At the centre of the dark drama is Bruno Souza, goalkeeper and captain of defending club champion Flamengo, who surrendered to police on Wednesday to face questioning in connection with the disappearance and suspected death of Eliza Samudio.
The story of the married 25-year-old player known simply as Bruno has stunned this nation, where police held a press conference on Thursday to lay out the horrific crimes and Souza’s bloody role in them.
“An idol like Bruno, from such a major team, is a monster for what he has done to this girl,” said Minas Gerais state police commissioner Edson Moreira, one of the officials leading the investigation.
“The crime was coldly planned and executed. We can conclude that Eliza is dead.”
Police believe Bruno was near Belo Horizonte with Samudio last month at the time of her murder, and that her body was later cut into pieces, some of which were fed to dogs in a bid to cover the murder.
When Bruno was transferred from Rio de Janeiro to a police station late Thursday in the city of Belo Horizonte, he was met with cries of “murderer!” from onlookers, O Globo reported on its website.
Samudio was described by the newspaper as “a student, model and pornographic film actress”.
She was also the mother of a four-month-old baby and reportedly had sought to establish that Bruno was the child’s father.
Samudio’s body has not been found, but Bruno’s 17-year-old cousin, who acknowledged helping in her abduction, claimed in a lengthy deposition to police that the woman was strangled, officials said.
The cousin also claimed to have heard Bruno tell associates to “solve the problem” with Samudio.
According to investigators, she was strangled by a former police officer, Marcos Aparecido dos Santos.
Another one of Bruno’s cousins said in his deposition that Santos committed “barbaric tortures” against Samudio, and that music was blared from her locked room so that neighbours could not hear her screams, according to the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.
The victim had begged Santos to stop abusing her, saying she could no longer bear it, according to O Estado, citing the deposition.
“You are not going to bear it anymore,” Santos replied. “You are going to die.”
Both papers reported that Santos fed some of her remains to the Rottweiler dogs kept at the house.
Samudio met Bruno in 2009 at the home of a Flamengo teammate, according to Istoe magazine. In October, when she was five months pregnant, she reportedly filed a complaint against Bruno, saying he kidnapped and beat her and tried to force her to swallow abortion-inducing medication.
Authorities said they ordered the detention of Bruno’s wife, Dayana Rodrigues, who was found with Samudio’s baby.
For his part, Bruno recently told radio Globo that he had a “clear conscience” about Samudio’s disappearance.
“In the future, I’ll laugh about all of this,” he said.
But in a brief Globo video clip of him discussing his future with police, he sounded sombre about his future.
“In Brazil, my hope to compete in the World Cup in 2014 is over,” he said.