The most extensive manhunt in Italy’s history. The greatest empirical lesson of scientific investigation.
“Brembate di Sopra” is a small town on the outskirts of the Alps in northern Italy.
The streets are lined with pine and poplar trees. The Alps loom blue on the horizon. There will always be a blanket of snow.
Fulvio Gambirasio and his family live in the suburbs of De Sopra. He is an architect. His wife Maura is a teacher at a nearby school. They have four children, 15-year-old Keba, 13-year-old Yara, and two small children (Natan and Gioele). happy life
Friday, November 26, 2010.
The time is 5.15 pm.
Yara, the second child, got off to go to her gymnasium, not far away. It is less than half a kilometer there. The gymnasium is adjacent to the sports complex in the city. There Yara is learning rhythmic dance which is similar to gymnastics. She doesn’t have a class today, but her instructor has a stereo to give. Her intention is to practice for a while.
“Mommy, I’m coming down…” Yara called out and walked away.
It’s 7:00 p.m.
Yara has not returned till now. It’s cold outside and wet with snow.
Mr. Fulvio felt slightly worried.
Normally you don’t have to wait that long. He told his wife to call her mobile.
At 7.11 Maura called her daughter’s phone.
The call went straight to voicemail and the cell phone was switched off.
After growing concern, they called the police.
The call went to the public prosecutor’s office in Bergamo, 11 kilometers from De Sopro. Magistrate on duty Leticia Riggeri attended the call.
Riggeri, 45, is a former police officer and a magistrate for 15 years.
They left each team of State Police and Military Police there.
The police reached the spot and started preliminary investigation.
The gymnasium instructor was questioned first.
She testified that Yara had come to see her and left after a short practice.
A massive search was then launched in that part of the city.
Some people saw Yara walking, but no one paid any attention.
A man testified that he saw her standing near a car talking to two people. But I don’t know who it is.
A search of several hours earlier yielded no promising results.
The police immediately checked the call list of Yara’s mobile phone. The last thing left is a text message. A friend of hers sent that message to Martina. The message said see you on Sunday morning at 8.00 am. no more.
Fulviano was also worried about what had happened to their daughter.
At Riggeri’s behest, the dog squad immediately arrived at De Sopra. It had trained dogs of a special breed. The dogs that came out of the gymnasium did not run in the direction of Yara’s house, but in the opposite direction. That way was towards a village called Mapello. The dogs that ran for a short distance did not go any further. Even after trying it more than once, the result was the same.
Police checked Yara’s mobile location. At 6.49pm, it was at the tower location on the Mapello side. Then switched off.
After all the investigation, no information about Yara was found.
Riggeri took full charge of the investigation.
They decided to start with Yara’s family. Everyone had good things to say about Fulviano and his family. A very normal family. Same with Yara. A normal girl with nothing special. He does not go anywhere far away from home.
On November 26, Riggeri decided to check all the calls that went through the Mapella tower. It was hard work. There were calls from about 15000 phones that day. It is not easy to find the owners of all of them. But they decided to leak all the suspicious on these phones.
Within a few days they had picked up an Arabic conversation. This is how it was translated.
“Allah forgive me.. I didn’t mean to kill her..!”
The investigating team soon identified the owner of the call.
It was a Moroccan named Mohammed Fikri. He has been there for a while on a construction job in Mapello, the day Yara went missing.
Riggeri ordered to arrest him immediately.
He had already left Italy when the police arrived. He was going to Morocco on a cargo boat then.
On December 4, the Italian Navy intercepted the boat and arrested Mohammad Fakhri and brought him to Italy.
The incident became big news in the Italian media.
She appreciated the police for arresting the accused very skillfully.
He kept saying that he had not committed any crime and was innocent. No one was told on the phone that he had killed anyone. He asked on what evidence he was arrested.
Police intercepted his phone conversation in Arabic.
Fakhri passed away.
It was a bad word in Arabic.
The translator made a mistake.
