Italy's dark side: Clooney, Florence and the 'crucified' girl

May 7, 2014
Andrea Vogt

Prosecutor who led Monster of Florence case – soon to be a Clooney film - has a new serial killer to find

Samir Hussein/Getty Images For The BFI

FLORENCE – Does the Tuscan capital have a new 'monster' on its hands? A serial killer to rival the so-called Monster of Florence who struck 16 times between 1968 and 1985 and has never been caught? It looks like it - and the new killer's timing could hardly be more Hollywood-friendly.

Last week, the American screenwriter Chris McQuarrie was in town to scout locations for the shooting of The Monster of Florence, which George Clooney will produce and star in as the American writer Douglas Preston, on whose book the film is based. 

Preston came to live in Tuscany in 2000 and discovered that a garden near his new home was the scene of one of the murders perpetrated by the 'monster', who always targeted couples making out in public places, shooting them with a Beretta pistol at close range, and invariably mutilating the genitals of the female victim.

Preston then took it upon himself to look into the killings but got caught up in what authorities say was a botched attempt to derail the investigation.

Back to the present – and according to Italian media, screenwriter McQuarrie was spotted carrying The Dark and Bloody Guide to Florence (with an introduction by Douglas Preston) under his arm. For authenticity, he should have come a week later.

This Monday, the body of a Romanian prostitute was discovered, naked but for her socks and tennis shoes, her arms duct-taped to a metal bar as if she had been crucified.

A man passing by on his bicycle found the dead girl on her knees, in woods close to a cemetery on Florence's northern periphery. "She was tied with her arms outstretched; her head was rolled over," he told the Corriere della Sera. "It looked like she was crucified."

First reports say Andrea Cristina Zamfir, 26, from Romania, was raped and killed after having performed sexual acts and after a long, desperate struggle to get loose that left her elbows bruised. Coroners estimate she died around midnight

The case is eerily similar to one a year ago when a 46-year-old Italian prostitute was attacked in a similar way in nearly the same location. She escaped, however, and is now working with investigators looking into the two killings and the disappearance of other working girls.

“Once again we are seeing the dark side of this city,” said Michele Giuttari, the bestselling Sicilian crimewriter and ex-cop who headed the homicide team that investigated the Monster of Florence murders.

Partly because of the killer's mutilation of sexual organs, Giuttari believed the 'monster' had links to freemasons and/or satanic sects – and he believes the new killer could be in the same mold.

"The whole world wants to visit enchanting Florence," Giuttari told me. “But the city has a dark soul, with secret sects, freemasonry and esoteric dark arts. And when that side occasionally reveals itself, we see crimes like this one – a woman killed and left hanging like a crucifix on a road called Cemetery Way.”

And here come the twists… 

The investigation of a possible new serial killer is being coordinated by Paolo Canessa, the same prosecutor who worked on the Monster of Florence cases – still unsolved and still making legal reverberations today.

The Monster of Florence was co-written by Preston with an Italian journalist called Mario Spezi. The book took as its central premise a private theory of Spezi's that a Sardinian man, Antonio Vinci, was the monster and that Giuttari was wrong to be pursuing the "dark arts" line of inquiry.

Today, however, long after the book became a bestseller, inquiries have proved Vinci to have been innocent while Spezi stands accused of attempting to plant evidence to prove his baseless theory. The preliminary hearing is set for 25 June.

If followers of the Amanda Knox murder trials are thinking this is ringing bells, they are not mistaken: Preston and Spezi inserted themselves into that case too, going on television in the United States and Italy to push another baseless theory of a deranged prosecutor going after the wrong person.

But there’s a saying in Italy: Il tempo è galantuomo - time is a gentleman. Years later, the prosecutor’s charge of murder against Amanda Knox has held up on appeal and it is Spezi who is on trial for allegedly mucking up a murder investigation.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Disqus - noscript

"to push another baseless theory of a deranged prosecutor going after the wrong person."
If you did your homework you would understand that 'deranged' is too light a word for this particular Italian prosecutor. He doesn't want justice, he wants lights, action and cameras all trained on him.

You're a piece of work aren't you Vogt? Those women had more soul than you do, and class. Talk about mucking up the truth, this is not journalism it's not even worthy of lining a litter box is so full of holes, lies.

It's most unfortunate to hear that the Monster of Florence project is still going ahead. Clooney must not value his good relationship with the Italian people. They don't want their countrymen and their institutions slimed by a couple of limp dicked liars, Preston and Spezi.

Nice journalism, The Week. Nothing biased about this article. "Another baseless theory of a deranged prosecutor going after the wrong person." I guess those are just "the facts." What a load of nonsense.

Good piece Andrea. Seems to have attracted typically rabid comments from the deranged, serial nutters who tend to swarm at the merest mention of "Amanda Knox" and "prosecutor". You have to laugh at their resolute idiocy.

Who are "those women" that have more soul than Vogt? Do you mean the prostitutes? If so, you need to have a little chat with yourself about how you view fellow human beings. Are you suggesting prostitutes have no souls? Wow.

Andrea Vogt is suggesting that Douglas Preston, a successful, bestselling US author, and Mario Spezi, a highly experienced crime reporter, somehow "conspired" to plant evidence in a criminal case.

