Leila Schuster, 35, who was Miss Brazil in 1993, got discharged from the hospital today after undergoing microsurgery to reconstruct the tip of three fingers. She had her hand stabbed by robbers who were trying to steal her purse.
The crime occurred Wednesday, January 17, in broad daylight when she was going to a show of the Alessa brand, in Botafogo (south side), which is part of the Fashion Rio, a Brazilian annual celebration of fashion.Â
The former Miss Brazil was accosted by two robbers on a motorcycle when she left her car. They pulled the woman's purse, which got wrapped in her hands. She then was dragged for about 150 feet while the assailants stabbed her hand with a knife or similar object in order for her to let the purse go.
The Fashion Rio organizers released an official note regretting the occurrence. According to them, the location where the crime occurred relies on support of the state of Rio de Janeiro police and should be well protected.
Neil Brazil, a fashion designer who works for Leila told reporters that the former miss had left her car and was walking towards a car dealer where the Alessa show was going to happen when the assailants approached her.
"They pulled her purse and she went together with the purse," said Brazil. "They dragged her 50 meters (150 feet) along the road on the asphalt and, to get rid of the hand that was stuck in the purse, they started to stab her without stop."
Leila was born in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, but has been living in Rio for 12 years. She owns her own clothing company called Miss Schuster, whose designer is Neil Brazil.
"I was very lucky," said Leila. "If the robbers had a gun I certainly would be dead. I'm very sad because this is neither a Rio nor a government problem. This is more profound, it's a social question that will only be changed with education. Not in four years of government, but little by little, with the help of each one of us. It's useless to drive an armored car or have bodyguards. We have to leave home with a prayer in our hearts. I'm not losing my faith."
Despite everything the former miss says that she doesn't intend to leave Rio and that she hopes to soon overcome her trauma. And she added: "I do not wish the robbers' death and I am not mad. But their end is near. I am sure they will be caught. I lament that they are young and that sooner or later they are going to end up in a city's ditch".
The Samaritano Hospital confirmed the reconstruction microsurgery of her right hand's three fingers – index, middle and ring fingers. They also informed that she had serious injury involving her tendons. A hospital official said that it was not clear what kind of object had been used by the robbers to stab her.
According to surgeon Deise Godinho, it is still too early to say if the former miss will have to face serious after effects in the future. She will have her right hand kept in a cast for a month and it might take up to four months before she can move her fingers again.
Eduardo Batista Filho, the chief of the 10th Police Precinct in Botafogo, says that he is starting his investigation based on a report by a policeman who first helped Leila. The police chief visited the model in the hospital, today, before she was discharged, in order to get more information that might help him identify the criminals.