The wife of a former Brazilian professional footballer opened the front door of her house to find her husband’s severed head on the doorstep.
João Rodrigo Silva Santos’s head was inside a backpack and his eyes and tongue had been gouged out, ccording to Brazilian media reports.
Police in Rio de Janeiro have launched a murder investigation, CNN reports.
The 35-year-old footballer was a forward for a number of mostly second-tier Rio de Janeiro football teams before retiring earlier this year and opening a health foods store.
One police official told Brazil’s O Globo newspaper that authorities are investigating whether a recent post on the health food store's Facebook page could be connected to the crime.
The post showed surveillance footage and asked for help catching shoplifters.
His wife found his head outside their house Tuesday morning after Santos failed to come home Monday night.
He was last seen on Monday night, when two suspects entered his personal vehicle.
Police found parts of a man’s body in a river outside the city and are carrying out DNA test to see whether the remains are that of Santos.
His death comes at a time when football fans worldwide are shifting their focus towards Brazil, which will host the World Cup in 2014.
Late last year, the country announced it was pumping over €750m 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.
Santos started his football career when he was 16 years old, and played for several Brazilian club teams.
He played for the Bangu club team from 1996 to 2005, according to the club’s unofficial website.
In 1998, he played for Honduras' Olimpia club. And in 2003 he played for Sweden's Oster club.
The website calls Santos a “humble hero”.