The decapitated body of Evany José Metzker was found on May 18 in a ditch just outside the town of Padre Paraíso, in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. His head had been cut off and was found 100 meters from the rest of his body, which was badly decomposed, according to press reports. He was half naked and his hands were tied behind his back, the daily O Globo said. He still had his wallet, watch, and ring.
The journalist had last been seen in a local hotel on May 13, according to news reports. Francisco Couy, an officer with the local coroner’s office, told CPJ by phone that Metzker was probably killed on May 13 or 14. The officer also read out details of the case in a YouTube video.
Metzker, 67, wrote a blog called Coruja Do Vale, which focused on general political news and official wrongdoing in the impoverished north and eastern parts of Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s biggest states. The blog reported news such as arrests made at police roadblocks, parking violations by local authorities, and community interest stories, according to CPJ’s review of its content.
The journalist’s wife, Ilma Chaves Silva Borges, told CPJ that they lived in the town of Medina, but that Metzker had traveled to Padre Paraíso about three months ago to do some investigative work, about which she did not provide further details. “He was doing investigative journalism in a region that is very dangerous,” Borges told CPJ. “There are lots of murders here. I think that the motive–given the barbarity of his murder–was because he hit on something. He investigated mayors, politicians, cargo robberies, prostitution,” she said.
The magazine Época said that on his blog Metzker had published stories about government cars being used for personal use and poor local medical care, but that he was investigating even riskier stories about the activities of local criminal groups and drug traffickers. Several local news reports said Metzker had been investigating a child prostitution ring that was active in the area. A May 9 post on his blog featured an image of a Wild West-style gunslinger with the words, “Welcome to Padre Paraíso.” The caption below reads: “Here there are no rules or laws.”
Fabrícia Noronha, the lead investigator in the case, told CPJ that authorities were pursuing two lines of investigation. “One is that it was related to his work as an investigative journalist, and the other is a possible crime of passion,” she said. She did not provide further details.
In the weeks after the crime, the local daily O Tempo cited the police chief in charge of investigating the crime, Emerson Morais, as saying that he thought the line of investigation related to Metzker’s journalism was “weak.” The daily also cited anonymous officials who alleged Metzker could have been personally involved the child prostitution ring he was investigating, but provided no evidence or further details to back up the claim. A local journalist who spoke with CPJ but asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal said he had never heard anything linking Metzker personally to such activity before his death.
Metkzer’s wife told local reporters she was certain her husband had been killed for his work. In the days after the discovery of Metzker’s body, two other journalists who asked to remain anonymous told the Minais Gerais Journalists Union that the climate for journalism was dangerous and that Metzker was fearless, according to news reports. They said they believed he had been killed for his investigations, according to the reports.