Il Mostro di Firenza– Primo e Terzo

It is the third and it is the first. The savage double murder of Carmela de Nuccio and Giovanni Foggi on the night of June 6/7, 1981, gained national news in Italy. It seemed the first of such a gross, brutal murder . . .and yet it reminded local Florentine police of the murder of a young, petting couple back in 1974.

In both cases, in the dark of night, the killer had walked up to a romancing couple in a car. In both cases, he stood by the driver’s side window and opened fire with a .22 caliber pistol, taking them by surprise. He killed the man right away and then shot the woman a number of times before dragging her dead body from the car to mutilate it.

In the 1974 case, the young man, Pasquale, was found dead in the driver’s seat, only partially dressed. His girlfriend, Stefania, had been shot and stabbed and then drug behind the vehicle where the killer had inserted a vine branch into her reproductive area.  He mutilated her in other ways, about 97 minor piercings. Obviously, it was not the usual revenge murder or killing of passion. Giovanni_Foggi_e_Carmela_De_Nuccio

The Foggi and Nuccio murders were essentially the same. Like Pasquale, Giovanni was found in the driver’s seat, shot through the head and chest and then stabbed for good measure. The killer had probably taken them unaware, like he had the couple in 1974. He shot through the closed driver’s side window and hit Giovanni twice in the temple. Carmela had raised her arms in defense and had been shot 5 times, the one to her heart killing her.

In 1974, Stefania’s groin had been violated with a vine branch. But in 1981 Nuccio’s entire groin had been expertly cut out. Her dead body had been dragged from where she had been shot in the passenger side of Foggi’s car. Her jeans had been lowered and her underwear cut away. Then the killer removed the entire reproductive area.

There wasn’t much difference here from the 1974 murders other than a fiendish, perverted progress in the mutilation of the dead female victim.

The location of Foggi and Nuccio’s murder was similar to the 1974 murders. It was a lovers’ lane area accessed by a dirt road from the main road. It was under a lone cypress on the edge of an old Tuscan olive orchard. It was a bit of a distance from the main road, but it was easily reached by the access road which lead to another trodden path.  It is where these paths met that Giovanni had pulled off and then under the cypress.

Florence2

The olive orchards rose, crested and sank into clefts as if the rolling hills were sea waves. They overlooked Florence. In the distance was Il Duomo and the Renaissance tiled roofs of old Florence. Villas and a castle dotted the historic countryside.

The bullets which riddled both of the couples could be tested. In both cases, the same Winchester .22 caliber bullets had been used and fired from the same berretta pistol.

More research would uncover this same berretta had been used back in August 1968 on another couple, also at a lovers’ lane. But by the summer of 1981 those murders had been forgotten. The murder in 1968 was 13 years old; the murders in 1974 about 7 years old. They had been spaced over 6 years, and police believed they had captured the culprit in the first double murder in 1968. The second double murder in 1974 was considered unsolved. Obviously, the police in 1974 hadn’t bothered to check and see that the same gun had been used as in 1968.

But the murders of Nuccio and Foggi were so horrific that Florentine police did a very good background check.  Thus in a very real way, Giovanni and Carmela’s  murders were both the first and the third. They drew attention to a fact Italy had not confronted before– a serial killer was stalking the Tuscan hills. Giovanni and Carmela’s murders also launched this killer into an increasingly gross and far more frequent crime spree. Some metamorphosis happened here that made this killing the first of a series.

Il Mostro was born– the Monster of Florence. The killer knew lovers’ lanes or he followed his intended victims. The first couple– Locci and Lo Bianco had been to the movies before they went to their petting spot. Pasquale and Stefania had been at a local disco, and so had Giovanni and Carmela.

The killer wasn’t developing his MO. But he was developing his signature.

Florence was the center. From the Foggi and Nuccio murder scene there was a classic view of Florence.  To the northeast was the Borgo where the 1974 couple had been murdered. To the north was Signa, where Locci and Lo Bianco had been murdered 13 years before. It was a wide swath of Tuscan hillsides, all centered on Florence.

The investigation was still in its infancy when the next murders happened in October 1981 to the north of Florence. The killer had waited almost 7 years since the 1974 killings, but now he had waited only a few months since the Foggi and De Nuccio.

True theorizing would begin after this double murder in October. No one could deny a barbaric serial killer was afoot. He was in action in a country that had not known serial killers before, and he was active in a wide countryside area around one of the most cultured cities in the country.

* * *
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–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.

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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.

* * *
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. 

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.

* * *
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. 

