The Monster of Florence was a heinous serial killer who mutilated his female victims and terrified Tuscany from 1968 to 1985; it is now the most famous cold case in Italy. Here in the Puget Sound, we knew this fear from the 70’s to the 90’s as two serial killers left their mark upon our lives, but we never expected a twist of fate to link us to a foreign murderer.
Our connection to the Monster of Florence is the Perugian Public Minister Giuliano Mignini, the man who wrongfully prosecuted and convicted Amanda Knox and her friend Raffaele Sollecito of the death of Meredith Kercher in 2009. His lurid tales of satanic rituals, sex, drugs and his parade of tramp witnesses were so far fetched that it set off alarm bells all over Amanda’s Seattle community. Fear replaced alarm when we discovered that this was not the first time Perugia's PM had used these same tactics, in the decade prior to Meredith’s murder he had become notorious as a wily and ruthless prosecutor.
His path to glory using the Monster of Florence case became our path to ruin.
In 1995 Michele Giuttari took over the MOF investigative squad and by 2002 he had joined forces in a holy war against the Order of the Red Rose (a medieval satanic sect) with Mignini and Gabriela Carlizzi, a spirit channeler. The lawyer, the cop and the psychic concocted theory after theory featuring mentally challenged persons, tramps, addicts and prostitutes as witness/informants. They wove elaborate tales about the modern doings of the ORR, whom they claimed had infiltrated Italy’s elite. Then they laid waste to a select few as they tried to prove that Satanism was alive and well in Tuscany and Umbria.
A year and a half before Meredith’s murder another American crossed paths with Mignini for writing about the case. In their book, “The Monster of Florence,” authors Doug Preston and Mario Spezi describe their interrogations at the hands of Giuliano Mignini. He accused Mario of being Il Mostro because he had been reporting on the investigation for decades and had amassed an impressive set of files on the case; Mignini imprisoned him, ‘confiscated’ his files and subjected him to an outlandish trial. Doug was chased out of Italy.
Doug and Mario were now victims of a different Monster of Florence, an investigation that had become a juggernaut, a destructive force.
For over forty years those accused of being the Monster or being connected with the Monster have had their lives destroyed as they and their families suffered from slander, finger pointing, shunning, imprisonment, lost jobs and ruined careers. The sixteen families who lost loved ones have waited for decades hoping that Il Mostro would answer for his crimes and although the police investigated 100,000 Italian men, most without their knowledge, the real killer remains elusive.
In the past decade, Perugia’s Monster hunt effectively steamrolled anyone who got in its way. In an unbelievable spectacle of accusations and legal actions more than 20 people found themselves entangled without a shred of evidence. No theory was too outlandish as Mignini, Giuttari and Carlizzi played off of each other. The mutilations became ‘obscene wafers for Satanic Rituals.’ An actor, writer and tramp were accused of being Il Mostro. The rich and famous were ORR Masterminds. A body was ‘switched twice’ by the ORR to fool authorities. The Satanic Trio saw signs of the Order of the Red Rose everywhere and Carlizzi spun fantastic tales of its perversion reaching into the highest offices and the wealthiest families, even recruiting novitiates on the campuses of the University of Washington and Leeds University. Be careful! That Husky might be a Satanist!
During the summer of 2007 Meredith, Amanda and Raffaele arrived in Perugia to settle in before the start of the new term at the University of Perugia and the University of Foreigners. No doubt Carlizzi ‘knew’ that the ORR had already infiltrated those schools.
On Sept 27, 2007, thirty-five days before Meredith’s death, the trial of Francisco Calamandrei began; the pharmacist was accused of being one of the Masterminds behind the Monster of Florence murders, the Satanists who paid tramps to obtain their “obscene wafers.” Mignini brought in a schizophrenic and several tramps; serial witnesses who had testified ten years earlier at another Monster trial. Calamandrei’s lawyer, Gabriele Zanobini, told the court that “almost all the results of the Perugian investigation are like so much waste paper.”
Then Zanobini read a document in which Mignini had interviewed an associate of Gabriela Carlizzi; the woman wove a bizarre tale that included many of the principals in the Monster investigation, the first of many lunacies Zanobini presented at trial. On May 21, 2008 Mr. Calamandrei was found innocent and “acquitted for the reason that the Allegation is Nonexistent.” That means, in Italian Law, that the crime had never occurred and Mignini failed to prove Satanism in court. Six and a half months later he would try again when he prosecuted Amanda and Raffaele for murder and accused them of being Satanists.
But on Oct 31, 2007 Mignini had been indicted for Abuse of Office and was awaiting trial. Calamandrei’s trail had just started. He was dealing with Carlizzi by himself. Giuttari was gone, sent back to Rome in shame. And a few powerful locals were not happy about the ORR/wealthy Old Italian family theory he had floated. Mignini’s career was on shaky ground and he needed a distraction, a sleight of hand, to shift attention away from himself for a while.
November 2, 2007 the distraction arrived in the form of Amanda Knox.
The night before, All Saint’s Day, Rudy Guede killed Meredith Kercher in a botched robbery/rape. Meredith’s murder is thirteen years to the day when Pietro Pacciani was convicted of being the Monster of Florence. Pacciani was the only person ever convicted of the crime, he was exonerated on appeal and all charges dropped in 1997.
Mignini and Scientific Police Chief Edgardo Giobbi (Giuttari’s replacement?) colluded to charge Amanda and Raffaele with Meredith’s murder, along with another innocent man, Patrick Lumumba. Mignini theorized Satanist involvement because of the proximity to Halloween and Carlizzi predicted that both girls belonged to the Order of the Red Rose. “One came to murder and one came to be the victim, neither knowing who would fulfill what role,” she mysteriously proclaimed.
