STRONG TRIGGER WARNING for very graphic, very disturbing descriptions of intimate partner murder. PLEASE PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Making the rounds is a horrifying story about the murder of Eliza Samudio, a Brazilian woman who has been missing for a month. Charged in the case is football goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes Das Dores de Souza. Her association with Souza, and her claim that he is the father of her four-month-old baby, is what made the news of her disappearance such big news to begin with. Now that allegations have been made, and truly gruesome details about her killing have emerged, the news has gotten much, much bigger. Last chance on that trigger warning.
Investigators in the state of Minas Gerais said Bruno Fernandes Das Dores de Souza, who played for Flamengo football club, orchestrated the murder of Eliza Samudio, 25. Her body remains missing a month after her disappearance.
Minas Gerais police investigator Wagner Pinto told reporters Thursday that Souza watched as Samudio was asphyxiated, mutilated and eventually fed to dogs. He said the details surfaced during a confession from Souza’s 17-year-old cousin.
During the alleged confession, the cousin details how he worked with two of Bruno’s friends — Luiz Henrique Ferreira Romao, nicknamed “Spaghetti,” and former policeman Marcos Aparecido dos Santos, known as “Bola.” Both men have been arrested in connection with the investigation.
“They tied her hands, and this other individual strangled her,” Pinto said, referring to Santos. Later they deboned and disemboweled her,” Pinto said.
The woman’s body was taken to an undisclosed location where her remains were fed to several Rottweilers, police said.
The cousin told investigators that he witnessed Souza watching the entire incident, Pinto said.
Of course, Souza denies all of the allegations and suggests that his cousin invented the story. Seeing as how prior to her murder, Samudio went to police with allegations that Souza had beaten her and threatened her with death if she did not have an abortion, this strikes me as unlikely, to say the least.
I’m not sure that there is a tactful way to write about this story. When I read headlines that blare Brazil Footballer’s Ex-Lover ‘Was Fed To Dogs’ and see all of the graphic details included above, I want to accuse the responsible outlets of sensationalism, of glorification of violence, of using this outrageous, misogynistic crime as a cheap way to earn page views and shock readers. And when I read a far more subdued version from CNN that buries and omits the most disturbing elements, I have the visceral reaction that they are downplaying the brutality of this act, covering up and abetting in misogynistic violence, and doing a disservice to victims of intimate partner violence everywhere by hiding the ugly truth.
I write often about problematic media framings of gender-based violence. This is a case where I can easily identify what is wrong, but cannot find any way to do things in a way that is right.
I don’t know how to write about this story myself. How to balance fact with my outrage, or tact with despair. I don’t know how to report on it in the least triggering, least sensationalistic way possible while also telling the brutal truth. I don’t know how to keep mind of the fact that a woman is dead, her life cut horrifically short, and to honor that fact — to remember that this is her story, her life — without also drawing bigger conclusions about misogyny, and women, and violence. I don’t know to sit here and balance the need to write this story in a way that is respectful to the victim with the need to not lose sight of the abject hate and complete, misogynistic dehumanization of dismembering her corpse and feeding it to dogs.
I am angry and mournful over Eliza Samudio’s murder. And I am so angry, so filled with rage, so unspeakably, indescribably furious, that she was given the final disrespect of being killed in such a way that it’s almost impossible for us to do the necessary work of talking about her death without also doing more harm.
Eliza Samudio was murdered. She was a person. A human being. She was murdered because she was a woman, because she was a mother. The repulsive details of how she was killed should not overshadow the loss of her life; downplaying the gruesome way in which she was killed is a disservice and danger to any attempt to remember and address why her life was lost at all. These facts contradict, and yet they exist simultaneously, uncomfortably, perhaps entirely irreconcilably.
I will close with this: Every day in Brazil, about 10 women are killed in acts of domestic violence. Every. Day. Every single day, 10 women’s lives. All taken. Stolen. Most cases don’t contain the horrifying, grisly details of this one. Most don’t involve famous football players. But they were all killed for the same reasons. Their lives, their bodies, their safety, their rights were all devalued in similar ways. Their male partners all decided that they had the right to decide that these women didn’t deserve to live anymore. They are all equally dead, equally murdered. And they all equally matter.