Tragic Mix

Drugs, alcohol and potent medication lead to slaying

Editorial Staff
May 21, 2009

In the early hours of May 7, Robert Jonathan Hindenach, a 24-year-old from Michigan, who, police report, has suffered from manic depression and fears of persecution for years, found himself roaming the streets of Florence's Ricorboli neighborhood, near Piazzale Michelangelo, hallucinating. According to local news reports, Hindenach was under the influence of prescription psychiatric drugs, hashish and alcohol when he encountered Riccardo Nistri, 62, a retired banker, and killed him almost immediately.  The incident began after a day of visiting the city's museums with his fellow students. After dinner with the group, in Florence on a school trip, some of the students began drinking and smoking hashish in the gardens of their hotel. At about 12:45am, Hindenach, who was on medication for his psychiatric condition, left the hotel screaming, his companions said, ‘I'm going to kill myself.'  When he ran towards the Arno, his friends said, they followed him, but he seemed to think they wanted to kill him, and he tried to hide under the San Niccoló bridge. When his friends tried to reach him, they said, he fled, screaming ‘They want to kill me.' The students immediately alerted their teacher, who knew that Hindenach was on medication for mental health issues and called the police.  Apparently Hindenach wandered the San Niccoló area for about two hours. Police estimate that shortly before 3am, he found himself on via Marsuppini, where he saw Nistri emerging from his car and entering a storage unit. Nistri, his family said, who suffered from insomnia, would go to the unit late at night when he could not sleep.  The police say that apparently Hindenach attempted to enter the unit, Nistri tried to stop him, the two argued, and Hindenach grabbed a piece of glass and slashed Nistri's throat. He died almost instantly. The police pinpoint the time of Nistri death at 3:06am.  Hindenach remained in the unit with Nistri's body for the next 10 hours, during which time he tried to slash his own throat. Bleeding profusely, he lost consciousness several times. Upon waking, he later told the police, he would see Nistri's dead body and think ‘I am dreaming.'    According to the police, at around 9am, Nistri's cell phone began to ring, continuing until 1pm, when Hindenach finally responded. The caller was Nistri's son. The student, police say, told him in English: ‘I killed him.' A few minutes later, when, dressed only in boxer shorts and covered in his own blood, he left the storage unit, a passerby noticed him and called the police. When the police arrived, they found him just a few metres away, in a confused state, and he confessed to the murder immediately.  Hindenach was taken into police custody and interrogated. Days later, he told the police, ‘I know that I will have to pay for what I did, and I am ready to do it.' Currently being held in isolation in Florence's Sollicciano prison, police say, Hindenach remains convinced, however, that Nistri would have killed him.  

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