When Elize Matsunaga met wealthy husband Marcos, friends likened her story to Cinderella turning into a princess.
Raised by her grandparents in a poor home in the Brazilian state of Parana, the young woman met her businessman husband while working as an escort – and pals thought she’d hit the jackpot.
The fairy tale, however, would soon turn into a nightmare. In 2012, body parts belonging to Marcos were found scattered along the side of a road outside Sao Paulo.
The company director had been shot in the head, and while Elize initially denied any involvement, she eventually confessed to the grisly murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
Now, a new Netflix documentary series, Elize Matsunaga: Once Upon A Crime, delves into the gruesome case which shocked Brazil, featuring the first interview with the killer since she was jailed.
Claiming she was cheated on, threatened and physically abused by her husband, Elize chillingly tells the cameras: “I still don’t know how to explain what kind of emotion made me pull that trigger.”
Former escort’s life of luxury marred by husband’s affairs
Heir to the food company Yoki, Marcos met Elize while he was still married to his first wife – embarking on an affair after seeing her advertised on an escort website as blonde bombshell ‘Kelly’.
The pair lived together as lovers for three years before he got divorced, according to the Brazilian magazine Piaui, living in his eccentric home filled with hunt conquests and his pet boa constrictor, Gigi.
Yet after they married, Elize claims their idyllic life was shattered when she discovered messages between Marcos and a girlfriend.
She says he decided to break up with her, before finding out she was pregnant.
“When I broke the news, he cried, apologising to me. He knelt down, apologised and said he would never do that again, ” Elize says in the documentary, UOL Splash reports.
Following the birth of their daughter, Helena, Marcos reportedly grew tired of his wife’s moods, claiming she was lucky to have a maid and nanny at her service.
Suspecting her was cheating again, Elize hired a private detective to follow her husband, who caught him at a local restaurant with another lover.
This time, she says she decided to break up with him, but was told she wouldn’t be able to find anyone else.
“Do you think someone of your reputation would find a prince attractive?” she claims Marcos replied.
“I know the man. You can only find one to eat your b *****.”
Elize claims Marcos threatened to take her daughter away – whom she was afraid she would never see again – before turning violent.
“I remember he slapped me in the face and he hadn’t done that yet. He denied it to the extreme and put me in a guilty situation. Am I really going crazy?” she says.
Tycoon shot in head and cut into seven parts
On May 19, 2012, Elize was picked up by Marcos after spending three days with Helena visiting her ailing grandmother in her small hometown of Chopinzinho.
Security footage from the couple’s Sao Paulo apartment shows the three arriving alongside their nanny, with Marcos in a bad mood, kicking the elevator as he went to pick up a pizza.
The next video caught on camera shows Elize emerging the following morning with three suitcases – containing the remains of her husband.
While mystery remains over what happened that evening, it was established that she used one of the guns stashed inside their home to protect against kidnappers, killing Marcos by shooting him in the head.
Elize later admitted she took the body into the guest room and cut it into seven parts – including his arms and head.
Stuffing the bloody remains into separate garbage bags, she then put them into three suitcases and cleaned up the mess with disinfectant.
The suitcases were dotted across the roadside around 20 miles outside Sao Paulo – though some body parts have never been found.
Wife tried to claim husband ran off with mistress
When Marcos’ family began to worry about his disappearance, Elize told them he had fled with a bag of clothes and cash.
She claimed he had run off with his lover, showing them a video filmed by her private detective that captured him kissing another woman.
Nine days after the murder, however, Marcos’ head was discovered in a suitcase, and as further body parts were found, his family were able to identify the dismembered corpse.
Elize was arrested on June 4 after phone records placed her at the location the grisly remains were found.
During the high-profile court case, which became a national scandal across Brazil, Marcos’ infidelity was uncovered and Elize told her version of events.
But the prosecution argued it was a case of premeditated murder and that Elize had shot her husband without any warning. Autopsy reports are also said to have recorded that his throat was slit while he was still alive.
Pleading guilty to the murder of her husband and the concealment of a corpse, she was sentenced to 19 years in prison.
The trial was considered one of the most high-profile in Sao Paulo’s history – beginning on November 28 and drawing to a close on December 5, 2016.
Eliza Capai, the director of the new documentary, says he felt a “great responsibility” to explore the shocking case in more detail.
He adds: “Not only for Marcos’ family and friends who suffered with this tragedy, but also for Elize’s family, people who knew nothing about it, but who also suffer the consequences until this day.”
Elize Matsunaga: Once Upon a Crime is out now on Netflix.