 

PHANTOM DNA– Worth Seeking

Genealogical DNA tracing is quite the rage, of course, for uncovering the guilty party through his kin. But there are crimes far back in history where there is no DNA– lovers’ lanes murders, for instance. There is little reason to suspect that there will be a solution (via DNA) to the Atlanta Lovers’ Lanes murders and several others where the killer merely shot his victims and escaped.

If the crime scene material was better preserved, however, from the Phantom of Texarkana Murders, there is a good chance that a skilled technician could lift touch DNA. A couple of his murders were particularly gruesome, and I should imagine he did some touching.

But to read what has been written on the Phantom investigation there is little reason to imagine the crime scene material was preserved, let alone pristine.

But . . .

Some studious criminalist/archivist in Texarkana perhaps should consider a search.

If the dresses of a couple of the female victims were preserved, there may be touch DNA when he carried their bodies or yanked them by the arm. It would be a great challenge, but one of the greatest discoveries in cold case.

I am eager to visit the area for the bulldog approach. Yet with a crime case like that, at present anyway, another book can only end with an accusation. Perhaps a publisher might put “SOLVED” on the cover, but we all know it is merely another accusation inside. Morris-today

Theory is easy. And too many so-called “solved” books have only given us another theory (on whatever case). If it is a sincere effort, there is, of course, nothing wrong with introducing ideas. But the marketing of today’s book covers is more or less clickbait.

bettyj

Closer to our time, there is the I-70 Killer. If the I-35 Killer and he are one and the same, the last victim survived. He touched her. It’s worth a try there, from her shirt, or wherever they are certain she was touched. At least we have a face in this case, unlike with the aptly named Phantom.

It is unquestionable that the murderer of Winans and Williams touched them. These two were murdered in the Shenandoah in May 1996. They are often associated with the Colonial Parkway murders, though there may be no connection. They are associated because of the similarity (in some respects) to the first pair of murders there– Thomas and Dowski– in 1986.

Now, as to the double murder of Lauer and Phelps, also Colonial Parkway murders, the killer certainly drove their car and sat in it. But how well was it preserved?

There is naturally the Long Island Serial Killer. Much of the evidence was not in a condition to yield DNA, but behind-the-scenes we do not know all the evidence.

Effort I can imagine will be directed at those cases where there is a chance the killer is still alive and therefore represents a potential danger to society. So this would mean cases from the 1980s to today.

The most potent danger in the older cases like the Phantom or the Torso Killer murders is that there is little written on them and there is usually only one suspect proffered. Usually, this is because by the police methods of the time he was the main suspect, often for some reason that wouldn’t impress a detective or criminalist today.

At the very least these type of cases need more investigating and fresh approaches. They are the ones that need books where more suspects are introduced.

* * *
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 Texas I-35 Killer

There is so little out there on the I-35 victims that there isn’t much one can say about them, but paradoxically they may be able to speak much in terms of outing the I-70 Killer. And I think if the victims in Texas could speak, that’s what they’d want to say. Unfortunately, they haven’t been given much of a chance since the details are so sparse. We can only detect a general pattern.

After his May 7, 1992, attack in Raytown, Missouri, on the outskirts of Kansas City, MO, the I-70 Killer quit. He quit as suddenly as he had started. During his crime spree, a genuine spree killing lasting only a month, he hadn’t varied his MO much. He obviously wanted to kill women, and for him the most convenient places were small shops and the most convenient times were off hours.

I-70 victims

He prepared himself enough to get away with it. He had watched the shops enough from across the street or knew already that a young woman managed the store. He rubbed his .22 cartridges with jeweler’s rouge to make sure there was no problem with the automatic jamming. This is a little excessive for his MO. He just planned to shoot an unarmed woman in the back of the head. But perhaps this tells us he was ready for a shootout with the police if he should get cornered. Considering his month long spree, he seemed like a homicidal maniac on the loose, so the idea of being ready to go out in a blaze isn’t farfetched.

I think it is fair to say he wasn’t the mumbling transient, even if he might have used that image as a cover.

But he stopped, stopped cold. One month– April 8 to May 7, 1992– he burned hot, killed 6 people, and then was no more.

A year went by. Nothing. Not even in other parts of the country. Summer 1993 then passed. Then . . .

On September 25, 1993, 51-year old Mary Glassock was found dead in her small antique shop at 4708 Bryce in Fort Worth, Texas. She had been shot in the head with a .22 caliber. Naturally, it wasn’t long before a comparison was made: it wasn’t the same .22 as the I-70 Killer had used. . . but . . .

