Thursday, October 31, 2013

Latin American crime: Former Brazilian footballer's head left on his doorstep

João Rodrigo Silva Santos didn't come home one night recently. When the former professional footballer's wife opened the door on her way to work the next morning, she found his severed head on their front step. The head was inside a backpack, police said. Santos' eyes and tongue had been gouged out. Now police in Rio de Janeiro are investigating the grisly killing, though they haven't said who they believe is behind it. Santos, 35, was a forward for a number of mostly second-tier Rio de Janeiro football teams before retiring and opening a health foods store. His death comes at a time when football fans worldwide are shifting their focus toward Brazil, which will host the World Cup in 2014. Late in 2012, the country announced it was pumping $900 million dollars into its security budget to make the competition "one of the most protected sports events in history." World football's ruling body FIFA had expressed concern about Brazil's increasing crime rate, particularly in Sao Paulo. One police official said that authorities are investigating whether a recent post on the store's Facebook page could be connected to the crime. The post showed surveillance footage and asked for help catching shoplifters. Police plan to compare the images to surveillance footage taken at the shop the night of the murder, chief homicide investigator Rafael Rangel said. The former football player was last seen the night he was murdered, when two suspects entered his vehicle. Police said that they found parts of a man's body in a river outside the city and were testing the DNA to see whether the remains belong to Santos. Authorities have interviewed 10 witnesses so far in the case, police said. Santos' wife, Geisa Silva, worked for the police in one of Rio's shantytowns, but as a social worker giving swimming lessons to children, not as a policewoman.

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