Il Mostro–Looking for a Pattern

I’m having to relearn my Italian– not just the language but the way of thinking– and since I am still doing so this series of articles will go slowly. But I think I am in a position already to caution those who follow here to be careful of what has already been  written in English. It is not necessarily wrong: but it is very brief. As such, the English accounts of Il Mostro di Firenza are often factoids.

During the crime spree, Italians obsessed on the case. Italy had not known a serial killer. Italians don’t do such things. In a land of warm hearts, incredible artistic expression and beauty, Italians simply cannot conceive anyone being bred that is capable of doing what The Monster did, and did for so long.

Finally, even the many tangents of the investigation came to dead ends. New investigators came onto the case and wanted to start all over. They didn’t believe the satanic cult theories, the picnicking companions theory, and even the pista Sarda– the Sardinian Trail, the one theory considered to be the most sober of the lot.

They had the right attitude. It was time to start over.

The Sardinian Trail is a convoluted conspiracy theory in its own right, despite looking bland compared to the others. It is based only by the fact the same .22 caliber Beretta used by Il Mostro (1974-1985) was used to kill the first couple in August 1968. Investigators and later authors (especially in Italian) considered the odd chance that Il Mostro came along and picked up the discarded gun and then started his own crime spree in September 1974. This entire line of thinking was required because Italian police were certain they had apprehended and jailed the murderer of 1968– Stefano Mele, the uno stupido husband of the woman murdered.  It was a crime of revenge– the husband killing his wife and her lover. Italians could understand that.

But the advent of Il Mostro using the same gun required a rethink. Some thought that Il Mostro must have been a shadow at the crime scene– some voyeur pervert already at the scene. He saw it all and then picked up the discarded murder weapon and later started his own crime spree, in total and complete imitation– hot summer nights, couples making love in a car.

At first, when the same Beretta was used on another loving couple in September 1974, no connection seemed to have been made to the 1968 attack. When the same Beretta was used on a couple in 1981, it jogged memories. The cases were put together. And depending on your point of view, the biggest mistake may have already been made– the attempt to connect this serial killer somehow to the family circle of Stefano Mele, the convicted killer in 1968. Since he was in jail in 1974, and now in 1981 a feeble, simple minded man under the care of nuns, he could not be the crafty night ripper Il Mostro.  But someone had access to the same gun and decided to murder couples in the same way. He had to have been a participant in 1968 and inspired to then become Il Mostro years later. This is the standard Sardinian Trail theory anyway.

The shadow theory was inconceivable. It required one to believe that someone totally unconnected to the crime (except as a witness; or came along afterward before the police arrived) picked up the gun and decided to kill couples on hot summer nights in the same manner with an entirely different motive.

The Sardinian Trail was conceived whereby several family members were present and engaged in a gang revenge in 1968. One of them kept the gun and decided to become Il Mostro. This theory at least gave investigators a group to work with through the process of elimination.

Very few wanted to believe that Mele was falsely convicted. This would introduce the worst theory imaginable, even worse than the shadow theory: that Il Mostro had no connections to any circle whatsoever, and that the double murder of Barbara Locci and Antonio Lo Bianco in 1968 was actually his first random murder. If true, then any and every other trail followed thereafter has been a trail that followed a red herring.

I’m not going to recite the standard summary of the 1968 murders. I’m going to recount them on the evidence existing in Italian literature, and note patterns.

August 21, 1968– hot August night

Barbara Locci was cheating on her husband with salesman Antonio Lo Bianco. They had been to the movies with her 6 year old son, Natalino, and then drove to a lovers’ lane in Signa, a small hamlet in the environs of Florence, Italy. While her 6 year old son slept in the backseat, they fooled around in the passenger front seat. Its backrest  was leaned back all the way. She was laying on top of Lo Bianco, when someone silently approached the car, a white Alfa Romero (its windows down), on the driver’s side and fired a .22 Beretta pistol through the front window.Antonio_Lo_Bianco

The killer shot Lo Bianco first– three times on the left side. Locci bolted up and turned to the passenger side door to escape. She was then shot 4 times. Was the killer surprised at this time to discover there was a 6 year old child in the backseat, now awake? Natalino had no real memories except waking to see his mother’s dead face.