Glassock-large

A lot else fit the I-70 Killer MO. Glassock’s  antique store was a small shop and it wasn’t far from the highway. In this case, the highway was the I-30, a tributary of the main highway I-35. And I-35 was the main highway south from the St. Louis and I-70 area. It went through Wichita, Kansas, where the I-70 Killer had taken his 2nd and 3rd victim, so it was a highway that the I-70 Killer worked right away. (Then he kibitzed back and forth in between his first strike point in Indianapolis and Wichita.) Nothing indicated that there were similar murders in Oklahoma City, the only other main city on the I-35 south, suggesting the same killer was moving south and following the highway. But after Oklahoma, Fort Worth was the next major city.

Fort Worth is just west of Dallas and, of course, on the I-35.

In addition, Glassock’s shop was on a main road off the highway. Her age at 51 made her an outlier in terms of the I-70 Killer’s victim, but he had also made a mistake and shot a man with a pony tail in the back of the head. He could have made a mistake about age in Fort Worth, or age simply meant nothing to him after all. Also, who robs an antique store in an older part of town while simply driving through? Except for the age of the victim and the fact it was a different .22 caliber, the pattern was the I-70 Killer.

Yet it was one murder in a shop. Unfortunately, those happen and it doesn’t mean a serial killer is afoot. However. . .

Nearby in Arlington, Texas, it happened again. This time everything fit the I-70 MO. The location was off Highway 20, the next major cross highway along the I-35 south of Fort Worth. The killer was obviously moving along the I-35 going south. The victim  was a young brunette, Amy Vess. She was working in a dance apparel store at 4001 West Green Oaks. It’s in a shopping center near the main road from the highway. The date was November 1 (gravestone says death on November 2), 1993.

Amy Vess

The pattern wasn’t reflecting the month long spree like back in April 1992, but it seemed either the I-70 Killer had started again, without the same urgency, or another creep was hitting the Fort Worth area and basically doing the same thing, just not all in one month in fairly rapid succession.

The rest of November and December would pass without another murder. But in January 1994 it happened again, further south in Houston. This meant the creep had followed the I-35 highway to San Antonio and then went west to Houston. Texas realized they now had the “I-35 Killer.”

He made a significant mistake in Houston, and we will come to that case in our next post.

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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.

END of ACT ONE– The I-70 Killer

By early May, St. Charles police, Wichita police, Indianapolis and Terre Haute police– police from 3 states– knew they had a homicidal maniac going back and forth on the I-70. This creep liked to kill women, relatively young, with long brunette hair. He used a high capacity .22 caliber pistol. He rubbed the cartridges with jeweler’s rouge to make sure the bullets didn’t jam. The guy was calm and cool obviously. How did he stalk these places and remain essentially nondescript? 4f972048ccab6.image

There was one report– a store owner in Indianapolis had noted there was some homeless guy wandering around the area of the crime scene, sometimes hours before. He would be mumbling to himself, like so many of that hapless variety. However, it was hard to believe that some killer with a highly polished .22 automatic pistol and the ability to drive long distances was some druggie idly stumbling about businesses.

It was May 7, 1992. A man in his 30s, average height, average build, everything average, was mumbling to himself as he ambled about the Woodson Village shopping center in Raytown, Missouri, a small town on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri, near the Kansas border.

Mumbling to himself, this figure peered into the window of the Video Attic– the clerk thought this was just another bum.

Next store, in the Store of Many Colors, Sarah Blessing continued her work. It was late now, close to 6:30 p.m. We don’t know the before-the-fact details much. But the clerk next door heard a “pop.” It wasn’t long until Sarah was found dead– a bullet to the back of the head. The cash was missing from the cash register. I-70 Victim-Sarah Blessing

Later, a witness reported seeing a man walking up the incline to the main road behind the complex.

Woodson Village isn’t a large shopping center. It is a bit sunken, set in the sides of sloping hillocks, over which was paved the main roads. It isn’t close to I-70 really. But the main road behind it goes there.

The murderer was the I-70 Killer, of course. He obviously had continued west from St. Charles Missouri. Was he going to hit Kansas again next?

The truth of it is, as time would prove, he wouldn’t strike again. Not along the I-70 anyway. It would be over a year before similar killings would recommence. But they would do so along the I-35, the highway that leads from Kansas (through Wichita) and down into Texas. The gun would also be a .22 caliber, but of a different model.

Raytown MO murder scene--Probable6

From the main road looking down the slope to the back of the store in Woodson Village. 

The I-70 Killer had engaged in a month long killing spree and, as time has also proved, got away clean with it. He didn’t molest, torture, even fear-torture, his victims. He just shot them in the head and took minimal cash from the register. He hit small stores at off hours. He was, really, just interested in killing the clerk; perhaps also in the thrill of the hunt before-the-fact.

