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Peruvian mob lynches Canadian suspected of killing shaman

By
Ray Downs
Sebastian Woodroffe, 41, went to Peru in 2016 to find a deeper meaning, friends said. Photo via Sebastian Woodroffe/Facebook
Sebastian Woodroffe, 41, went to Peru in 2016 to find a "deeper meaning," friends said. Photo via Sebastian Woodroffe/Facebook

April 19 (UPI) -- A Canadian man was lynched by a mob in Peru after he was accused of killing an 81-year-old shaman woman, police said.

Cellphone video 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.

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Woodroffe's body was then dumped in a shallow grave, where police located him on Saturday.

Police said the villagers accused Woodroffe of killing Olivia Arévalo, a local leader and healer, with two two gunshots. Woodroffe was believed to have been a patient of Arévalo's, the Guardian reported.

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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.

Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reported that Arévalo's death 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.

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According to the CBC, Woodroffe, originally from the Vancouver area, arrived in Peru 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 death.

"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.

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