A professional soccer player in Brazil was found beheaded this week in an apparent attack by drug traffickers.
Police believe that Joao Rodrigo Silva Santos, a 35-year-old Brazilian soccer player, was kidnapped outside of the health food store he owned in Rio, the Daily Mail reports. Santos’ wife, a police officer named Geisa Silva, reportedly made the grisly discovery.
Silva opened the front door of the couple’s house after hearing a noise and discovered a backpack that had belonged to her husband, Yahoo Eurosport reports via Brazilian news organization Globo. When she opened the bag, she discovered the Brazilian soccer player’s head -- missing its eyes and tongue.
Eyewitnesses reportedly told police that they saw a group of men attacking Santos and forcibly tossing him into a getaway car, the Daily Mail reports. His wife reported him missing around 9 a.m. Monday.
In an interview with Globo, one of Santos’ relatives, who desired to remain anonymous, described the scene. [Santos’ wife] was getting ready to go to work at around 5:30 a.m. when she heard a noise, opened the front door, and saw the rucksack,” the relative said. “When she opened it she discovered it contained [Santos’] head.”
“I did not want to look but the people who saw it said they had gouged out his eyes and cut off his tongue,” the relative added, according to the Daily Mail. “From what I know, he didn’t have any enemies and neither did his wife.”
Police in Brazil speculated that Santos’ beheading could be related to his wife’s work in a local slum, the Daily Mail reports. But local police chief Rafael Rangel said Santos’ wife worked as a social worker, and wasn’t involved in pursuing drug arrests. However, Yahoo Eurosport reports that Silva’s unit was an active part of Brazil’s effort to crack down on criminal organizations in advance of the 2014 World Cup in Rio. Regardless, the motive behind the beheading remains unclear.
“Mrs. Silva has no idea who would have done this,” Rangel told O Dia newspaper in Brazil. “Neither she, her husband or any other member of the family have suffered any type of threat as far as she knows. There is nothing that would justify such a barbarous crime.” Rangel also noted that police have yet to recover the rest of Santos’ beheaded body, the Daily Mail reports.
Santos, who earned the nickname “Humble Hero” during his career, played professional soccer from 1996 to 2005, the Daily Mail notes. The striker scored 33 goals in 103 career matches.