The evidence is confused. We don’t really know when Natalino left the car. He was later found down the road at the doorstep of a farmer’s house.

But the scene within the white Alfa Romero was a curious one. When Barbara_Loccidiscovered by police, the right turn blinker was found engaged. Locci was dressed and seated in the driver’s seat, head leaned to the left. Lo Bianco was dressed and still reclined in the passenger seat. A gold chain had been removed from her neck, but there was no other sign of theft. Locci’s purse was open. There was 24,000 lire inside. Her shoes were under the seat.

When the killer shifted her body into the driver’s seat, it must have hit the turn signal down– which would start the right blinker.

The police deduced it was a crime of passion. Her husband Stefano Mele was charged. He denied it and blamed other lovers.  No one believed him. He went to jail.

Case closed, so it would seem.

September 14, 1974

19 year old Pasquale Gentilcore and his 18 year old girlfriend Stefania Pettini are necking on a dirt road in a field in Rabatta, near Borgo San Lorenzo, hamlets on the northwest of Florence. The next morning one of two farmers find a grisly scene. Stefania is spread eagle behind the blue Fiat, mostly nude. She is mutilated with over 90 shallow knife marks and the branch of a grape vine is found inserted into her reproductive area. In the driver’s seat is found her boyfriend, shot to death.Pasquale_Gentilcore_e_Stefania_Pettini

The police forensic investigation is intense. From our vantage point, it uncovers a disturbing chain of events. The Fiat’s passenger seat backrest it down. Gentilcore was shot 3 times in the back, from the left (top) of the shoulder going in an arc to the right. He had been shot in the heart and lung. Pettini had been shot in the right arm, abdomen, and right leg.

From the .22 shell cases, it was easy to rework the scene. The two were making love in the reclined passenger side seat. Gentilecore’s back was mostly to the driver’s side. Pettini’s back was to the passenger side. The killer approached from the driver’s side and shot through the driver’s side window, shattering the glass and hitting Gentilcore in the back first and then Pettini on the right side and abdomen as she recoiled in surprise.

The killer walked around and removed Pettini from the passenger side door (which he left open), drug her behind the car, and mutilated her.

4052795_2305_omicidio2

The most curious act is that the killer positioned Gentilcore in the driver’s side seat. He was found sitting (wearing only underwear), with his hands clasped under his left thigh. (According to crime scene photos, his hands were not clasped under his left thigh; though I do not know if by this time his body had been moved.) Why? Having opened the passenger side door, the killer could easily remove Pettini without having greatly disturbed Gentilcore’s body.  Why bother to put him back in the driver’s seat?

The above circumstances are highly suggestive of the 1968 double murder. Locci and Lo Bianco had been repositioned, with Locci set back (not too believably) in the driver’s seat. The killer shot the man first at both crimes. Money wasn’t stolen here either. The difference was that Locci wasn’t removed from the car and mutilated. But then, here with Pettini there wasn’t a 6 year old kid in the backset to take the killer by surprise.

There is much more evidence at the crime scene, but right now we are concerned with the comparative evidence suggesting the killer’s detailed actions and whether the sequence of events suggest a pattern. Just above, it does suggest that the killer of Locci and Lo Bianco was one and the same with the killer of Gentilcore and Pettini. The police didn’t think of the 1968 murders at this time, probably because they weren’t on the books as unsolved. But in 1981 the mutilations were so gross that the 1974 case popped to mind, and with this the police looked further back in time. The same .22 Beretta was found to have been used at all three of the double murders.

