João Rodrigo Santos Silva played as a striker for several teams in Brazil, as well as stints in Sweden and Honduras, up until his retirement two years ago. In the early hours of Tuesday morning, his wife opened the door of their home to see one of his backpacks on the step. When she opened it, she found his severed head, with the eyes and tongue cut out.
This isn't a creepy Halloween story, but a genuine gruesome murder that took place in Rio de Janeiro's Realengo neighborhood this week.
After hanging up his boots, Silva opened a health food store. According to Brazilian news site G1 Globo, witnesses saw him being bundled into a car by armed men after he locked up his store on Monday evening. His brother-in-law explained to the site that his wife Geisa Silva stayed up all night when her husband didn't return home (quotes translated via The Mirror):
"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, it was his head.
"From what I know, he didn't have any enemies and neither did his wife."
The brother-in-law also said that family members had identified a torso found near the Guandu river in Queimados, around 25 miles north-west of his home. The motive for the violent killing of a player nicknamed "Humble Hero" is not yet clear, but investigators believe it may have something to do with the fact that his wife is a social worker at a "Pacifying Police Unit" in a local slum. Her organisation, based in a military police base, aims to wrestle control of the favelas back from the drug traffickers.
Silva was 35 years old and did not have a criminal record. According to The Daily Mail, he and his wife were described as "lovely" by shocked neighbors.
Sadly, this isn't the first football-related decapitation Brazil has suffered this year. In July, a 20-year-old referee was quartered and beheaded by a baying crowd at an amateur match after he stabbed a player.
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