The bizarre and terrifying saga of the kidnapping of Aparecida Schunck, the mother-in-law of Formula One impresario Bernie Ecclestone, apparently came to an end on Sunday thanks to a daring police operation in Sao Paulo. Schunck was rescued by officers without the massive $37 million ransom being paid, according to news reports.
The BBC says that two suspects have been arrested and Schunck, 67, was not harmed. Police monitored calls between the kidnappers and the Ecclestone family, which led them to a house near Sao Paulo. When police broke down the door to the garage, they found Schunck tied up inside.
Also, the owners of the house reportedly had no idea their tenants had staged Brazil’s biggest kidnapping and ransom in history:
The owner of the house, who lived in one of the flats at the back of the building, said his wife had not stopped crying since she had found out that Ms Schunck had been held “right under our noses”.
The owner said one of the suspects arrested on Sunday had started renting the flat three months previously and had told him he worked nightshifts.
He said he had recently gone to the one-bedroom flat to check on the state of the kitchen but had been told by his tenant: “Don’t go in there, my girlfriend is in there.”
After being freed Schunck reportedly told Brazilian media she wanted her kidnappers to be jailed so they couldn’t abduct anyone else in Sao Paulo.
Schunck, the mother of Ecclestone’s wife Fabiana Flosi, was taken at knifepoint from her home nine days ago by kidnappers posing as delivery men, according to news reports. A European gang is believed to have been behind the kidnapping; it’s also not the first time criminals have targeted the family of Ecclestone, one of the richest men in the world.
The BBC also reports that a peaceful end to a kidnapping with no ransom being paid is relatively rare in Brazil, a country where kidnapping is a lucrative criminal enterprise.