Killer wins beauty pageant while in prison

Staff writer

A prison beauty pageant has been won by a woman convicted of murdering her lover – and now she wants to be a model.

In its thirteenth year, the annual Miss Talavera Bruce beauty pageant is held in unlikely surroundings: a women's prison in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The Instituto Penal Talavera is the only maximum-security women's prison in the city with inmates serving life sentences for murder, fraud and drug trafficking. But for one day each year, a handful of the inmates are judged on something other than their crimes: 'their beauty and attitude' is taken into account as they vie for the first place sash and title of Miss Talavera Bruce - or 'TB Girl' as it is referred to.

Out of the estimated hundreds of inmates at the prison, only 10 make it the pageant, the selection based on behaviour records.

As well as dressing up and getting their hair and makeup done, the pageant provides a rare opportunity to see beloved family members somewhere other than the visitation room – and in some cases it's the only time inmates get to see their children.

This year's winner was 25-year-old Verônica Verone de Paiva, she said: "It was very good, to be able to participate in the pageant, I didn't expect to win first place but I am really happy, it really surprised me.

"It is very touching, it is a very joyful day, very happy," she added.

Convicted for murder in 2011, Verônica, also known as 'the fatal blonde' during her trial, was sentenced to 15 years for killing her lover in a hotel room, using a belt to choke him.

Having already served seven years and seven months of her sentence, she is hoping for an early release and according to local newspaper reports could even be released this year.

Verônica had dreams of becoming a model growing up, but said he mother stopped her from pursuing a modeling career.

She said: "I always tried to follow a modeling career, but my mother never agreed to that, but I intend to finish serving my sentence and get out of Brazil, to live in another country."