Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Monster of Florence

The Mistaken Murders

Police sketch of the Monster of Florence
Police sketch of the
Monster of Florence

The killer waited about a year before striking again.  On Sept. 9, 1983, the Monster surprised police by breaking his pattern, albeit by accident, by murdering two West German boys, Horst Meyer and Uwe Rusch Sens.  The two young victims were shot to death while sleeping in a Volkswagen camper just 19 miles south of Florence in a grassy clearing.  Some later reports stated that the boys were homosexual lovers, but there was no evidence to substantiate this claim.

There was no apparent mutilation to the victims bodies and investigators did not initially connect the murders to that of the Monster of Florence.  Nonetheless, ballistics tests proved that the same Beretta .22 had been used in the murders.  This revelation baffled investigators.  Why had the killer changed his pattern?  Perhaps the killer had made a mistake.  One of the victims had very long blond hair and may have been mistaken for a girl.  Upon realizing his mistake, the killer may not have wished to perform his usual mutilations on a male.

Apart from the pistol and the cartridges used by the killer, investigators were intrigued by some of the common elements of each crime -- all of the victims had spent their last evenings at a discotheque; the murderer usually struck on Saturdays; and he preferred to strike when the moon was hidden by the clouds.  This last detail could have some cryptic explanation, or simply be a precaution taken by the murderer to lessen his chances of being recognized.  In addition, it was theorized that the reason the killer rummaged through the female victims belongings was so he could take some sort of macabre souvenir. 

Following the press coverage of the most recent murders, Massimo Introvigne, a religious historian, came forward to talk with investigators about the crimes. Introvigne told investigators that Florence, which partly inspired the poet Dante to write his Inferno, had a long tradition of sorcery.  He went on to inform them that occult sects were not necessarily Satanists and that the ritual nature of the murders suggested fetishists were involved.  This revelation sat well with investigators who had already begun to suspect that the genitalia taken by the killer may have been used as some form of trophy by a religious cult.

A short time after the murder of the two young campers, the Red Cross emergency worker who had accompanied Paolo Mainardi to the hospital in 1982 and was later contacted by the killer, received another disturbing phone call while on vacation in Rimini.  The killer continued to badger him about what Mainardi had told police before he died.  This revelation shocked police.  Who could have known that the worker was on vacation and how did they know how to contact him? 

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