Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Werewolf Syndrome: Compulsive Bestial Slaughterers

The Full Moon Killer

Map of Italy with Florence locator
Map of Italy with Florence locator

In Italy, the so-called "Monster of Florence" stopped killing in 1985 after thirty-two victims had died over a period of seventeen years, most of them killed during the full moon.   The "monster" seemed obsessed with couples in cars on deserted streets who were making love.  All of them were shot through the window, and then the females were often mutilated; in some cases, their sex organs or breasts were removed with what appeared to be a sharp implement, such as a scalpel. 

The first incident occurred, according to Lane and Gregg, in August 1968 when a man and his mistress were shot while they made out near a cemetery in the outskirts of Florence.  The woman, Barbara Locci, was married, so her husband was tried, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment.  He had confessed but had then retracted his confession.  No one believed the retraction, since he had a clear motive and he'd been leaving his home with a suitcase when police had arrived the day after the murder to question him.  Then, six years later on September 14, 1974, another couple was shot outside Florence, and ballistics testing matched the bullet to the same Berreta that had shot the .22 caliber bullets that had killed the couple in 1968.  The woman had been stabbed 96 times, clearly during frenzy.

Again, years went by before another such incident was linked to this offender.  On June 6, 1981, a couple was killed and the woman's genitals were mutilated.  Her vagina had been entirely cut out and removed.  After that, the killer stepped up his pace.  In 1983, using the same gun, he killed a pair of homosexual lovers, but they were not mutilated.  Some officials speculate that he'd made a mistake.

After the last couple was murdered in 1985, with the man chased down and the woman horribly cut up, an assistant DA received an envelope containing strips of skin from the breast of the female, removed after she was shot.   The Monster of Florence was clearly playing a game, but they were no closer to identifying him.

Sketch of Monster of Florence
Sketch of Monster of Florence

Over the years since 1968, investigators had questioned more than one hundred thousand people.  Then, during the early 1990s they identified Pietro Pacciani, a 68-year-old farmer with a taxidermy hobby who had served a prison term for stabbing and stomping a man to death.   He'd also sexually molested his own two daughters and was allegedly involved in an occult group.

Pacciani in court
Pacciani in court

Despite his claims of innocence and only slight circumstantial evidence against him, Pacciani was convicted for seven of the murders.   But then he was freed on appeal.  However, two of his associates, Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti, were arrested and convicted for their part in five of the murders.  A judge ordered a new trial for Pacciani, whom the public believed was guilty.  Then, before his retrial, Pacciani died from a drug overdose, so the murders officially remain unsolved.  There are sources that say that the two imprisoned men are innocent, but so far, no one else has been charged with the murders.

The fact that the incidents occurred under a full moon and were carried out in what appeared to be a bestial frenzy marks this series of crimes as similar to those committed by people who described themselves as driven by savage, wolf-like compulsions.


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