Monster of Florence

Il Mostro

The Monster of Florence, in Italy known as Il Mostro, attacked for the first time on 21 August 1968 in Lastra a Signa, a small town to the west of Florence. The victims were two lovers, 29-year-old Antonio Lo Bianco and 32-year-old Barbara Locci, who were found shot to death with a .22 Beretta pistol. Locci’s 6-year-old son Natalino was asleep in the back of the car, when he woke up and saw his mother dead he run to the nearest buildings. As he knocked on the door he told the owner of the house "You have to drive me home, because my mommy and my uncle are dead in their car". When asked by the police Natalino initially said he had run away from the car alone, then changed his story and stated that his father (or maybe an uncle, as he used to call his mother’s lovers) had driven him to the house where he asked for help. Years later he said again that he was alone, but too shocked to remember exactly what happened on that night.

The motive for the crime seemed obvious for the police - Locci was famous in the town because of her multiple love affairs (she even gained the nickname "queen bee"), so the authorities took a close look at Locci’s husband, Stefano Mele. When police reached his house they found Mele with suitcase in his hand and looking like he was in a hurry. He didn’t seem to be preoccupied by the news about death of his wife, but agreed to go to the police station. Mele told investigators that he had not been feeling well the afternoon and stayed home, during which time two people had come to visit him, Carmelo Cutrona and Antonio Lo Bianco (both were his wife’s lovers). During the questioning, Mele also mentioned Francesco Vinci, another lover of his wife. In past Vinci was arrested after his wife accused him of adultery. As soon as Vinci was released from prison, he resumed the relationship with his lover. In fact Barbara Locci had been the lover of all three Vinci brothers - Francesco, Giovanni and Salvatore.

23 August 1968 Mele told the police that one of his wife’s lovers could have been the murderer of the couple, but soon he confessed that he and Salvatore Vinci had killed his wife Barbara and Antonio Lo Bianco. Mele stated that, when his wife and son did not returned home by 11:20 PM, he went looking for them. He met Salvatore Vinci and told him that Barbara had gone to the movies, perhaps with Antonio Lo Bianco, and taken their child with her. Vinci told Mele that he is too soft allowing his wife to cheat on him and he should do something about it. Vinci had a pistol with him and they both drove to Lastra a Signa.

They have found Lo Bianco’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta parked near the movie theatre, so they waited outside until they saw the couple leaving. Locci carried her son in her arms and soon they drove away. Mele and Vinci followed them to the cemetery just outside the town and when they saw that the couple started to make out Vinci gave Mele the pistol. Stefano said he walked up to the car and began firing until the gun was empty. He returned to Vinci’s car and drove away. When they were crossing the river they threw away they gun into the water and soon Mele was back home. He said he killed his wife because he was tired of her humiliating him. In his story Mele did not mention seeing his son at the crime scene nor how his son got to the farm where he asked for help. But police was happy with the confession and soon Mele was arrested.

On 24 August 1968 police searched the area looking for the weapon, but when they could not find it they returned to Mele, who this time stated that he did not thrown the pistol away, he has given it back to Vinci. Few hours later Mele retracted his whole confession, this time stating that Francesco Vinci, Salvatore’s brother, killed his wife and her lover. During next 3 days Mele few times changed his versions, but nevertheless he was convicted of the double murder and sent to prison for 14 years. But 6 years later the authorities had to rethink their line of investigation when other couples were killed in the area using the same weapon.

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