Police in northern Italy say they have smashed a vicious gang of satanists, following the arrest this week of three men accused of ordering the murder of at least five young people in the Milan area since 1998.
Officers identified the trio as Paolo “Ozzy” Leoni, 27, the alleged charismatic leader of the group, Eros Monterosso, 27, and Marco Zampollo, 26, taking to eight the total number of alleged sect members arrested in the case that has shocked the Roman Catholic region of Lombardy.
A turning point in the investigation came when two other alleged members of the group, Andrea Volpe and a minor named only as Massimino M, turned state’s evidence, judicial sources said.
The three were arrested on Tuesday night for allegedly ordering the ritual murders of Chiara Marino, 19, and Fabio Tollis, 18, in January 1998.
Marino was stabbed to death in woodland at Somma Lombardo, northwest of Milan, while Tollis, a guitarist in Milan’s heavy metal scene, was killed because he had last-minute doubts about the “sacrifice” of Marino.
After Marino and Tollis were murdered, another sect member, Nicola Sapone, 26, supervised their burial, then danced on their graves shouting “zombies, now you are only zombies”, according to Volpe.
Mr Volpe has also given evidence about three other murders. Mariangela Pezzota, Volpe’s girlfriend, was allegedly killed by the sect on 26 January this year, while Andrea Bontade was drugged and forced to drive his car into a wall at high speed in September 1998. Andrea Ballarin was found hanged at a school in Somma Lombardo on 7 May, 2000, according to evidence from Volpe.
“She wasn’t in the sect, but we killed her because she knew everything,” La Repubblica newspaper quoted Volpe as saying.
Police believe the satanists also may have killed three friends of Sapone who died mysteriously: Antonio Lombardo, 26, who worked at a cemetery in the town of Legnano, and who set himself on fire on 14 December, 2003; Stefano Longone, who was run over by a lorry in May 1998; and Luca Colombo, the son of a cemetery florist, who was found hanged 5 May 2004.
Judge Toni Novik, the magistrate who ordered the latest arrests at the request of investigators, said it was the first instance of serial killings by satanists in Italy.
“There have never been multiple murders committed by satanic sects before … These facts are difficult to recount.”