do the police operate here if photos illustrating someone (along with their descriptive features like height, weight, complexion, notable features) can all lead to 'false leads'? Yet the developed world uses them !

It does help explain why so many expats have told of changing a light bub / their underpants / their partner and within minutes the police / municipal officers / civil protection is at our door wanting to know "What are you playing at?"

And as Romanians stay together with those from their own village or nearest town; travel all over the European Union nowadays and most are understandably distrustful of the police here because they are treated like s**t so will not inform on their own - how can a Portuguese policeman even begin to establish feedback? And catch this bad guy?
+2 #2 Darren 2015-12-11 08:57
Not immediately obvious how any of us can help here - there is no Mikhail being looked for by Interpol. And Europol does not show wanted people.

Not even terrorists or suspected murderers. As we now all know - they too have a 'Right to Privacy'!
+3 #1 liveaboard 2015-12-11 08:21
It's unfortunate that the GNR has such poor relations with the civilian population; Not talking to police is the norm it seems.
In cases like this, that lack of trust leads to tragedy.