We promise you’ve never been to a sporting event that ended like this.
It was Sunday, June 30, 2013 – a little overcast, but otherwise a great day to take in an amateur soccer match at the Pius XII stadium in Centro do Meio, a small town in the state of Maranhao, in northeastern Brazil.
As fans shuffled into the modest rural stadium, referee Otavio Jordao da Silva, age 20, joined the players on the pitch. Soon, the match was underway.
Whether it was close or a blowout has not been well documented, but what we can confirm is some manner of a final score: Well into the contest, as tensions were already running high, Josemir Santos Abreu, a player whose age is listed as either 30 or 31 in published reports, was expelled from the game by da Silva.
Angered by the call, Abreu exchanged words with da Silva and ultimately punched or pushed him to the ground. As he rose, da Silva pulled a knife out of his pocket and stabbed Abreu in the chest. The player fell backwards and to the ground, as teammates on either side struggled to digest what had just unfolded before their eyes. Abreu would later die of his wounds in an ambulance, on his way to a nearby hospital.
Now, it is unclear exactly why da Silva had been carrying a knife during a soccer match he was supposed to be overseeing, but this is when things really go awry.
Within seconds of the stabbing, players and spectators – some of whom were friends and family members of the victim – charged onto the pitch and rushed da Silva.
They disarmed him immediately and began beating him. Someone pulled out a rope, and as they beat and berated him, the mob tied da Silva’s arms and legs. Someone found stones nearby, and the beatings became a more savage stoning.
A man hit da Silva over the head with a wooden stake, then broke a bottle of rum on da Silva’s face. Another man took the knife that had been used to stab Abreu and stabbed the referee in the neck. For good measure, a noose was placed around da Silva’s neck, and he was violently lynched.
The mob was worked into a frenzy.
Yet another man then used a sickle to cut off da Silva’s arms and legs. They were apparently thrown around in celebration. Finally, da Silva’s head was cut off with the sickle and placed on the wooden stake in the middle of the field – a gruesome trophy.
Police eventually gained control of the situation, but two young men were dead in the most bizarre of finishes to any sporting event. A decapitated, dismembered corpse lay on the field.
Nearby at center, a head on a stake.
In the subsequent few days, Luis Moraes Souza, 27, was arrested and charged with murder. Police believe he was the man who smashed the bottle of rum on da Silva’s face. For his part, Souza has verified that he attended the event and was among the frenzied mob, but claims he played no role in the killing of da Silva.
Police say Souza’s brother, Francisco, may have been the man with the sickle – the man who placed da Silva’s head on the stake – adding that Francisco may have been on drugs at the
time. He and at least one other person of interest remain at large, according to the most recent reports we could find.