Never mind that Spezi was illegally arrested by Giuilano Mignini and was held incommunicado under an anti-Mafia (!) law. It caused an international outcry and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) interfered on Spezi's behalf. Spezi was absolved of all wrongdoing, however in 2013, Italy's supreme court decided that the case against him was improperly dismissed. There is little doubt Spezi will be cleared once again, in 2015 if not in 2014.

The Monster of Florence by Preston and Spezi is an excellent exposé of Florentine and Perugian investigators and prosecutors. Everyone who wishes to understand how seriously messed-up Italy's legal system has always been, should read the book. It's a must-read classic.

Mignini had a lot of help destroying 4 computers, interrogation videotape, lying about TMB negative testing and everything Stefanoni did in her lab, the Harry Potter book lie, the shop keeper the old ladies across the street, Toto. He had everything done except find a real motive and real evidence. Andrea suffers from confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance and has a major stake in the game - called her credibility. She seems happy about Italian face saving corruption because it makes her look correct. Yeah, Andrea, Rudy and Raffaele killing Meredith with Amanda because Amanda stole money from her just makes so much more sense then that sex game that went horribly wrong. Try burglary interrupted - that is what the evidence shows and boy does that happen all the time. Way to go Andrea,this story will never end. Make sure you stress how Italy puts reporters in jail for us Americans that take free speech protection for granted.

"Baseless theory or a deranged prosecutor going after the wrong person"?

What part of "the prosecutor in the Amanda Knox case WAS deranged and he DID go after the wrong person" is she having trouble understanding. International experts are breathing fire. They include three retired FBI agents, one of whom, John E. Douglas, is considered to be one of America's foremost experts on homicide investigations.

The case against Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito is a sham, nothing less than a 21st Century witch trial. Rudy Guede did it and he did it alone. Tragically, this type of male on female violence occurs everyday somewhere around the world.

A point that real journalists -- not Vogt or her partner in crime, travel and dining columnist Barbie Latza Nadeau -- should investigate is whether Meredith Kercher would still be alive if Italian authorities had done their jobs properly. Rudy Guede had been on a crime spree in the weeks before the murder. If Italian police had properly responded to the numerous citizen complaints about him, they could have taken him out of circulation and Meredith Kercher would still be alive today.

The Monster of Florence murders will probably never be solved. It's ominous that another serial killer may have emerged. There probably will be lives lost because Italian police don't know how to properly investigate murders.

Unlikely the movie will be more than a fictionalized account. No innocent people named, nor prosecutors slimed, no dead writers words plagiarized, and Clooney gets to live in Italy.

Clooney - just another vacuous, loud-mouth yank, cashing in on the misfortunes of others. Italy has been destroyed by these parasites. And Knox? Guilty. Let justice be done. Disgusting US agenda.

There are NO must-read "classics" by Americans. The morons can't even write, let alone create a "classic". Such shit could only be written by a yank.


"...inquiries have proved Vinci to have been innocent ..." Really? What inquiries? I thought Spezi and Preston had it right. Also, its news to me that the Italian Supreme Court ordered Spezi to be tried again. It shows how deep the problems in the justice system are in Italy, at least in regard to anything connected to the MOF cases. MS Vogt distinguishes herself yet again.

No, idiot, eyesthatsee is suggesting prostitutes do have souls....much better ones than Vogt. Or you most likely.

I take it that your reading is confined to Barbara Cartland's fine works and you've missed out on these American classics?

Catcher in the Rye, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, East
of Eden, Of Mice and Men, The Sun Also Rises, the Scarlett Letter, Farenheit 451, The Old Man
and the Sea, All the King’s Men, The Color Purple, Look Homeward, Angel, The Call of the Wild, A Tree Grows in
Brooklyn, Tender is the Night, In Cold Blood, A Streetcar Named Desire, The
Fountainhead, The Red Badge of Courage,
Little Women, The Caine Mutiny, Uncle
Tom’s Cabin, The Raven, Moby Dick, etc.

LOL.....the only people Vogt truly attracts are you nut jobs. This is amusing.
Look at all the up votes for you guilters. A sure sign the "journalist" is in your pocket.

Andrea Vogt once again proves herself to be a fan and supporter of Giuliano Mignini rather than an unbiased journalist.

"Preston then took it upon himself to look into the killings..."

After finding a personal connection to the infamous murders, a best-selling author of thrillers becomes interested in the case and starts looking into it? How unusual. Yet, Vogt implies with her wording that Preston had no business looking into an unsolved serial killing that had occurred decades before.

".. but got caught up in what authorities say was a botched attempt to derail the investigation."

Those "authorities" are Mignini and Giutarri, which Vogt fails to mention. It was these two who created the now discredited "harvesting of female organs for satanic rituals led by a sect comprised of high ranking professionals and noble families" motive behind the MofF murders. Mignini illegally held Spezi in prison for almost 4 weeks, sans a lawyer for the first 6 days. Finally, Spezi's lawyer went to a judge who ordered him to be released. Mignini also accused Mario Spezi of being the Monster of Florence. Mignini's actions were so outrageous that the Committee to Protect Journalists sent a scathing letter of protest to the President of Italy.

"Today, however, long after the book became a bestseller, inquiries have proved Vinci to have been innocent while Spezi stands accused of attempting to plant evidence to prove his baseless theory."

Vinci has never been proved innocent. Spezi stands accused by Mignini, the same man who accused him of actually being the Monster of Florence.

Mignini also accused and indicted 20 people of being in a MofF related conspiracy to conceal Francesco Narducci's murder. All charges against the 20 were later dropped.