Raytown MO murder scene--marked

Woodson Village is marked with the yellow star. The killer seemed to know the area. It is relatively far from all highways, though at the intersection of main roads which lead to them. This is the furthest from a highway that he struck. 

The I-70 Killer struck furthest from the highway in Raytown and Wichita. His strike points in St. Charles, Terre Haute, and Indianapolis were right off the highway or just a couple of blocks away. There were auto businesses at all locations except Raytown and St. Charles. The general pattern of his strike points induce in us the theory that he was based closer to these points, and indeed these points are closer to the I-35. From this area, a killer enlarging upon his MO could do so by heading south along the I-35.

I-35 probe The strike points of the I-35 Killer. The highway leads down from Raytown and through Wichita, through Oklahoma, and then into Texas, through the first major city of Fort Worth, where the I-35 Killer would strike first.  

Before we attempt to connect those Texas murders to these I-70 murders, it is best to consider a few clues. One is the jeweler’s rouge. This was a cool, careful man with a knowledge of guns. He didn’t want one jamming on him. Two, the mumbler. The killer did some scoping before-the-act obviously. Did he use the disguise of being some transient druggie? No one would suspect such a person as the killer. Three, after the shot in Raytown that killed Blessing, the clerk next door looked out the window and saw a man walk away. He was calm and cool. Was this the mumbler, no longer needing his disguise?

Such a cool killer as this, stalker and premeditator of murder, is smart enough to shift model of weapons if he intends to start a crime spree elsewhere.  And we must bear this in mind as we descend into Texas next on the trail of a similar killer.

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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.

Quick Exit– More Clues in Missouri– The I-70 Killer

With the pattern so far laid down, you’d think the maniac of the I-70 might be going back to the Indianapolis area; that he had simply stopped off in Terre Haute after protracted business in the west (Wichita or Kansas) and did very minimal reconnoitering and then put another notch in the handle of his highly charged .22 automatic pistol.

But he didn’t. He swung westward again, through Illinois and then not far into Missouri. He struck just outside St. Louis in the suburb of St. Charles. The crime scene was closer to the highway than he had so far struck anywhere.

The date was May 3, 1992, only 6 days after he had shot McCown in Terre Haute.

The Boot Village Shop was in the large Bogey Hills shopping plaza right off Highway I-70. It was, however, quite different than the other stores therein. It was located in the corner, by a walkway that led to the back street and a small parking and loading area behind the center. Zumbehl Rd-I-70-5I-70 Victim-Nancy Kitzmiller

Within this shop worked 24 year old Nancy Kitzmiller. It was about 2:30 p.m. when a customer wandered around looking for her. He finally found her in the back room. She had been shot in the head. The murder had not happened much earlier, of course. This was the dull time of the day. The I-70 Killer waited to strike at these times. The shell casing and the ballistics proved it was him.

Most likely he had parked behind the store and then casually walked away again and drove off.

It took a little bit of stalking to discover that a young woman worked in such a convenient location in an otherwise very inconvenient and large shopping center. But the killer certainly hadn’t strayed far from the I-70, as the photos here show. He was probably quickly back on the highway and long gone by the time the police had arrived at the crime scene.

Kitzmiller-StCharlesMO-10

From our vantage today, the location offers a contrast to the others– there is no apparent autobody or mechanics or car dealership nearby. This was apparent in the other locations. Perhaps there was an auto parts store in the large center, but that is a bit of a different retail establishment than the others.  Corundum and red rouge had been found on the shell casings before, indicating the killer may have had some connection with a facility that did, among other things, some sanding. Corundum is used in sanding and on sandpaper, and is even on emery boards for nail filing.

There was one similarity in the location with the others (aside being next to the I-70). There were condos and apartments right by the shopping center, behind the small back road that serviced the center, on Fairways Circle. The other crime locations had been right off residential areas, though not in as busy a part of town as Bogey Hills.

I70_serial_killer1

So far, The I-70 Killer had struck with the zeal of a homicidal maniac. He robbed very little from the cash register. He robbed stores operated by young women (with one exception), and he simply shot them to the head. There was no molesting.

But the strike at Bogey Hills Plaza is the outlier. Could the I-70 Killer have been based in between the points where he was hitting? This would indeed indicate Missouri. Was he familiar to some extent with the shopping center for other reasons not associated with any form of work or delivery?

Where would the homicidal thrill seeker strike next? The next location will give us another clue. It would be only 4 days later and much further to the west.

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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.