By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Former footballer João Rodrigo Silva Santos was kidnapped and murdered on Monday night in a crime that shocked the city. His wife had reported him missing at around 9PM in the evening, only to wake up the next morning and find his head in a rucksack on the doorstep of their home in the Realengo neighborhood in Zona Oeste (West Zone).

Former Footballer Beheaded in Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
João Rodrigo Silva Santos’ head was left in a rucksack on his front doorstep, image recreation.

His eyes and tongue had been gouged out in what looked like a gang execution, according to reports in the Brazilian press. Witnesses claim they saw him being bundled into his car by two men on Monday evening and police have already spoken to ten people in connection with the crime.

Santos played for a host of small teams, including Carioca clubs Bangu and Madureira. He spent nine years at Bangu, netting 33 goals in 103 appearances.

His career also took him abroad and he had spells in Sweden and Honduras. Since hanging up his boots, he had opened a health foods store.

His murder comes at a time when there is increased medi attention on Rio and Brazil as the country prepares to host the 2014 World Cup in June and July next year. In Rio de Janeiro, local government is striving to make the city safer, the most notable measure being the installation of UPP units in the favelas on the hillsides above the city.

Rumors are abound as to the motive for such a brutal killing. Neighbors say Mr. Santos had no enemies and one theory reported in the Brazilian media is connected to his wife.

Mrs. Silva reportedly works in the São Carlos favela in Zona Norte (North Zone), helping to wrest power away from drug dealers in the area and her husband was murdered as a threat. Other reports claim she only worked there as a swimming teacher.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


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