The much-anticipated reunion today of a mother in Omaha and her children from Brazil is off.
Brazilian authorities on Friday stopped the three children from boarding a flight to the United States, said Bev Carlson of Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska.
"The mother is, of course, heartbroken,'' Carlson said.
Wanderlucia Oliveira de Paiva — whose testimony in a Douglas County courtroom against her boyfriend helped prompt his murder confession — was hoping to greet the children this morning at Eppley Airfield.
Oliveira de Paiva hasn't seen them in 2½ years.
The mother and her children have been separated since she came to the United States to testify that Valdeir Goncalves-Santos, father of two of her children, had told her of his involvement in the killing of his boss in Omaha.
Goncalves-Santos broke down in August 2011 after his girlfriend's testimony. He then admitted to his role in killing Brazilian missionary Vanderlei Szczepanik and his wife, Jaqueline, and the couple's 7-year-old son, Christopher.
The man is expected to spend 10 years in prison.
A second man, Jose Oliveira-Coutinho, also was convicted and was sentenced to life in prison.
A third man, Elias Lourenco-Batista, is believed to be in Brazil and has an active warrant for his arrest in the case, said Rod James, criminal investigator for the Douglas County Attorney's Office.
The County Attorney's Office and Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska teamed up to provide help to Oliveira de Paiva and her children.
Carlson said her organization found donors who contributed about $2,000 to cover attorney fees so the children could leave Brazil. The agency also planned to help the children get into school, obtain Social Security numbers and gain other services.
James said the children would piggyback onto their mother's immigration status. She has a pending visa with the potential for citizenship.
The County Attorney's Office helped Oliveira de Paiva find a job and housing. A second Brazilian woman who was brought here to testify, Patricia Oliveira, also has received some assistance, as have her children, who came with her in 2011.
County Attorney Don Kleine said the women "were courageous enough to come up here and testify." Kleine said threats have been made in Brazil against Oliveira de Paiva.
Carlson said assisting Oliveira de Paiva fit well with Lutheran Family Services' mission.
"Our vision as an organization is safety, hope and well-being for all people, and this has sort of hit on all issues," Carlson said.