Santos da Conceição’s body was found with signs of torture in the northeast state of Bahia, one day after he was kidnapped by armed assailants, according to news reports.
Santos da Conceição, who was also a musician and owned a bar, was playing samba in his bar in the neighboring town of Governador Mangabeira on the night of May 22 when armed and hooded men appeared at the establishment, according to news reports. The men fired shots in the air, dragged Santos da Conceição into the trunk of their white car, and fled, according to one report.
Police found his body the next morning in Timbó, a rural community just outside Conceição da Feira. They found 25 shells of 0.40, 0.38 and 0.45 caliber guns beside his body, a local police officer told CPJ. "He was tortured, his right eye had been gouged out, and his tongue had been hacked off," the officer said, declining to give his name because he was not directly involved in the investigation. "According to the specialists, the cruelty of his killing means it was a crime that was done to order," he said.
Other news reports said that Santos da Conceição had been shot in the leg, chest, abdomen, and face, and that his body showed signs of torture.
Santos da Conceição, 53, presented the daily morning program "Acorda Cidade" on RCA FM, a community radio station in Conceição da Feira, a town of about 22,000 people, about 80 miles northwest of Salvador, the state capital of Bahia, according to the Brazilian Association of Community Broadcasting (ABRAÇO Bahia).
A police officer who spoke with CPJ and local news reports said the journalist’s radio program was popular in the area and that he often reported and demanded action on local crime and corruption.
"It was sensationalist, and when you do that you damage egos and get to people," Everaldo Monteiro, the coordinator of the Bahia State Union of Radio, TV and Publicity Workers, told CPJ.
"Djalma Santos was known for being very controversial," Jairo Bispo dos Santos, ABRAÇO’s executive coordinator, said in a statement.
News reports said Santos da Conceição had received death threats in the past and one report cited local police as saying he had received a threatening call on the day of his disappearance. The report did not offer further details. The journalist had recently been investigating the murder of a local teenager by criminal groups, according to Época magazine.
In July 2018, the police investigation was closed and archived without identifying any suspects responsible for the killing, according to a 2019 report by the National Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.