New ‘Monster of Florence’ Suspect

Pietro Pacciani in a period photo

The search continues into the 21st century now as the residents of Florence are forced to recall the infamous hunt for the “Monster of Florence” back in the 1970s and 80s. Beginning in 1968, and continuing nearly 20 years — up to 1985 — a series of eight homicides took place that targeted couples inside of cars and left police without any real leads to pursue.

Each crime took place in a different location, beginning in Vicchio and spanning across the province of Florence, with couples found murdered outside of Calenzano, near Scandicci, Giogoli and and the last in Scopeti. The victims were heterosexual couples attacked while in compromising positions in parked cars, with several females mutilated postmortem.

Police were baffled at the inexplicable phenomena that struck fear into the hearts of locals, as the perpetrator remained a mystery until the man believed to have orchestrated and committed the crimes was later found guilty and charged later in the 90s. The alleged killer, Pietro Pacciani, who served time in prison prior to these events, was named the primary suspect after an alleged accomplice, Gianfranco Lotti, came forward and confessed to the murders, and named Pacciani as the leader.

Convicted for murder prior to these serial killings, Pacciani reportedly committed a “crime of passion” by killing the man he witnessed engaging in sexual activity with his fiancée.  Convicted, he served 14 years in prison before he was released just before the beginning of the murders attributed to the serial killer dubbed the “Monster of Florence.”

In 1991, the investigation of Pacciani officially began and continued for two years until in 1993 an arrest was finally made. Unfortunately, Pacciani died of a heart attack before the trials came to an end.  Five years ago, the defense attorney representing the final couple of victims requested that police further the investigation because the he did not believe Pacciani was the murderer.

Today, the case has been reopened in order to examine a separate alleged perpetrator. Giampiero Vigilanti has become the new focal point for the investigation, a suspect who was also questioned back in 1985 because of alleged ties to Pacciani; both are from Vicchio and were acquainted with each other.  A member of the Foreign Legion, during WWII, Vigilanti is also known to have been a part of the extremist right wing group, who engaged in the political realm through terrorism methodology. Because the crimes were committed during an exponential rise in terrorism in Italy, and because Vigilanti was affiliated with the far right, he was viewed as a suspect.

In 1994, police were sent to Vigilanti’s residence to control a domestic situation, where Vigilanti had an argument with a neighbor that turned violent when Vigilanti surfaced his rifle and pointed the gun at the neighbor. The bullets found inside the rifle are identical to the bullets found in the pairs of victims who were targeted almost a decade prior. As the case ensues, its complexity grows because the passage of time has decreased the number of informative witnesses who have either died, or grown old.  The gruesome facts attributed to the “Monster of Florence” may dominate headlines in local newspapers, but it is an 87-year-old who was recently questioned by police.

To read more in Italian, visit Florence’s La Repubblica new site.