Posted: 5:16 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, 2013

Search crews express sadness over missing man's death

Paulo Netto
Ana Reis/
Paulo Netto

By David Stevenson


San Francisco's Medical Examiner confirmed Friday that the body found floating in the water near McCovey Cove six weeks ago is that of 23-year-old Paulo Netto, a visiting Brazilian art student. He disappeared in the city's Mission District October 28th, after a panicked call to his sister in which he said he was being followed and told her to call the police.

Kevin Viliano, a friend of Netto, described to KTVU the call he received that same night. "He said, 'Kevin, please help me, please help me.' [I said] If you're in trouble, call the police, they're the best people who will help you. He's like, 'oh, oh, oh." Then he hanged up."

The Medical Examiner's Office did not release the cause of Netto's death. At the time the body was found, the M.E.'s Office told police that the death did not appear to be suspicious. "If it's a homicide, we'll initiate a homicide investigation," said San Francisco Police Department Spokesman Officer Albie Esparza "If it's otherwise, then it stays as the medical examiner's case."

A big question for police is the identity of the man in a surveillance camera picture whom police believe used Netto's credit card at a Mission District McDonald's a few days after he disappeared.

Netto's family came to San Francisco soon after his disappearance, distributing fliers and seeking tips from the public. Workers at the Consulate General of Brazil in San Francisco, which helped spread word of Netto's disappearance, expressed their sadness upon hearing the news Friday.

Castro Community on Patrol also helped search for Netto and told KTVU it will print new fliers, seeking tips about Netto's whereabouts during his final hours.

"It's sad," said Castro Community on Patrol Chairman Greg Carey. When there was first the notice that a body had been found in the Bay, I had kind of a bad feeling about that."

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