November 2nd, All Soul’s Day, would begin an unending nightmare for three innocent families as their children gave up their lives to murder, vanity and avarice. Meredith dead, Amanda and Raffaele trapped in prison by corruption.
Amanda would bear the brunt of the international hate created by the PM and his henchmen while the official slight of hand deftly scooped up and imprisoned Rudy Guede, conveniently shutting him up with only a rare comment from his lawyer. Guede is the young man who’s DNA, fingerprints and shoeprints were all over the crime scene. All over Meredith. In 2010 his 30-year sentence for Meredith’s murder was cut to 16-years when he was ‘encouraged’ by his lawyers to write a letter of apology to the Kercher family for sexually brutalizing their daughter and then slashing her throat when she fought back.
Guede’s sentence reduction is shamefully biased.
In retrospect Amanda and Raffaele have been subject to pompous, heinous, ridiculous, contemptuous and slanderous lies; more than twenty were ‘created’ for them to bear. These intelligent, compassionate young adults were broadcast to the world as though they were insane, drug-crazed maniacs.
A near perfect description of the 1938 Reefer Madness trailer on Youtube is what Mignini described to the press in 2007 and to the court in 2009. Complete with young adults chain smoking joints, cackling maniacally, crazy dancing, knife welding, unabated sex, wild abandon, why Mignini even created “dialogue” for Meredith and Amanda’s fictional catfight to enthrall the court. “All that was missing was the video camera,” he said. Actually, I think the video camera in his head is worthy of a few flavorful expletives from a horrified mother. He needs to wash his brain out with soap.
Certainly all the MOF investigative tools were used to great effect during Meredith’s murder investigation. Spirit channelers, tramps and drug dealers for witnesses. Satanism, sex, drugs, tainted DNA evidence, elementary investigative mistakes, lurid accusations, illegal interrogations, thundering theatrics in the courtroom, finger pointing, imprisonment, solitary confinement, Abuse of Office, wiretapping, falsifying evidence and it is all complemented with a masterful bending and twisting of Italy’s Laws. Mignini artfully applied due process meant for violent criminals to innocent bystanders.
And here we are today, waiting patiently (sorta) and praying for fair play. That’s all anyone has ever asked for, Fair Play. We are cautiously optimistic as Judge Hellmann’s courtroom has been determined and insightful since fall and we applaud the court’s efforts to gain access to contested evidence in order to conduct a fair DNA review. Barring any other delays, we will know his ruling in the fall.
The judge is no doubt keeping his eyes upon developments in Italy. A coalition led by The Honorable Rocco Girlanda came before the Italian Parliament on May 20, 2011 with a petition asking authorities to launch an investigation into Public Minister Giuliano Mignini’s office. Mr. Girlanda became a supporter of innocence after he began paying visits to Amanda at Capanne prison in his official capacity as the Italian-American liaison.
Obviously the Italian-American liaison was the only one in the chain of command who saw a problem with the Perugian court system wrongfully persecuting innocent university students. Thank you kind sir!
Mr. Girlanda is part of a groundswell that started in Seattle in 2007. More and more people are speaking out for innocence, the press included. Seattle has been loudly, yet politely, grumbling for 3 ½ years and now we are joined by friends in Italy and from around the world. The Loud Crowd could easily become deafening if this judicial debacle continues longer than necessary. Plus we have help from the Voice of Reason in the scientific and judicial communities on two continents who just looked at the facts, ma’am.
Facts that are still being pried from the fingers of the prosecution, facts the defense has been waiting to review since November 2, 2007.
And my opinion, as the Average Citizen, is that it was a badly botched murder investigation by seasoned professionals led by a Public Minister who has a masterful grasp of law. He is not crazy, he is manipulative, controlling. Public Ministers are at the top of the judicial food chain in Italian cities, these are not wide-eyed neophytes. Giuliano Mignini knew what he was doing at Meredith’s crime scene and, as we have seen during the original trial and now during the appeal and slander trials, he knows how to work the legal system.
It’s readily apparent to me that Public Minister Mignini used our kids as a sort of human shield to deflect attention away from himself for his egregious behavior in the MOF case. But today Mignini is alone, Giuttari and Giobbi are in Rome and Carlizzi died in 2010. And I don’t think he meant to garner the international attention of so many intelligent professionals, the caliber of which reflects the true nature of Amanda, Meredith and Raffaele; not the entitled, drug-fueled, murderous criminals he imagined. What will become of him is anyone’s guess and I really don’t care, as long as the kids get out of prison and come home.
Our innocent kids have never given up hope that the truth will be known, so they have served the prison time thrust upon them with courage and grace. Vashon, Seattle and Bari should be proud.
But the soft glow of hope that has given us strength these long years throws into stark relief the sordid twists in the Monster of Florence investigation that led to the sacrifice of three innocent students and their families. Giuliano Mignini has been chasing Satanists all over the sun-drenched vineyards and through the winding medieval streets. Doing God’s Work. He proclaims to be a man of God, as well as a man of law, so he should know that he has broken all of the laws in Exodus 23:1-9. Certainly every good Christian is taught that actions, more than words, are the hallmark of righteousness and Mignini’s actions demonstrate evil, not good.
If the public minister wants to find a Satanist, he should look in the mirror.
It’s time for authorities to come together to stop the Monster of Florence from claiming any more victims. It’s time to free Amanda and Raffaele. It’s time for true justice for Meredith Kercher.