BRASILIA, Brazil - The stepfather of a 2-year-old boy found with 42 needles in his body confessed to jabbing them into the toddler during weeks of rituals with a woman he claimed had received instructions through trances, Brazilian police said yesterday.

Roberto Carlos Magalhaes, 30, a bricklayer, told detectives that the woman had gone into a trance and would "command him to stick the needles in the boy's body," police inspector Helder Fernandes Santana said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press.

The two held repeated sessions over several weeks, and perhaps longer, in which they inserted the needles in the child, Santana said.

"According to his confession, he acted under influence of the woman, but it was he who stuck the needles in the boy's body," the inspector said. The stepfather, the woman he said went into trances and another woman at some of the rituals have been arrested, though no charges have yet been filed.

An enraged crowd of more than 100 people surrounded and hurled rocks at the police station in the small northeastern city of Ibotirama, where the suspects were held Wednesday night. Santana said they broke out a window of his own car because they wrongly believed the suspects were in it.

The child, meanwhile, was airlifted to the heart unit of a major hospital in northeastern Brazil yesterday because two of the needles are close to his heart, but it was not immediately clear when doctors might be able to remove them.