Police in Brazil have launched a manhunt after the severed head of a former professional footballer was left on the doorstep of his home.
The horrified wife of Joao Rodrigo Silva Santos, 35, made the gruesome discovery as she left the house in Rio de Janeiro for work early in the morning.
The player’s eyes and tongue had been cut out and his head placed inside one of his own rucksacks, police said.
Mr Santos retired from football two years ago after a successful career playing for several teams in Rio de Janeiro, as well as for clubs in Sweden and Honduras.
He had recently set up his own business selling health foods and dietary supplements.
Police said today that Mr Santos is believed to have been snatched from outside the shop he had opened in the Realengo district of Rio as he closed up at around 7.45pm on Monday.
Witnesses said they saw several men bundling him into his car, a Hyundai i30, and speeding off just before midnight, a spokesman said. He was reported missing by his wife at 9pm on Monday.
Suffice to say, the discovery was a gruesome scene.
Mr Santos’ brother-in-law, who didn’t want to be named, told Brazil’s Globo G1 website that the player’s wife, Geisa Silva, 31, stayed up all night after her husband failed to arrive home.
He said: ‘Every time a car passed by she would go to see.
‘She was getting ready to go to work at around 5.30am when she heard a noise, opened the front door and saw his rucksack.
‘When she opened it she discovered it contained his 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,’ said the horrified relative.
Neighbours living close to the crime scene reported hearing a woman screaming: ‘My God, it’s Joao! It’s Joao’s head.’
Investigators still have no idea who might have done this and neighbors say that Joao was a good man who didn’t involve himself illegal activities.
R.I.P. Joao Rodrigo Silva Santos.