Jorge Beltrao Negromonte has been jailed for 23 years for the murder of three young women
It’s particularly off-putting because the man across the table is cannibal Jorge Beltrao Negromonte, who made meat pasties from his victims’ flesh.
The former university professor also ate it sauteed with onions and oregano or made into a stew with vegetables.
Negromonte, 54, even butchered one woman in front of her 18-month-old daughter, then fed the toddler pieces of her dead mother for lunch the next day.
He says he sees no difference between eating human flesh and tucking into some beef, and stuffed plenty of the former into the pasties known as empadas he sold on the streets close to his home in Garanhuns, northeastern Brazil.
The serial killer has not savoured the “succulent” taste of human flesh for at least three years – and I’m about to spend the next four hours alone in a cell with him.
But despite his shaved head and cold stare – and that distracting lip-licking habit – when he starts to talk he is far from the bloodthirsty monster I expected.
The karate black belt says: “For people to be safe, I need to be in here. If I were let out as I am today, I could kill another one. Human meat, for me, is no different to beef.”
Negromonte, his wife Isabel Cristina Pires, 54, and mistress Bruna Cristina da Silva, 24, formed a religious sect together and ate the women believing it would cleanse the victim of their “sins”.
The gang were convinced the girls would give birth to “thieves and lowlifes”, and together they practised what they called “population control”, luring young women to their home and murdering them.
Negromonte says: “The women would prepare the meat. I can’t remember if we ever fried it like a steak. I did buy a mincing machine for Bruna, but I’m not sure if she used it.
“The meat would last for three or four days. We would have it for lunch and dinner until it was all gone.”
Negromonte is one of 997 criminals crammed into Desembargador Augusto Duque prison, which was built to house just 144 inmates in the mud-brick town of Pesqueira.
He normally shares his five bed cell with 33 other prisoners.
He was sentenced to 23 years in prison in November 2013 for murdering three young women aged 17, 20 and 21.
The crimes shocked the world when they were finally uncovered in March 2012, but Negromonte insists some details about the murders and his motives remain untold.
He even hints there may have been more victims the police know nothing about.
But this is a psychopath whose story changes like the wind. Contrary to his sworn statements in court, he claims he never intended to kill anyone.
He is a victim too, a schizophrenic, controlled by his young lover Bruna, a witch who was inspired to cook and kill women by a book of satanic rituals.
Then, just minutes later, he reveals what may have the true motive behind his horrific crime – his hatred of “uneducated” mothers, born of frustration because he could not father a child himself despite trying with Isabel for eight years.
Negromonte says: “Isabel lost one, then another one. So we went to the doctor and she started treatment, but I don’t know what they did because after that she didn’t even get pregnant again.
“And then you look around and there are uneducated people everywhere who are producing them one after the other.
“They don’t have anything of worth to pass on to them. They are just producing thieves and low-lifes.”
With a breathtaking lack of remorse he adds: “The pain the families of those women are suffering is the same pain I am suffering.
“I’m also feeling the pain of not having a family. I see myself as a victim, too.”
Born in the Brazilian city of Recife, Negromonte was the youngest of four brothers. His father was a respected lawyer and his mother a university professor, both Portuguese immigrants.
After graduating from the state university, Negromonte says he opened a gym and joined a group of young activists fighting the military dictatorship before meeting and marrying Isabel in 1984.
He met Bruna, then just 16, while teaching physical education at the local naval club in 2003.
“One day she came up to me and kissed me,” he says.
“Bruna knew she could control me. She was the one who wanted to murder the women. It was her idea to eat them.
“She convinced me to stop taking my medicines, because then she could use me.”
Their first victim was Jessica Pereira, 17, who lived in squalor with her 18-month-old baby girl. The trio bought her milk, nappies and a new cot to convince her to move in with them.
But when she tried to go back to her family in May 2008, they murdered her, stripped her flesh using pieces of sheet metal and stored it in the freezer before burying her bones in the back yard.
Negromonte says: “Bruna came down and told me, “She’s a bad person, she has no love for her daughter.
“After that I only remember flashes. Blood spurting from her neck, her lifeless body in the bathroom, then her in pieces on the bathroom floor.”
The trio later cooked and ate her flesh with salt and oregano, even feeding it to her young daughter. Bruna then began to use Jessica’s identity documents to act as the girl’s mother.
Four years later the despicable ‘family’ moved to the coastal city of Joao Pessoa and bought a smallholding.
That was where their reign of terror nearly ended when police kicked down their door and threatened to arrest them while investigating a nearby disturbance.
Negromonte says: “I gave the chief my smallholding, and all the furniture. Then the problem was resolved, we left and nothing else was said.”
That policeman’s corruption cost at least two more women their lives.
Moving to Garanhuns, a city of 130,000 people 100 miles inland, the trio killed again and could have slaughtered many more young women if they had not been caught so quickly.
Together they formed a sect called The Cartel, supposedly with the aim of stopping the world becoming overpopulated with bad souls.
They even started selling books filled with their bizarre teachings, one chapter describing how he killed, skinned and served up Jessica for his harem.
Negromonte met his second known victim, evangelical Christian Giselly Helena da Silva, 21, at a doctor’s clinic in February 2012.
He says: “I thought she could become a good friend to Bruna, so I took her number.
“But then Bruna told me how she had confided that she had tried to kill her son, and that she had beaten up her young nephew.
“One day Bruna asked Giselly to come to our house. I remember walking into the kitchen holding a hammer, and then seeing Bruna’s face. She said: ‘it can be now’.
“After that I just remember flashes, the reflection of a kitchen knife, a body, a dead person in the bathroom and the running shower.
“I came to my senses the next day, lying on the floor. I looked in the fridge and saw all the meat, already prepared.”
Once again the family sat down – with their adopted daughter, now aged five – and devoured their victim.
Just two weeks later the group lured another young woman, 20-year-old Alexandra da Silva Falcao, to her death by offering her a babysitting job.
Negromonte says: “We ate the meat again. It took four days to finish it off.”
But before the gang could kill again Bruna was caught on CCTV using Giselly’s credit card a month after she disappeared.
At first all three denied any crime, but later at the police station Isabel confessed to dismembering the women’s bodies and burying them in the house.
Negromonte says: “The police chief asked if she used the women’s meat in the empadas she sold by the road because he was a fan. Isabel said that if it was the meat that was in the freezer, then yes.”
Negromonte still insists he never meant to murder anyone, despite refusing to accept his victims were innocent. Even more disturbing he has started another sect in prison with a Christian pastor serving time for rape.
He says: “We meet in the prison chapel, play guitar and sing worship songs. I speak to the inmate like Moses did to his people. I teach them about what’s right and wrong.”
As Negromonte is led back to his cell, I ask prison director Renato Magalhaes what it is like having the infamous cannibal as one of his inmates.
“He hasn’t given me any headaches, he gets on well with everyone,” he says, adding with black prison humour, “but now he wants to work in the kitchen, which will cause me a whole lot of work. I’m going to have to check all the other prisoners still have their legs and arms.”