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10 Eerie Facts About The Monster Of Florence

by Antonio Napolitano
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Florence is a beautiful city in the northern half of Italy. It is known worldwide for its stunning architecture, well-stocked art galleries, and delicious food. However, from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, the city and its surrounding province were haunted by an unidentified serial killer known only as the Monster of Florence, or Il Mostro di Firenze in Italian.

The killer (or killers) captivated Italy and the world with his horrifying methods and ability to taunt police. The Monster’s crimes are considered by many to be the worst serial murders in Italy’s history. Here are ten eerie facts about the Monster of Florence.

10 He Was Meticulously Organized And Obsessive

The Monster, like most organized serial killers, had a very specific modus operandi, which he stuck to throughout his entire reign of terror. He would find a couple having sex on one of Florence’s many lovers’ lanes. He would then fire on them with the same .22-caliber Beretta handgun, with a defective firing pin causing unique marks to be left on the bullet casings. The bullets, all Winchester Series H, were confirmed by investigators to have come from the same box.

Once his victims were dead or well on their way, he would take the female out of the car, remove her clothes, and mutilate her sexual organs with what investigators believed to be a scuba knife. The only women who were not mutilated in this way were Barbara Locci, the first female victim, and Antonella Migliorini, whose murder was noticed by passersby, preventing the Monster from preforming his ritual.[1]

9 He Killed For Almost 20 Years

The first murders attributed to the Monster are that of Barbra Locci and Antonio Lo Bianco, who were shot to death in their car on August 21, 1968. The Monster did not strike again until September 15, 1974, when he shot Pasquale Gentilcore and Stefania Pettini in their car and mutilated Stefania postmortem. The Monster’s next cooling off period was much longer, with the next series of murders not taking place until 1981. On June 6, 1981, in his first attack in almost a decade, he chose Giovanni Foggi and Carmela De Nuccio, shooting them to death before cutting Giovanni’s throat and removing Carmela’s vagina, taking it with him as a trophy. He stuck again soon after on October 23, 1981, when he murdered Stefano Baldi and Susanna Cambi, again removing his female victim’s genitals as a trophy.

The killer once again went inactive until June 19, 1982, when he killed Paolo Mainardi and Antonella Migliorini. Unlike the previous murders, he did not mutilate the female victim, as Mainardi, despite having been shot by the Monster, managed to reverse the car onto a crowded street, thus attracting the attention of the locals. Mainardi later died at the hospital. The Monster’s next two victims were German tourists named Wilhelm Friedrich Horst Meyer and Jens Uwe Rusch. Unlike his previous victims, both individuals were male, the mistake likely caused by the fact that Rusch had long, blonde hair. A torn-up gay pornographic magazine was found on the floor of the couple’s van, leading investigators to believe that the men were in a homosexual relationship and that the Monster lost his temper when he realized his mistake.

The Monster killed two more couples in his spree, the next being Claudio Stefanicci and his girlfriend Pia Gilda Rontini, whose left breast was removed in addition to her pubic area. His final victims were French tourists Jean Michel Kraveichvili and Nadine Mauriot. Kraveichvili was initially injured by the bullets and attempted to escape before being caught by the Monster and stabbed to death. The fact that he was an amateur sprinting champion made it clear that the Monster was determined to kill. Mauriot was shot to death before both her left breast and vagina were removed. After that, no further murders were attributed to the Monster.[2]

8 There May Have Been More Than One Killer

A popular theory concerning the identity of the Monster is that it was not just one man but rather a gang of Sardinians living in the Florence area. This was first theorized by police when during an interview, Stefano Mele, Barbara Locci’s husband who was convicted of the first two Monster murders, said, “They need to figure out where that pistol is. Otherwise there will be more murders. They will continue to kill . . . They will continue.” These remarks were taken by investigators to mean that there was more than one killer. (For simplicity, this article will otherwise continue to refer to the Monster as a single entity as it has so far.)

Mele’s remark, combined with the fact that both Mele and Locci were Sardinian, led police to believe that the death of her and her lover were part of a Sardinian clan killing. Such murders, usually perpetrated by men related to one another, were done in order to preserve family honor. Because Barbra Locci was cheating on her husband with a non-Sardinian, police believed that she had broken the vows of marriage in the eyes of her husband and the Sardinian community, with her and her lover’s death being the punishment. Note that the Monster murders continued after Mele was locked up.[3]

7 He Was Profiled By The FBI

After an unofficial request by the Carabinieri, the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit made a profile of the Monster. This profile was never officially used in any inquiries into his crimes, largely due to the fact it did not fit any of the key suspects.

According to the profile, the Monster was a sexually impotent man aged 40 to 45 who lived alone or with an elderly relative. He possessed a pathological hatred of women. Since the Monster used the same gun and bullets for his murders, he probably also wore the same clothes and accessories while committing the crimes. It was speculated that he may have cannibalized some of the body parts he took as a means of fully possessing his victims. The fact that the Monster would ambush his victims, firing multiple rounds into their cars, indicated that he lacked confidence in his abilities to control the victims while they were alive.[4]

6 He Engaged In Serious Overkill And Mutilation

After shooting his victims to death, the Monster would take his crimes a step further. As previously referenced, he would often mutilate his female victims in bizarre ways. The first mutilation he carried out was on Stefania Pettini. After shooting her to death, he stabbed her 97 times around the sexual organs and violated her corpse with a grapevine. In his next two attacks, he removed the gentials of Carmela De Nuccio and Susanna Cambi, after shooting both of them to death first.