There is another pattern. Locci and Lo Bianco had gone to the movies just before they went to the lovers’ lane. Pettini and Gentilcore had been at Teen Club, a disco.  The first 1981 victims had also been at a disco– Club Anastasia. Of future victims, one couple would also last be seen at the movies.

The pattern indicates that the killer stationed himself at hangouts used by young couples– movie houses, discos– and followed likely couples to lovers’ lanes. He wasn’t staking out lovers’ lanes on the random chance a perfect couple would come along. The difference with the 1968 killings, if they are related, is that the killer may not have noticed they had a 6 year old kid with them in the backseat.

The 1968 murders also happened on a Wednesday night. Most of those following would be on a moonless Saturday, Sunday or Friday night. All will be in Summer of early Fall.

We will get to the next victims in future posts.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress. 

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Il Mostro di Firenza– Dietrologia

Very little of what has been written in Italian about the Monster of Florence has found its way into English. Il Mostro– obviously Italian for “monster”– is probably the No 1 serial killer in history. Sixteen victims are dead, killed in carefully calculated murder, then mutilation (for most female victims). The circumstances argue that he was a very, very relentless predator. He violated the heart of the Renaissance, the lovers’ lanes in the “sweet hills of Florence,”  for 11 perhaps 17 years.

The Monster of Florence isn’t the No 1 serial killer in world history because his pursuers were the Anglo-American stereotype of the rivalrous and stumbling Italian police. Italian investigations are quite the contrary. Those unfamiliar with the Italian attitude of dietrologia dismiss Italian investigations as rubber hose stuff– where thuggish cops threaten to beat suspects. This is far from the truth. The world doesn’t understand how Italians obsess on details, rooted in Greco-Roman philosophic codes. But Il Mostro seems to have known this, taking many extra precautions. It is also true that Italians will arrest most anybody on the slightest suspicion. The upshot is that just to have success in Italy– i.e. not get caught– Il Mostro had to be one of the most premeditative and careful serial killers in history.

8 luoghi degli delitti

The places of the crime, all grouped around Florence.

But the greatest factor in the Monster’s favor in Italy was a simple fact: Italy had never dealt with a serial killer before.

Italy is a country where family is everything, where the sons are usually spoiled by their mothers. It is not a culture that breeds serial killers, and Italians really didn’t know how to react to such a macabre murderer as the Mostro would prove to be. Crimes of passion occur in Italy. Those are understandable. But a thrill killer killing just for his own twisted thrill wasn’t comprehensible. This happens in England, America, and a few of the Germanic countries. Not in Italy.

Examination of the details and reenactments of these crimes by the Italian police are impressive, but preservation of the larger crime scene wasn’t always so good. There is little evidence of footprints indicating Il Mostro’s weight, measurements indicating his stride (and thus possibly his height), but the evidence and clues in the immediate crime scene are preserved and logically put together according to ancient Greco-Roman efficiency.

What bogged down the Italian investigation was not an inability at crime scene investigation and reenactment.  It was theorizing. The hypotheses constructed in all cases by all factions, and I am referring to officialdom, would strike the Anglo-American world as elaborate conspiracy theories. For those non Italian readers who have followed the case, you only have a smattering of the extrapolations that back all the theories. But each is woven somewhat carefully. Whether you believe in the theory of the “picnicking companions” (compagne di merende) or the pista Sarda (Sardinian Trail), each is a detailed theory of multiple actors who maintain omerta. This is something Italians can believe. A bond is a bond. Name an Italian traitor!?

Americans tend to reject such “conspiracy theories”  outright, but they really aren’t conspiracy theories. Some of you have read about dietrologia– Italian for study of what’s “behind” it all. For many reasons Italians do not believe in a simple façade. For the Anglo-American world, if it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. For Italians, if is looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is probably a pheasant.

