On the night of July 31, 2016, nine days after the kidnapping, Fabiana’s mother, Aparecida Schunk, was discovered with her captors in a rented flat in Cotia, a low-income western district of São Paulo. Fabiana, instructed by police to remain in Europe, frantically awaited updates, armed policemen from the city’s anti-kidnap division had smashed down a garage door and stormed the building. Aparecida was deeply shaken but otherwise unharmed. Jorge Eurico da Silva Faria, a helicopter pilot who had previously worked for Ecclestone and his wife, was arrested in a nearby flat in the hours afterwards. He was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
“Mum was found in a very small room with only a mattress and one or two blankets,” Fabiana says. “They had wanted to tie her hands. She keeps having flashbacks, and the last time we were in Brazil, she experienced a panic attack. She’s 70 this year, so it’s a big trauma. Doctors warn that her blackouts will continue. She can seem fine, but then she remembers the shock of the moment they took her.”
What has not helped the family are the lurid allegations by Faria about the Ecclestones’ own involvement. Earlier this month, the former pilot used an interview from prison to make outlandish claims that not only had he been framed by police, but that Ecclestone and his wife had been behind the plot.