Mario Spezi is a Florentine crime journalist who has co-written a book with Douglas Preston on the Monster of Florence. Spezi was imprisoned last month for ‘sidetracking the investigation’ of one of the most expensive, notorious criminal cases in Italian history. An independent three judge panel annulled the imprisonment and ordered his immediate release due to lack of evidence after 23 days in jail. He was set free unconditionally. Spezi has written various thrillers including Il passo dell’orco and Il violinista verde. His most recent novel Dolci Colline di Sangue has recently been published in Italian.
How did your involvement with the case of ‘The Monster of Florence’ all start?
It was in June 1981 and I remember the day vividly. It was a Sunday and although I didn’t have to work one of my colleagues asked me to substitute for him because he had an appointment. ‘Nothing ever happens in Florence on a Sunday!’ he said- and usually, it doesn’t. But that was the day that two young people were found murdered just outside Florence. It wasn’t the first crime carried out by Il Mostro, there’d been another murder seven years earlier, with similar characteristics - the same pistol and bullets were used. So, we decided to call the murderer Il Mostro di Firenze - ‘the Monster of Florence’.
Shortly after that murder, a person was arrested. I claimed all along that he was innocent. Then, the following October, there was another murder, with the same hallmarks, and so the convicted man was set free. This happened three times. And each time I stated that the person they had arrested was innocent. So I became, as it were, ‘the Monster’!
Why did you think he was innocent?
Here in Florence at that time, there was a great deal of ignorance about what constitutes a serial killer. The police arrested violent, sex-obsessed men but it was obvious to me, having talked to a psychological profiler about the nature of the attacks and the fact that the female victims were never sexually raped, that this murderer was impotent.