When my brother and I were in our teens we each had our own friends, although there was also some joint socialising. One of his pals, whom I shall call J, was a pleasant lad who frequented our house, had the occasional sleepover and brought his American girlfriend round from time to time. We also visited his house once and I remember his mum was very warm and welcoming. The family were Portuguese, originally from Mozambique and I think J had a younger sister. They weren´t particularly well-off but didn´t appear to be struggling financially. They had a little 'sitio', a small farm a few kilometres out of São Paulo. I´d never been there although my brother visited it for bbqs several times. J and I were much of an age and I remember he used to come to me sometimes for advice on his love life when he had a row with his girlfriend.
Anyway, around this time I moved to England to study nursing and this being before the days of cellphones and computers, when contact was by letter and international phone calls for emergencies only, I lost touch with what was going on back home. My brother later told me the following story.
J´s girlfriend had a younger brother, still a schoolboy at the time. One day the boy disappeared on his way home from school and it turned out he´d been kidnapped when his parents, wealthy Americans, received a ransom demand. The family were frantic with worry and friends rallied round to help in any way they could, with J naturally supporting his girlfriend. After a week or so of telephone negotiation a payment was agreed and arrangements made to hand over the money. After all this time I can´t remember the details but I believe the kidnappers made some sort of stupid mistake and they were caught in the act of picking up the money.
Imagine everyone´s shock and horror when it turned out the kidnappers were none other than J and his father. Not only had they kidnapped the poor boy but they murdered him as obviously he knew who they were, and although he was dead they still went on to demand a ransom. The body was buried at the little 'sitio' and my horrified brother said he had visited there only a couple of weeks beforehand. It is hard to believe someone you thought you knew could be capable of such a mercenary and cruel act. I believe they wanted the money to pay off gambling debts.
J and his father both went to prison to serve long sentences. The father died within a few years of cancer and J was killed not long after in a fight with a fellow prisoner. He had become one of the gang leaders in there and was being challenged by the other prisoner. I believe J´s mother returned to Mozambique with her daughter. I was told that she had been completely unaware of what had happened and it is impossible to imagine what a terrible awakening she must have had.
This all happened over fifty years ago. All in all not a good memory, and I hadn´t thought about it for a long time. I was reminded of it when watching a programme on Netflix about a crime in Brazil, recommended to me a couple of days ago by blogger Rachel.