Italy is one of the scenic countries in the world. People immediately think of stylish street fashion, fine wine, beautiful beaches, and equally beautiful people. Murder is probably the last thing you’d associate the popular tourist destination with.
But like every picturesque location, behind the stunning tourist spots there lie dark secrets that everyone chose to hide. For Italy, it was Mostro di Firenze or known throughout the world as the Monster of Florence, a serial killer who terrorized the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region from 1968 to 1985.
Lone Serial Killer or Crime Syndicate: The Mystery Behind the Infamous ‘Monster of Florence’
The Monster of Florence was the name given to an unidentified serial killer who was thought to be behind the murders of 16 people, including seven young couples in the Florentine countryside. His method of killing was consistent in all occasions. He would sneak up on couples making out in public areas and then shoot them point blank.
The killer apparently had weapons of choice, a Beretta .22 caliber pistol loaded with Winchester series H bullets and a knife to carve out his victims. This discovery led police to believe that the crimes were committed by a single person. The manner of which the killer left his victims raised eyebrows as well. He would viciously mutilate his female victims, and on one occasion, he sent their sexual organs to authorities with the intention to taunt them.
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The dates of the crimes and the most notable victims
Oddly enough, the Monster of Florence took long breaks in between his killing spree. Sometimes it would take a whole year and in one instance, 7 years, before he killed again.
- August 21, 1968. Victims: Antonio Lo Bianco, 29, mason worker, an immigrant from Sicily, and his lover, Barbara Locci , 32, homemaker
- September 14, 1974. Victims: Pasquale Gentilcore, 19, barman, and Stefania Pettini, 18, accountant. They were teenage sweethearts.
- June 6, 1981. Engaged couple Giovanni Foggi, 30, warehouseman, and Carmela Di Nuccio, 21, shop assistant
- September 9, 1983. German gay couple Wilhelm Friedrich Horst Meyer, 24, and Jens Uwe Rüsch, 24
- July 29, 1984. Couple Claudio Stefanacci, 21, law student, and Pia Gilda Rontini, 18, barmaid and cheerleader
- September 8 1985. Jean Michel Kraveichvili, 25, and Nadine Mauriot, 36. Both were tourists from Audincourt, France.
A hidden fetish
Like most serial killers, the Monster of Florence was profiled by investigators through his method of killing and stalking his victims. He would wait until the couple would park their cars, preferably in the isolated countrysides at night.
As the couple starts to get intimate, the killer uses this opportunity to pounce. He shoots the victims and finishes off his monstrous deed by disfiguring the female victim’s body with a knife. For the case of the German couple, the killer likely mistook Rüsch for a female because of his small head and long blond hair.
All the crimes took place on New Moon nights and on evenings when there weren’t work the next day. The attacks were almost never on the same perimeter, which prevented investigators from narrowing the killer’s exact whereabouts.
The first arrest
The first female victim, Barbara Locci, was the wife of Stefano Mele, an older man that many considered as mentally slow. Locci was known for her many affairs and Antonio Lo Bianco was just one of them. It was thought that Mele was fed up with her attitude that he decided to put an end to her life. Police later arrested him despite not locating the murder weapon, and he spent the next couple of years behind bars.
Nearly six years later, the police received a letter with a newspaper clipping that dated back to the summer of 1968. Above the article were the words “Why don’t you take another look at this case?” It was then that the police noticed that this was the exact crime that Stefano Mele was convicted of.
The shells of the bullets recovered from the incident were still attached to the archive, and ballistics tests would later prove that this came from the same gun model terrorizing the Florence countryside for years. But if the supposed perpetrator was sitting behind bars, then who could be committing these crimes with the same gun?
A more sinister letter from the killer
At this point, the details of the murder had the local police scratching their heads. But before they could even come close to solving the case, another envelope was sent over to authorities. The address was written with letters cut out of a magazine. It spelled the word Repubblica, but with only one B. This led investigators to believe that the killer was either a foreigner or an uneducated person who did not know how to spell a common Italian word.
The envelope contained no letter nor a newspaper clipping for the police to decipher. Instead, they were faced with a monstrous sight: Nadine Mauriot’s breast. Mauriot and her young lover were the last victims of the the Monster of Florence, who were killed on September 8, 1985.
The picture above was said to be the mugshot of the Monster of Florence. His physical description was based on the accounts of several witnesses. One witness claimed to have seen the bald, old man after the 1981 murder of Giovanni Foggi and Carmela Di Nuccio.
But despite sending out the photo to the public, the actual identity of the killer was never known. Overall, there were four local men acquitted (and later exonerated) for the killings, including Mele, Pietro Pacciano, Mario Vanni, and Giancarlo Lotti.
The wrongful arrests of these men have been heavily criticized and ridiculed, with most critics suggesting that the real killer or killers have never been identified. Others have come up with their own conclusion, suggesting that the crimes were committed by a Satanic cult that operated in Florence during this time. However, there was no solid proof to back up these claims.
Despite the efforts of Italian authorities and the participation of expert investigators, criminologists, psychologists, and sociologists from all over the world, the Monster of Florence remains a mystery to this day.