ARGENTINA: Gay Man Self-Identifies As A Woman In Apparent Effort To Avoid Femicide Charges After Murdering Surrogate

A gay man who admitted to murdering the surrogate mother he hired to have his children has told the court he identifies as a woman in what some are calling a bid to avoid a potentially lengthy sentence for femicide.

Fernando Alves Ferreira was detained in February of 2022 after admitting to the murder of Eduarda Santos, a surrogate he had hired who was living with him in the Argentinian city of Bariloche. Santos’ body was found by a tourist on the Circuito Chico Trail with 9 gunshot wounds. A later forensic examination revealed that Santos’ corpse also had injuries consistent with having been beaten prior to her death.

Two days after the killing, Ferreira turned himself into police. He repeatedly admitted to the crime while in custody, stating repeatedly “I did it. I killed her.” He was charged with femicide, premeditated murder, and use of a firearm owned without authorization, and expressed a desire in court to enter a guilty plea.

In Ferreira’s car, which was seized after he turned himself in, police found blood stains, leading them to theorize that a fight had broken out in the vehicle before Santos fled on foot. Ferreira then chased her down and shot her. Investigators noted that Ferreira had taken “every precaution to ensure the woman could not defend herself.” CCTV footage was also found of Ferreira disposing of his weapon.

The motivation for the crime is unclear, as Ferreira has refused to provide concrete details. Instead, he has vaguely accused Santos of being involved in illegal “gang” activity and suggested he was the victim in the situation. No evidence has been found to substantiate his claim.

Eduarda Santos, who was 26 at the time of her murder.

The court heard that Ferreira and Santos were both originally from Brazil, and that Ferreira, along with his husband, had hired Santos to be a surrogate in 2020.

Santos would give birth to twins for Ferreira and his partner, who would pass away the next year. The woman had apparently been living with the couple due to having a lack of her own economic resources.

The chief prosecutor in the case characterized Santos as being particularly vulnerable, and described her as having been “at the mercy” of Ferreira. Just one month prior to her murder, Santos had given birth to another child.

“Eduarda was a foreign woman who lived in Bariloche … She lived in the defendant’s house, lacked her own resources, and was at the mercy of the owner of the house,” chief prosecutor Martín Lozada stated during a hearing. “It was a situation of remarkable asymmetry. Eduarda was a woman to whom the accused had rented her womb to have two children through surrogacy, and since the birth of the twins, she lived in the same house.”

Prosecutors also argued that Ferreira had exercised “economic and psychological violence” on Santos for years, and that Santos was without any family or friends in Argentina.

In response, Ferreira accused Santos of being the aggressor, saying “she was not submissive.”

Santos’ family in Brazil have previously spoken out against Ferreira’s claims of victimhood, slamming media for giving him sympathetic coverage.

“My sister is the victim, not him,” Santos’ brother told Brazilian outlet O Dia last year. At the time, the family appeared to have been unaware of Santos’ situation in Argentina, believing she had gainful employment in the country. Santos’ family has been fighting for custody of the children she had as a surrogate for Ferreira in order to repatriate them to Brazil. Ferreira has demanded the children not be returned to Brazil.

It was the dynamic between Ferreira and Santos which led to prosecutors pursuing a conviction for femicide, which is defined as a gender-specific crime introduced in 2012 to address the nation’s epidemic of sex-based violence. According to the United Nations, one woman is murdered every 32 hours in Argentina. The femicide provision was defined broadly as “a crime against a woman when the act is perpetrated by a man and gender violence is mediated.”

But now, Ferreira’s lawyers are seeking to have the femicide charge withdrawn, arguing that their client no longer identifies as a man. This past week during a hearing, Ferreira’s lawyers stated that his name was now “Amanda,” and that he was going through the relevant legal procedures to have his self-declared gender identity recognized.

The prosecutors have reportedly pushed back against Ferreira’s request to be treated as a woman, but the case is still underway.

Of the charges Ferreira faced, the femicide claim carried the longest potential sentence of life imprisonment. If withdrawn, and if the other legal strategies stated by the defense are successful, Ferreira could spend as little as 10 years in prison for slaughtering Santos.

This is not the first time gender identity has interfered with a femicide-related crime in Argentina.

As previously reported by Reduxx, the brutal murder of a prostituted woman in Buenos Aires was initially recorded as a femicide until media learned that the two men involved in the killing identified as transgender.

Brenda Córdoba, 28, was murdered on November 10 of 2021 in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Balvanera. Grisly surveillance camera footage released by police during the investigation into her death showed Córdoba being approached by what appeared to be a man in a white hoodie and face mask. The man circled around to her back before grabbing her in a headlock and stabbing her multiple times in the chest.

Córdoba, who was dropped into a puddle of her own blood, was initially found alive by passersby who had attempted to intervene in the stabbing and rushed to hospital. She died as a result of her injuries days later.

Her killers were apprehended by police after an appeal to the community with CCTV footage of the murder. While media initially reported the crime as having been a femicide, the term was quickly scrubbed from reporting after the gender identities of Córdoba’s killers were established.

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Anna Slatz

Anna is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Reduxx, with a journalistic focus on covering crime, child predators, and women's rights. She lives in Canada, enjoys Opera, and kvetches in her spare time.

Anna Slatz
Anna Slatz
Anna is the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief at Reduxx, with a journalistic focus on covering crime, child predators, and women's rights. She lives in Canada, enjoys Opera, and kvetches in her spare time.