The Beasts of Satan were a suspected satanic cult in Italy. The members of this group committed three notorious ritual murders over six years, which shocked Italy upon their discovery. The slayings were called "one of the most shocking crimes in post-war Italy" by the BBC.
Crimes and investigation
The first incident was a January 1998 double homicide that occurred in the woods near Somma Lombardo, northwest of Milan. Chiara Marino, 19, and her boyfriend Fabio Tollis, 16, were sacrificially stabbed and beaten in a drug-fuelled occult rite involving sex and heavy metal music. The couple, who had been drinking at a Milan pub, "The Midnight", which was the center of the city's metal scene, never returned home. The conclusion drawn by the authorities at the time was that they had run away together, but this explanation was not accepted by Fabio's father, Michele Tollis, who began his own investigation. Tollis discovered just how deeply they had become involved in satanism and the occult; both common themes of the black metal and death metal genres that his son and friends were interested in. Becoming convinced of a connection between satanism and their disappearance, over six years he steadily constructed a file on their activities and the bands in which they had played. When the third murder occurred, Tollis took his findings to the police, who used them to link all three murders to Andrea Volpe and the wider satanic sect.
Third murder and revelations
The third murder was committed in January 2004. Mariangela Pezzotta, the 27-year-old girlfriend of group member Andrea Volpe was first shot and later buried alive in a forest. Andrea Volpe was arrested shortly afterwards, and confessed to that crime. The police investigation of the Pezzotta murder, and interrogation of Volpe using the information provided by Tollis led to the discovery of the buried bodies of Marino and Tollis and the revelation of the sect's existence. As the investigation continued, Mario Maccione, a childhood friend of Fabio Tollis, confessed to having beaten him to death with a hammer.
Additionally sect members were accused of pushing their drummer, Andrea Bontade, to commit suicide. Authorities also investigated whether the group had any links to a possible wider network of Satanists in Italy.
On February 22, 2005 Andrea Volpe and Pietro Guerrieri were sentenced in the northern city of Busto Arsizio to 30 and 16 years respectively. Volpe, in addition to the 1998 murders, was also found guilty of the 2004 slaying of Pezzotta. In Volpe's case the sentence was a decade longer than requested by prosecutors. A third suspect, Mario Maccione, had also confessed to the murders, but was cleared due to his secondary role in the crimes.
The reactions of the victims' families to the sentencing were mixed. Michele Tollis, the father of Fabio, said "Today justice rewarded me." Lina Marino, mother of the slain Chiara, was outraged at the relatively light sentences Volpe and Guerrieri had received, due to their cooperation with prosecutors. She stated "They are murderers. It's not fair."
Five more members of the group went to trial in June 2005 and were sentenced to long prison terms in early 2006. Nicola Sapone, leader of the group and the person suspected as the mastermind behind the killings, received a life sentence. The other four, Paolo Leoni, Marco Zampollo, Eros Monterosso and Elisabetta Ballarin, received sentences between 24 and 26 years for their role in all three murders.On 2007 the Court of Appeal confirmed the life sentence for Sapone and improved the convictions for other three members of the group: Paolo Leoni passed from 26 years to a life sentence, Marco Zampollo from 26 years to 29 years and 2 months and Eros Monterosso from 24 years to 27 years and 3 months; the sentence for Elisabetta Ballarin was reduced from 24 years and 3 months to 23 years. On May 2008 the last step, Court of Cassazione, confirmed all the Appeal's decisions.
The crimes occurred against the background of growing concern in Italy that Satanism and the occult are becoming an attraction to the Italian youth. In February 2005, a Roman Catholic university connected to the Vatican began offering a two month course on diabolical possession and exorcism for priests and seminarians. In reaction to the crimes priest Don Aldo Buonaito called for death metal to be banned, saying "If music makes itself an instrument of nefarious deeds and death it should be stopped." In light of the revelations from the Beasts of Satan investigation and trial, and growing public concern, the Italian police intend to create a special unit focusing on new religious sects, particularly Satanists and other violent ritualistic groups. It would coordinate nationwide investigations into potentially dangerous new religious movements, and is planned to include psychologists and a priest who is an expert on the occult.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Satanist band members jailed for ritual killings Guardian Unlimited February 22, 2005
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Investigating the 'death metal' murders Sam Bagnall BBC News November 23, 2005
- ↑ Italian 'Beasts of Satan' jailed BBC News February 22, 2005
- ↑ Italy jails five Satanic killers BBC News February 1st, 2006
- ↑ Italy police seek 'Satan squad' Mark Duff BBC News December 11, 2006
- WorldWide Religious News on the Beasts of Satan
- Interview with Father Gabriele Amorth, the Chief Exorcist in Rome.
|This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Beasts of Satan. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.|