Serial killers strike fear into all our hearts. We want them caught and banged up behind bars for good, so we feel safer. But what if a murderer on the loose is never identified, let alone caught..?
The Monster of Florence: Italy
Between 1968 and 1985, in Florence, eight couples were brutally slaughtered. The victims were usually being intimate in cars when they were shot – all with the same type of pistol and bullets – then stabbed. The women’s bodies were often mutilated.
The first victims, on 21 August 1968, were lovers, Barbara Locci, 31, and Antonio Lo Bianco, 29, parked in secluded woods. Barbara’s sleeping 6-year-old son was unharmed.
Stefano Mele, her husband, was jailed for 14 years for the crime. But the murders in cars continued…
Pasquale Gentilcore, 19, and Stefania Pettini, 18, were killed in the countryside. Another couple were murdered in a similarly secluded spot. So Mele couldn’t be the so-called Monster of Florence…
In October 1981, another couple was attacked. Then, in 1985, after a French couple was murdered, police received a tip-off implicating previously convicted killer Pietro Pacciani. Jailed in 1994, he was cleared two years later, along with Mele.
Then police were given the names Giancarlo Lotti and Mario Vanni. Both were jailed and have since died, but their convictions were widely thought unsafe.
It seems the true Monster of Florence may still be at large…
Jack the Ripper: UK
Early on 31 August 1888, two men heading to work in Whitechapel, East London, stumbled across the body of a woman, her skirts pulled up around her waist. Shocked, they alerted the police. The woman had been almost decapitated, and had hideous incisions in her abdomen. The victim was prostitute Mary Ann Nichols – believed to be the first victim of Jack the Ripper.
Over the next three months, the killer struck repeatedly. Annie Chapman’s body was discovered on 8 September. Her throat and abdomen had been slashed, her uterus removed, and her intestines pulled out. Later that month, two victims were discovered on the same day: Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes. The Ripper had removed Catherine’s left kidney and part of her uterus.
Speculation about the killer’s identity was rife…
Did his methods indicate a doctor, slaughterman or butcher?
On 9 November 1888 Mary Jane Kelly was murdered, too. Her body was mutilated, her breasts removed and her entire abdominal cavity emptied out.
Countless theories have never uncovered the killer’s identity. It remains the stuff of nightmares.
The Zodiac Killer: USA
Parked in a secluded spot in California, Betty Lou Jensen,16, and David Arthur Faraday, 17, sat huddled in his car. By 11.15pm that night, on 20 December 1968, the car was showered with bullets.
There were few clues as to who had murdered the teenage sweethearts.
The following July, Darlene Ferrin, 22, and Michael Mageau, 19, were parked up when a car blocked them. A man got out, opened fire, then turned to leave. Michael shouted out and the shooter returned, firing again before speeding off. Only Michael survived, describing the attacker as 5ft 8in tall and heavy-set.
Hours later, at 12.40am, an anonymous caller reported the crime to police, at the same time confessing to the Jensen and Faraday murders.
Then, in August 1969 letters – partly written in a strange cipher – arrived at three newspaper offices, the author dubbing himself ‘Zodiac’. A subsequent letter said that the killer’s identity was hidden in the symbols, but, though the code was cracked, his name was never discovered.
In September 1969, students Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shepard were attacked. Bryan survived, but Cecelia died two days later.
Weeks after, cab driver, Paul Stine, 29, was shot dead in the temple.
A section of his shirt was removed, a part of which was sent with a letter from the Zodiac Killer to a newspaper.
Further correspondence followed, but the mystery of the Zodiac’s identity remains unsolved.