It’s 1993 and Mario Spezi’s life remains consumed by the Monster of Florence case, despite Brother Galileo Babbini’s urgings to leave it all behind him. With the trial of Pietro Pacciani about to begin – the man charged with the Monster of Florence’s fourteen murders – Mario can’t tune out what could be the culmination of a twelve year investigation. Little does he know, he’s about to become a suspect in the case himself.
Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories show hosts Carter Roy and Wenndy MacKenzie follow Mario Spezi’s remaining years on the Monster of Florence case.
Brother Babbini tries to persuade an exhausted Mario Spezi to give up the Monster of Florence case and find another line of work. Mario regretfully admits how much of his daughter’s childhood he’s missed in his pursuit of the serial killer. He hopes that discovering The Monster’s identity will give him closure, but Brother Babbini is uncertain.
On the stand, Pietro’s daughter tells the court about her father’s excessive drinking, physically abusive behavior and proven ability to kill. Despite this, she strongly believes her father is too incapacitated by alcoholism to methodically carry out the Monster’s slayings. Not to mention that he spends all of his time at home, bullying his family.
After the daughter’s testimony, Pietro’s defense attorney highlights his old age, short stature and heart condition and cites the circumstances of the French couple murders to cast doubt. The late Jean Kraveichvili was a trained professional runner, yet he had been chased down and tackled, a feat too great for an out-of-shape sixty-year old man.
When Pietro takes the stand, the prosecutor shows him the German couple’s belongings that were found in Pacciani’s home and the .22 Beretta buried in his garden. Pietro denies that they were his, and he vehemently protests the accusations stacked against him. However, the compelling evidence leads to a guilty verdict. It’s a field day for the press and public, but Mario Spezi knows in his gut that the Monster of Florence has not been caught.
Two years later, in 1996, the prosecution surprisingly has a momentary change of heart, and Pietro is acquitted before anyone realizes it may have been a mistake. Four new witnesses come forward, one of whom is Giancarlo Lotti, a friend of Pietro Pacciani. He tells investigators that he served as a lookout during some of the murders committed by Pietro and another friend named Mario Vanni. According to him, the former shot both victims and the latter mutilated the women.
Under pressure in the interrogation room, Giancarlo tells authorities that a doctor hired him and the others to kill and take the genitalia of the female victims for Satanic ritual offerings. Both Lotti and Vanni are sent to prison, but Pacciani dies of a heart attack before he can return to trial.
Mario Spezi still believes the real killer is both alive and free. Even so, Mario somewhat takes Brother Babbini’s advice and quits his job at La Nazione, becoming a partner in his cousin’s luggage business instead. On the side, he writes about the case for the paper as a freelancer, but does so infrequently. Despite outward appearances, his involvement with the case is far from over, and he begins working with American writer Douglas Preston on a book titled The Monster of Florence.
During this time, Mario receives information about a suspect from a high-ranking official in The Carabinieri, Italy’s military police force. The official gives him an old report done by the United States FBI for Chief Inspector Ruggero Perugini, profiling the Monster as a lonely, sexually impotent man with a strong hatred towards women. The FBI report names the son of one of the original Sardinian clan leaders as their prime suspect.
Mario and Douglas track the man down and visit his apartment unannounced in hopes of interviewing him. After giving a fake name, they are buzzed up, but the man doesn’t appear alarmed when he recognizes the star Italian journalist. He seems happy enough to talk to them and says that he admires Mario’s work. The man – whose identity the two writers have kept anonymous – intentionally or unintentionally reveals three crucial things about himself: that he owned a scuba knife, that he was away from Florence during the Monster’s gaps in killing and that he was impotent.
Mario and Douglas return to their car certain that they have met the Monster of Florence.
A new cop on the case, Chief Inspector Michele Giuttari, stirs trouble for Mario. Giuttari supports the theory that Pietro Pacciani, Giancarlo Lotti and Mario Vanni murdered for Satanic rituals, and takes it personally when Mario Spezi publicly discredits it.
One morning in 2004, Mario and his wife Myrium wake up to the police banging loudly on the door. When Mario rouses himself from bed and opens the door, officers rush inside. Giuttari then hands him a warrant to search the premises, and the police remove everything relating to the Monster of Florence.
Undeterred, Mario and Douglas continue to pursue their own leads, but in 2006, Preston is ordered to return to the U.S after being interrogated by the police. Then, just eleven days before the publication of their book, Mario Spezi is arrested and treated like a terrorist while in custody. He spends three weeks in Capanne, one of Italy’s worst prisons and learns that the police tapped his phones and his car.
Eventually, Mario is released and his investigation of the Monster of Florence case finally ends. After surviving harsh treatment by the police and enduring the horrors of prison, he wants nothing to do with the affair.
Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories show hosts Carter and Wenndy recap the main theories and pledge their support of Mario’s – that the anonymous Sardinian man he and Douglas interviewed was the Monster of Florence.
Considering the high turnover of police officers assigned to the case, Mario Spezi was the only constant in a twenty-five-year-long investigation. Carter and Wenndy believe that makes him the most reliable source on the subject, and that his theory is correct.
In September of 2016, Mario Spezi passed away, possibly knowing the true identity of the Monster of Florence. If so, he never had the satisfaction of it being confirmed, but maybe, as Brother Babbini wished, he didn’t need it in the end.
Now that you know what we think, join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to know your own thoughts and theories.