One of the principle reasons why Italian’s have dietrologia as a national character can be found in the history of Italy. Some prince or don was always engaging in some deception in order to win a city. Long before the Renaissance, Italians have suspected sudden deaths to be caused by poisoning. If it looks like suicide, it is probably murder.

Another reason Italians don’t believe in a simple façade is, well, because of something most of them have practiced. In Italy the children do not leave home until they marry, and many Italians marry late. The virile years in such a passionate country have inspired young Italians (giovani) to come up with many excuses for meeting with their lovers. In the modern world it usually ends up with a nice time in a parked car in the countryside. I’ve heard figures ranging as high as 1 out of 9 Italians are conceived in the backseat of a car. From youth, Italians become adroit with cover stories, and cover stories are just something that Italians assume are a part of life.

Therefore Italians tend to overthink, not underthink.

Italians are also obsessed with honor. If you insult an Italian in private, a magnanimous one might even thank you (if it is true). But insult one in public, and he’s going to get even. The various elements of the Mostro investigation disagreed and criticized each other too many times.  Faccia was damaged!

This is nothing new. When Savonarola condemned Rodrigo Borgia as an abomination, dear Rodrigo (Pope Alexander VI) got even. He had him flayed over the fire in Florence. I don’t have a problem with that. Italians don’t like it implied that they act with an insincere motive.

Italians live everywhere. Not just in their house. The city itself is the Italian living room. Life is everywhere in a city– it is dotted with impressive works of art. Accomplishments are everywhere displayed: murals, fountains, statues, family names, inscriptions. To impugn faccia= it is more than an insult.

piazza

Florence and a piazza. 

Rome was once dotted with 1,000 war towers from which the warring families shot at each other’s palaces and defended their own. The cannons lining the ramparts of the Vatican had been condemned as the scandal of the Christian world.

This mentality, well, it is still with us. It even affects staid members of the judiciary. They fought bitterly over theories and their line of investigation into who was Il Mostro. Each was going to outdo the others.

Then add dietrologia. Again, Italians don’t underthink. They often overthink. As I pointed out, all theories surrounding Il Mostro di Firenza are elaborate and involve in each theory multiple accomplices. It looked like one maniac, so that seems to be impossible. It’s got to be a gang. When the FBI gratuitously did a psychological profile for Florentine police, none seemed to believe it. It was put at the bottom of a stack of papers. From the American perspective, Il Mostro was a loner.  But to Italians that didn’t make sense. Many didn’t even want to believe he was Italian. He must be a foreigner from one of those countries where they have more than enough of these type of losers.

Whatever Il Mostro’s national background, he knew the area of Florence and, furthermore, he knew he was dealing with Italian culture at every level.

Because of Italian tradition, lovers lanes and parking spots dot the hillsides– the Sweet Hills of Florence. The result is a network of pent up peeping toms who stake out areas and watch with high-powered scopes– even using cameras, I’m told. Yet Il Mostro was never seen.

On moonless nights he quietly approached his intended victims and opened fire, then stabbed the male victim about the neck to make sure he was dead, yanked the female victim out and mutilated her in an open area. It was ghastly carnage. Il Mostro wasn’t compulsive, at least by modern usage of the word. He was like the anti-werewolf. It was a moonless night that drove him wild. When there was no moon on a Saturday night, he went out and found his victims.Moody-fri

But wild like a wolf he really didn’t seem to be. He carefully selected his locations. He avoided the Indiani– the peeping toms. He knew many, many, lovers’ lanes around Florence. He used the same Beretta .22 caliber pistol and ammo from the same old 2 boxes he had from wherever. He used the same knife, which seemed to have been a scuba knife. There is a boot print that may be his. Considering he has 14 to 16 victims, little evidence is quite an evil accomplishment.

