Joao Rodrigo Silva Santos, a former Brazilian professional soccer player, was discovered dead by his wife when she found his severed head in a backpack outside the door of their home on Oct. 29, according to news reports.
Santos, 35, who had played for several teams both in and outside of Brazil, had been missing for several days. He was last seen on Oct. 28 being forced into a car near his home. His wife, Geisa Silva, grew concerned when he did not return to their Rio de Janeiro home and police began a search, according to news accounts.
Silva, a social worker who works with police investigating drug gangs, allegedly told authorities that neither she nor her husband had any enemies and she could not think of anyone who would want to injure him. Police, however, said he may have been targeted by gang members involved in drugs because of his wife’s work.
“She was getting ready to go to work at 5:30 a.m. when she heard a noise, opened the door and saw his rucksack,” a relative told News.com.au about Silva’s shocking discovery. “Inside was his head.”
Media reports said Santos his eyes and tongue had been cut out. His body had not been found as of Oct. 31.
According to The (London) Daily Mirror, Santos opened a food store after leaving soccer in 2011. The website reported that witnesses said Santos was accosted after closing his business one evening.
The Guardian reported that the police unit Silva works with has been cracking down on local gangs ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.