An Italian couple have confessed to killing four neighbors including a toddler after a long feud over noise, a prosecutor said on Thursday, resolving a gruesome murder case that has held the country in thrall.
Thirty-year-old Raffaella Castagna, her two-year-old son, her mother and a neighbor were found with their throats slit on December 11 in Castagna's apartment in the wealthy northern town of Erba. Their home had been set on fire.
The press immediately fingered Castagna's husband, a Tunisian immigrant recently freed from jail under a mass pardon, only to offer rare front-page apologies when it emerged that at the time of the murders he was on a trip to his homeland.
The vicious nature of the murders fueled talk of a vendetta linked to the Tunisian's previous conviction for drug dealing.
But earlier this week police arrested Olindo Romano and Rosa Bazzi, an apparently respectable middle-aged couple with no criminal record living in the same building. They confessed in a 10-hour interrogation and Bazzi said she killed the two-year-old, investigators said.
The neighbors had a long-running feud with the Castagnas whom they accused of being noisy, but surviving members of the Castagna family never imagined they would go so far.
Investigators said they believed the murders were premeditated.
"This is a case that has shaken the consciences of everybody, including us the magistrates," prosecutor Alessandro Maria Lodolini told a news conference. "It became a matter of honor for us to resolve it as quickly as possible and reassure public opinion," he said.
Police were eventually led to the culprits by a 60-year-old neighbor who was attacked and left for dead when he tried to help the victims. They also found blood in Romano's car.