Monster of Florence

The killer stops

The killer waited almost a year since murder of German tourists before striking again. On 29 July 1984 21-year-old Claudio Stefanacci and 18-year-old Pia Gilda Rontini were killed in Vicchio di Mugello in a parked car. Stefanacci was found on the backseat of his car wearing only underpants and a vest, Rontini was found naked on the ground not far from away from the car. She was posed in a spread-eagle position and her genitals were removed. But this time the killer went a step further - he removed the left breast of the girl and stabbed her over 100 times. An autopsy soon revealed that both victims had been shot through the car window before being stabbed. The body of the girl was then dragged by the ankles about 10 meters away from the car and placed behind the bushes. The ballistic report proved that same .22 Beretta with Winchester bullets was used by the killer.

The last known murder committed by the Monster of Florence occurred on 8 September 1985, almost a year after attack on Rontini and Stefanacci. This time the victims were again foreigners - 25-year-old Jean-Michel Kraveichvili and 36-year-old Nadine Mauriot, both French, they were camping in San Casciano area near Florence. The body of Mauriot, discovered closed inside a tent, had four sho wounds - three bullets had penetrated her skull, the forth went through her throat. Kraveichvili was also shot four times - one in the mouth, two in the upper left arm, and one in the right elbow.

On the day following the latest murders, an envelope was delivered to the DA office - the address on the envelope was made using letters cut from the newspapers and contained a single spelling mistake. Inside the envelope was a sheet of paper folded and glued at the edges, inside that paper was a small plastic bag with a cube of flesh from Nadine Mauriots left breast and note that police should be looking for the latest victims. It is believed that killer did send the note because police did not found yet the bodies - they were foreigners and were camping in the secluded are, so noone reported them missing.

Pathologist reported that the couple was attacked while they were making love, all the shots were fired from very close range. His theory was that the man was probably lying on his back with the woman on top of him. She died from the gunshot wounds, while he was only superficially wounded and tried to escape. He run about 30 meters from the tent before he was stabbed by the killer. Body of Kraveichvili was thrown down a bank into the bushes, then the killer returned to the tent, where he removed the vagina and left breast of the victim.

Soon after the murder the police have found the first lead - a Winchester bullet was found on a sidewalk in front of a nearby hospital. The proximity of the hospital, together with previous theories that the killer was using the surgical gloves and was good with sharp instruments, led the police to question members of the hospital staff. Unfortunately this has provided no suspects nor further leads.

Over the course of the next eight years, investigators questioned more than 100,000 people in hopes of gaining a lead. In 1990s Pietro Pacciani became a suspect. He was 68-year-old semi-literate farmer, who enjoyed hunting and taxidermy. He caught the attention of police when they found that in 1951 he was arrested for the murder of a travelling salesman, whom he caught sleeping with his fiancée. After stabbing the man 19 times and stomping him to death, Pacciani raped his corpse. He was quickly convicted and sentenced for 13 years in prison. Following his release from prison, Pacciani married and settled down to raise a family. He was again jailed between 1987 and 1991 for beating his wife and sexually molesting his two young daughters.

Police also gained the informations that Pacciani was involved in an occult group with three other men: Mario Vanni, Giovanni Faggi and Giancarlo Lotti, who were all known as peeping toms wandering the area during the night. Pacciani and Vanni were also alleged to have participated in black masses, which used female body parts at the house of a supposed wizard in San Caciano. Nurses at a clinic, which had previously hired Pacciani as a gardener, also came forward and claimed that he told them a doctor presided over satanic ceremonies he attended. Although the police believed Pacciani was too sloppy to have planned the crimes, he was arrested on 17 January 1993. Despite the fact that there was very little evidence against him Pacciani was found guilty and sent to prison for life.

On 13 February 1996, an appeals court overturned the conviction of 71-year-old Pietro Pacciani and cleared him of "all fault". Few hours after Pacciani was released police arrested two his friends - Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti - for their involvement in the murders. Since that point the investigators started to suspect that not one killer, but an entire gang of killers might have been responsible for the Monster of Florence crimes. They soon concluded that the gang must have been led by 71-year-old Pietro Pacciani, and would have included 70-year-old Mario Vanni, 54-year-old Giancarlo Lotti and 77-year-old Giovanni Faggi.

The Italian Supreme Court quickly overturned the decision to free Pacciani and on 12 December 1996 ordered a retrial in light of new evidence - allegedly Lotti have confessed that he and Pacciani had perpetrated the killings. Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti were convicted and sentenced to life and 26 years respectively. Pacciani never made it to his retrial - on 23 February 1998, he was found dead in his home. The police suspected that he had died of a cardiac arrest, but autopsy revealed that a combination of drugs caused his death.

In August 2001 investigators again reopened the case, this time believing that a group of 10 to 12 wealthy, sophisticated Italians orchestrated the ritualized murders over the course of three decades and got away with it. Investigators surmise that the religious sect required night-time executions of courting couples, followed by mutilation with the help of a .22 Beretta revolver and a surgical knife. They were tipped off by a series of undisclosed anonymous letters, which are believed to name some of the suspects, including an unknown doctor and a Swiss artist. The artist reportedly left the area in 1997, but police are said to have drawings he made of mutilated women and newspaper clippings he had saved. In September 2001, Florence investigators raided the homes and offices of Aurelio Mattei, a psychologist with the SISDE (Italian interior intelligence agency), and Francesco Bruno, Italy’s leading criminal psychologist. Computer disks, books and notes about the killings were confiscated, and both men were questioned. While neither of them is a suspect in the investigation, detectives believed they may have withheld critical evidence from the original investigation.

Regardless of these new evidence Vanni and Lotti remain incarcerated. After 16 murders, 4 local people spending years in jail and absolute lack of hard evidence the case is still a mystery.

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