However, he did not mutilate anyone in the attacks on Paolo Mainardi and Antonella Migliorini, due to Paolo’s escape attempt attracting public attention, and the murders of Wilhelm Friedrich Horst Meyer, and Jens Uwe Rusch, likely because both victims were male. The Monster’s final two attacks saw him removing his female victims’ left breasts in addition to their genitals. Nadine Mauriot’s nipple was sent to one of the case’s prosecutors along with a threatening note.[5]

5 After Killing His First victims, He Carried A Child To Safety

The last thing you would expect a vicious serial killer to do is show any compassion. But that is exactly what the Monster did after killing Barbra Locci and Antonio Lo Bianco and discovering Locci’s six-year-old son Natalino in the back seat of the car they were parked in. As opposed to killing the young boy, the killer took him over his shoulders and carried him to a nearby home, singing to him on the way.

In later interviews, Natalino would say that he walked to the house alone. However, his young age and the fact that he had no shoes on led investigators to doubt this version of events.[6]

4 Some Have Linked The Case To Satanism

To this day, the prime suspect in the Monster case is former Italian farmer Pietro Pacciani, who was first noted by police after an anonymous phone call stated that he was the Monster. Pacciani, whose farm was searched in response to this allegation, was found to have a painting depicting a centaur, painted in an odd manner and singed by Pacciani. Investigators believed that this painting was both satanic in nature and consistent with the Monster’s personality, giving rise to the famed Satanist theory.

Despite the discovery that the painting was not painted by Pacciani, and his subsequent exoneration of all charges, the belief that satanism influenced the Monster continues to this day.[7]

3 After Successfully Evading Police For Many Years, He Began Taunting Them

Photo credit: Criminal Minds Wiki

On July 1, 1982, after having killed ten people in five separate attacks, the Monster’s first letter was received by police. In it was an old newspaper article from 1968 about the murders of Barbra Locci and Antonio Lo Bianco. Written on the newspaper was the phrase, “Take another look at this crime.”[8] This motivated police to reopen their investigation, leading to the discovery of the same handgun having been used in all of the murders.

The Monster sent his second letter in 1985, this time to Silvia Della Monica. It read, “DOTT. DELLA MONICA SILVIA PROCURA DELLA REPUBLICA CA 5000 FIRENZE.” This roughly translates to a threat directed at Della Monica, who, as previously mentioned, was a prosecutor investigating the Monster’s crimes, as well as the entire Italian Republic. Along with the letter was Nadine Mariout’s severed nipple, wrapped in tissue paper. This experience traumatized Della Monica, who would leave law enforcement soon after.

2 Multiple Men Have Been Wrongly Convicted Of The Monster’s Crimes

There is nothing worse in the criminal justice system then a wrongful conviction, and this case yielded multiple. The first man wrongfully convicted of crimes attributed to the Monster was Stefano Mele. He confessed to killing Locci and her lover Antonio Lo Bianco when pressed by police, but his confession was largely inaccurate compared to the evidence, and he later recanted, stating that he was merely present at the crime scene and that the real killer was a man named Salvatore Vinci. Nevertheless, he was convicted based off of a strong motive as well as a chemical test proving he had fired a gun on the night of the murders. He was sentenced to 14 years in light of aggravating circumstances and was only cleared in 1989, along with all other Sardinian suspects.

The second, and more infamous, man to be wrongfully convicted of the Monster’s crimes was Pietro Pacciani. Pacciani’s residence was searched, yielding a buried .22 caliber bullet and German household products suspected of having belonged to some of the victims. This, combined with the fact that Pacciani had stabbed a man to death in 1951 prior to raping his girlfriend next to the corpse as well as the fact that Pacciani was known to have a dangerously short temper, led authorities to arrest him. He was tried and convicted in a televised trial in 1994.

This conviction, which was subjected to an automatic appeal, was overturned in 1996, leading to Pacciani’s release from prison. Police, having been humiliated by this outcome, recruited a village idiot as well as a prostitute and a pimp to testify against Pacciani in an attempt to re-convict him in another trial. This trial, however, did not take place, as Pacciani died of a heart attack in 1998.[9]

1 He Has Never been Captured Or Identified

The man who shot, stabbed and mutilated 16 people (if, indeed, it was one person) has never been officially identified or convicted for his role in the worst serial murder case in Italian history.[10] Many have made comparisons between this case and that of Jack the Ripper, given that both are unsolved serial killer cases in Europe where the perpetrator made contact with the police and mutilated female victims.

Despite the last known Monster murder having occurred in 1985, there is still unease felt in Florence to this day, with many young people avoiding the once-famous lovers’ lanes, showing that the shadow of the Monster is still cast over this beautiful Renaissance city.

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fact checked by Jamie Frater