Man studying hallucinogenic medicine lynched by Peruvian mob after being accused of killing village shaman
Authorities said that a Canadian man was lynched by a murderous mob in Peru last week after locals blamed him for shooting and killing a village shaman. The 41-year-old had allegedly made the trip to study hallucinogenic medicine.
On Saturday, officials dug up Sebastian Woodroffe's body from an unmarked grave in the Ucayali region of the Amazon rainforest. A cellphone footage of a bloodied man had emerged in which he, believed to be Woodroffe, is being dragged by the neck between thatched-roof homes in the indigenous community of Victoria Gracia. The said footage prompted an investigation by local authorities, according to Naija Scrib.
El Comercio reported that Woodroffe's body had been found in San Pablo de Tushmo in the Yarinacocha district.
CBC reported that Woodroffe was killed on Thursday when another body of an octogenarian plant healer was found in her home with two gunshot wounds. Olivia Arevalo, who was from the Shipibo-Konibo tribe of northeastern Peru, was 81 years old at the time of her death. Locals, who viewed the plant healer as a community leader, immediately blamed Woodroffe for Arevalo's death. Peruvian authorities said he was her client.
One of the authorities said that the autopsy showed that Woodroffe had received numerous blows to his body before he was strangulated to 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," Yarrow Willard, a friend of Woodroffe, told the CBC.
Arevalo was known to practice a traditional form of singing medicine that reportedly removed negative energies from individuals. She was also a staunch defender of indigenous people's rights in the region. Back in 2016, Woodroffe, who was the father of a 9-year-old son, hoped to get an apprenticeship with a plant healer from the aforementioned tribe and thus traveled to Peru. The Canadian national aspired to become an addiction counselor using hallucinogenic medicines, reported Fox News.
Woodroffe was seeking financial help to advance his medicinal studies. He had set up an Indiegogo crowd-funding website in which he wrote: "The plant medicine I have the opportunity of learning is far deeper than ingesting a plant and being healed. It is not about getting 'high' either. It is true some of the plants I will be learning about do have a perception-altering effect, but these are a few plants out of thousands I will be working with."
According to Willard, Woodroffe would never do something like this. He told CBC that he feared his friend was deceived by the actual culprits within the locals. "This is not right at all," Willard said.
"He is a little bit of a, I'll call it a s--- disturber. One of these people who likes to poke, and likes to test the boundaries of people's beliefs, but is very much a gentle person underneath all that,” Willard said on Woodroffe. “This man has never had a gun or talked about anything along that line."
Having said that, some of Woodroffe's friends claim that he had become detached after trying a hallucinogenic cocktail called ayahuasca, also known as yage. The said concoction is taken by some tourists for mind-altering experiences. It has been patronized by indigenous tribes in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil as a cure for several health issues.
However, according to Willard, when Woodroffe came back from South America, he was “not broken, but troubled.”
In a freak incident back in 2015, a Canadian national had fatally stabbed a tourist from England after consuming ayahuasca together in a spiritual ceremony. The murder had taken place a few miles away from where Woodroffe was killed.