I tend to think Il Mostro knew his crimes would be masked by the Italian attitude of dietrologia. Perhaps some of his modus operandi caters to that cultural attitude.  He waited for moonless Saturday nights, after all, always in Summer or early Fall. Perhaps this was to avoid the Indiani. But also wouldn’t a devil cult require such precision? He cut out the female reproductive area with a sharp knife, and he knew what he was doing. Three concise cuts were used to excise the organ. This too sounds like a cult ritual, and many Italians, including judicial investigators, believed that a cult of more than one man was responsible. But all felt, whether it was one jacket job or many, he was a gynecologists, doctor, or some strange nobleman. He was too sophisticated to be some peasant perv. Italians wouldn’t believe that. There had to be a mastermind.

In truth, Italy and especially Florentines reacted no different than London and eventually England reacted to Jack the Ripper. It is a nation’s reaction to their first serial killer. Red Jack really wasn’t England’s first, but his method gave him such news coverage that for all intents and purposes he was England’s first publicized serial killer. No one wanted to believe he was an Englishman. He had some ulterior motive. He was a part of some greater conspiracy.

All these suspicions and theories surround The Monster of Florence. He was NIGHT RIPPER– Giacomo Il Ripper.

The difference between Jack and Il Mostro, of course, is that the Monster could very well still be with us, an individual carefully concealed from public suspicion because of all the elaborate theories that have evolved.

The first killing occurred on a hot August night in 1968. Those who endorse the Pista Sarda believe Il Mostro was only a shadow at this crime and the real culprit– the simple-minded husband– did it. The reason, of course, to justify this theory is that the same Beretta used in that double murder is the one used in all the subsequent Il Mostro murders. But the husband was in jail during the Mostro murders or then a feeble man taken care of by nuns. So he couldn’t have become the Monster. Somebody else had to get the gun and, curiously, commit crimes that mimicked this murder of revenge on an unfaithful wife and her lover.

Officially, the Mostro omicidi (homicides) begin on a moonless Saturday night in 1974. Then there is a long break, and they take up again in 1981, with 2 pairs dying that year, on moonless Saturday and Friday nights. Then another couple is murdered in 1982– and you can guess the day of the week and a moonless night. Another couple in 1983, another in 1984, and the last in 1985. 14 victims. 16 if you count the 1968 couple.

And this in Italy, a country of family, eloquent passion, and superb artistic expression. It has never been repeated. Anywhere. 16 couples murdered in cars while necking. No survivors. No mistakes. That’s a hell of a record for a serial killer in a country that doesn’t breed serial killers. It breeds dietrologia. And the Monster carefully overthought his crimes in order to elude his pursuers.

We, too, will pursue Il Mostro with dietrologia in following posts. We will, of course, start in 1968.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress. 

 

The Trial of JJ DeAngelo

My blog has been rather quiet here. I have deleted most of the cold case information since EAR-ONS is largely old cabbage now. However, you may be interested in my last major article on the case, as presented on The Quester Files, my website.

The Trial of JJ DeAngelo and The East Area Rapist

The article is quite long (over 12,000 words) and it organizes (as much as I could in the medium) the evidence for more than one perpetrator in the East Area Rapist and Visalia Ransacker crimes. It is evidence a trial must face.

As far as my Zodiac Killer investigation, you know if you have been following the updates of the snippets of hand writing from “Steve” that the printing matches ZODIAC and I have expressed my certainty that ZODIAC is now identified. Behind the scenes, how all this goes through the system, well, that is another matter from which I have at present excused myself.

But perhaps a look at my Quester Files Update page might be in order.

As I delve deeper into some X Files topics, I recede from posting on my blog. Sorry about that, but these subjects I really don’t present until my investigation is finished and my thesis is written.

More cold cases are pending– The Monster of Florence really needs a good work up. It is not represented well on the web, though a couple of books have done a fairly admirable job of bringing us the details. But analysis needs to be done in order to direct us to a satisfactory answer. We cannot just tick-tock between theories of a fat old Tuscan peasant and the Sardinian Trail.

My next blog post will be on the Il Mostro.

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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.