Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Monster of Florence

Unbalanced Scales

 

Pietro Pacciani in court just prior to his release
Pietro Pacciani in
court just prior to his
release

On Feb. 13, 1996, an appeals court overturned the conviction of 71-year-old Pietro Pacciani and cleared him of "all fault" -- a ruling that came one week after a public prosecutor stated that the evidence against him was unsound.  Nonetheless, few doubted that Pacciani, who in his youth had murdered a traveling salesman, was indeed the Monster of Florence, and his release caused a strong public outcry.  Interestingly enough, the release of Pacciani came just hours after the arrest of Paccianis friends Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti, for their involvement in the murders.

Acting on new information, investigators began 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.  In retrospect, it appears as though prosecutors were simply grasping at straws. 

The Italian Supreme Court quickly overturned the decision to free Pacciani and on Dec. 12, 1996 ordered a retrial in light of new evidence.  Allegedly Lotti was said to have confessed to police that he and Pacciani had perpetrated the killings.

On May 21, 1997, Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti went on trial for their involvement in five of the double murders.  The two men were ultimately convicted and sentenced to life and 26 years respectively. Pacciani never made it to his retrial for involvement in the Monster of Florence murders.  On  Feb. 23, 1998, he was found lying face down on the floor of his home with his trousers down at his ankles and his shirt up around his neck. Although his face was blue and disfigured, the initial police opinion was that he had died of a cardiac arrest.  A post-mortem examination revealed that a combination of drugs had caused his death.  The investigating magistrate, Paolo Canessa, believed that Pacciani was silenced lest he reveal the real monster, or monsters.

One would assume that since Pacciani was dead and Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti were behind bars, that the case of the Monster of Florence would be closed.

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