By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO
Published: July 30, 2010
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The police said Friday that they had charged the goalie of Brazil’s most popular soccer club, Flamengo, with murder in the disappearance of a former lover who claimed to have had his child.
In a case that has dominated news coverage for weeks in this soccer-obsessed nation, the police said they had concluded their investigation and were charging the goalie, Bruno Fernandes das Dores de Souza, 25, and eight friends and family members in the killing of Eliza Samudio, 25, who disappeared in early June.
Since the police first said they had discovered the blood of Ms. Samudio in Mr. Souza’s car in early June, Brazilians have been exposed to a barrage of soap opera-like revelations and gruesome details. The investigation intensified during the last few days of the World Cup, when the police took Mr. Souza into custody, where he has remained since.
The relationship began last year when the soccer player, who was not on the Brazilian World Cup team, and Ms. Samudio met at a party in Rio de Janeiro. Soon after, the police said, she discovered she was pregnant and told him he was the father. Mr. Souza, who is married, apparently did not take the news well. Last October, she filed a complaint with the police in Rio saying he had kidnapped her and tried to threaten her into having an abortion.
She moved to São Paulo, where the baby, a boy, was born in February. Then in May, Ms. Samudio went back to Rio to find Mr. Souza, the police said.
The police said Friday that Mr. Souza later organized a group of his friends and family members to take Ms. Samudio and her baby to his home in the state of Minas Gerais, where they said she was held hostage and ultimately strangled.
Ms. Samudio’s 4-month-old son was later found alive in the house of strangers in a nearby town in Minas Gerais.
“Bruno is the intellectual mastermind and material author of the crime,” Edson Moreira, the lead investigator on the case, said Friday. “He actively participated in the execution of the crime.”
Mr. Souza’s lawyers maintain he is innocent, and Frederico Franco, one of those lawyers, said, “The investigation did not prove that Bruno committed any criminal act.”
Mr. Franco, whose team is representing six of the nine people charged on Friday, said that his clients did not deny that Ms. Samudio was at Mr. Souza’s house in Minas Gerais, but that they denied she had been kidnapped and killed. Ms. Samudio’s body has not been found.
Mr. Moreira, the investigator, said Mr. Souza was in the house when an acquaintance, a former police officer, strangled Ms. Samudio. Mr. Souza’s teenage cousin told the police that the woman’s body was later cut up and that some parts were fed to Rottweilers, while other parts were buried under concrete.
The former police officer was charged with murder. Mr. Souza’s wife, his best friend, several other friends and another supposed lover were also charged with involvement in the crime.
Flamengo is a storied soccer club with an estimated following of more than 33 million people in Brazil alone. This month, Flamengo suspended Mr. Souza’s contract. He had been the club’s goalkeeper since 2006.