An astonished mother has told how she spotted her son on a TV news clip six years after he went missing thanks to his distinctive tattoos.
Seamstress Sandra Corato, 59, of Mogi Mirim, south-eastern Brazil, told how her son Julio Cesar Corato vanished on 5th December 2016 and was never heard from again.
His disappearance – a day before his birthday – came in the wake of his divorce, which had left him depressed and unable to cope.
But ever since he disappeared, Sandra has dreamed of being reunited with him.
And now her wish may come true, as she recently spotted him alive in a TV report about rough sleepers in Santos.
A photo from the clip shows a rough sleeper near a beach with distinctive tattoos down his right leg.
She told local media: “We were watching television when the report started. He was lying down and we recognised him because of his tattoos and his appearance.
“People who are mothers are not mistaken.”
After spotting Julio, 38, on TV, the family went to Santos – more than three and a half hours away by car – in the hope of finding him.
They did not manage to locate him but met several of his street friends.
Sandra said: “On television, he was thin, but he wasn’t bearded and hairy.
“When I was there, some people, who knew him, said, ‘He doesn’t look like he does in the photo, if you see him, it will be strange. He’s thinner, bearded and hairy.'”
Julio is the third of five children. Sandra has not given up hope of finding him and hopes to be reunited with him before the New Year.
She said ahead of Christmas Day: “On Sunday my children and grandchildren will all come to my house.
“I have a grandson who is identical to him, just like him. Every time I look at Vinicius it’s like I am seeing him. It’s a burning desire.
“I miss having him close, sitting together, asking him if he loves me. He would always say, ‘Mum, no matter how much time goes by, I’ll always love you, never forget that.'”
Sandra added: “I want to hug him, kiss him, smell him, even if he stinks, on the street, the way he is. The important thing is that I want him to return because he’s my son.”