Gomes da Rocha
Gomes de Rocha is in police custody after confessing to killing 39 people. AFP / Getty Images

A Brazilian security guard has confessed to murdering 39 people.

26-year-old Thiago Henrique Gomes da Rocha was arrested by police in Brazil after confessing to the crimes.

He was initially stopped by police for the minor offence of riding a motorbike with a fake number plate, but appeared to unravel while in police custody.

Gomes da Rocha attributed the killings to the "fury he felt against everything," explaining that his rage and anxiety only subsided when he committed a murder.

Among the victims were 16 women from the city of Goiania; transvestites; several homeless people and a 14-year-old girl, who was killed in a park in January. The string of unexplained murders had caused panic among the local population as he terrorised the community.

I believe he is a serial killer. To start with he killed at random but towards the end he established a pattern.
- Police chief Joao Gorski

Families and friends of the murdered women had earlier this year staged a series of demonstrations to put pressure on the police and local government to find him.

The self-confessed murderer explained he went on killing sprees while "cruising the streets," shooting his victims dead from a motorbike, revealing that before pulling the trigger, he would always shout 'robbery', but then fled the scene of the murders without taking anything.

He was arrested on Tuesday by a special police task force set up to catch the serial killer.

Police chief Joao Gorski, said: "I believe he is a serial killer. To start with he killed at random but towards the end he established a pattern.

Goias state governor Marconi Perillo added: "I have received confirmation of an excellent piece of news, the identification, arrest and remand in custody of the killer responsible for the deaths of women and street people in Goiania who even confessed to his crimes.

"I never doubted the investigation would lead to the solving of these crimes that affected the tranquillity and integrity of families in Goiania. I know this won't fill the hole left by the deaths of loved ones but I am sure it will serve as some comfort to their families and society," he added.

Gomes da Rocha
Clothes and weapons were seized from the suspected serial killer's home. AFP / Getty Images

The suspected murder weapon, a.38 revolver, was seized from the home he shared with his mother, during a search.

If convicted of the 39 killings, the self-confessed murderer would be one of the world's most prolific serial killers.

Topping the list of the 15 most prolific modern serial killers Colombian Luis Garavito, a child murderer and rapist known as La Bestia or The Beast. While he is confirmed to have killed 138 children, it's thought the actual number of his child victims is nearer 400.

Pedro Rodrigues Filho, Brazil's most prolific killer, claimed to have killed more than 100 victims, 47 of them inmates. He was convicted of killing 71 people. He killed his first two victims at the age of 14 and murdered his father and ate a piece of his heart.

Gomes da Rocha is being held in prison after being remanded in custody. It was reported that he had earlier attempted suicide by slitting his wrists after smashing the light bulb in his cell.