The police investigated the matter and confirmed it.
Muhammad Fakhri was released.
With that, criticism began to rise against Riggeri.
Mostly it was wrong to let him go without further investigation.
With this incident, the disappearance of Yara Gambirazio attracted widespread media attention in Italy. Reporters swarmed around Yara’s house with television cameras and microphones. The family could not even come or go outside. They often closed the windows and doors and huddled inside. With the loss of their daughter, their lives became miserable. But there was no hope that she would ever return.
26 February 2011.
It has been exactly three months since Yara disappeared.
A middle-aged man named Ilario Scotti is trying to fly his remote control plane. He made it. Doubtful that it would be successful, Scotty decided to experiment with a little more space.
His place of residence is a field on the outskirts of the town of D’Isola. Now the grass is overgrown and barren. In the afternoon he stopped near that field and started flying his plane.
Not as he intended but it flew..
He turned around and went to the grass in the field and fell on his nose.
Scotty walked over there after spreading the grass.
That’s when he saw a fruit lying among the grass. Even though he didn’t pay much attention, he couldn’t help but notice two black shoes lying next to him. Shoes weren’t the only thing there.
It was the remains of a dead body. He immediately informed the police.
Leticia Riggeri was out with her daughter. The phone kept ringing while returning home.
They touched the car side and picked up the phone.
“Madam we have got a body. Come immediately.” The call was from the Colonel of the investigation team.
Riggeri returned to d’Isola immediately after bringing his daughter home.
It is about 10 km away from Yara’s residence D Sopra.
Riggeri arrives at the scene.
They were carrying some photos of Yara.
Worn pants lying on the ground, black overcoat with no major injuries, black gloves, not too worn underwear, shoes, and a body in a very worn condition. This was the crime scene.
The same overcoat seen in the photo in his hand. It was not difficult for Riggeri to realize that it was Yara’s body.
Near the body, Yara’s iPod, room key, SIM card and her phone’s battery were also found, but the phone was nowhere to be found.
The autopsy (post-mortem) was conducted by Cristina Cattaneo, Italy’s most famous forensic pathologist. Dr. Christina’s lab had special systems for collecting accurate data from decaying remains.
The first step was to take a CAT (Computerised Auxiliary Tomography) scan of the body. A complete 3D model of the body was created on the computer using special software. This was effective in getting accurate information about the injuries that were present on that body.
About 10 wounds were inflicted on the body with a sharp knife. The wounds were on the arms, legs, buttocks, neck and chest. Three small cuts on the face and a blow wound on the back of the head were also seen. But none of these were fatal enough to cause death.
The intention may have been to torture the victim as much as possible. The victim bled to death from these wounds while being neglected. There was no rape.
Slight traces of lime and jute were found on the body. This indicated the possibility that the victim may have been tortured near some construction site.
Dr. Christina’s challenge was to find the DNA sample of the murderer from the body or clothes.
It was not found anywhere in Yara’s body.
The link between the victim and the murderer is the victim’s clothing.
It will have a touch of both. So the most likely DNA sample of the murderer is from the clothes.
The forensic team prepared an elaborate system for that.
Turn the garment into a large grid. In the form of numbers along and letters across. …31G/1, 31G/2…. So they went to 31G/20 to find a male DNA. It came from Yara’s underwear.
After a long search, the investigation team was happy to find a clue.
It was compared with the information held by the Crime Records Bureau. The result was disappointment, and it did not agree with anyone.
Riggery and his team realized that they were looking for a complete stranger.
They gave him a name: Ignoto-1.
With the help of American forensic experts, they studied the genetic characteristics of the unknown man. This was the information found in it.
He has gray eyes!
Riggeri and his team had a mountain of work to complete. Somewhere among the thousands of inhabitants of this valley of the Alps lurks the unknown killer.
He has to be found.
Riggeri turned his team in two.
The first team is tasked with collecting DNA samples from Yara’s family, friends, members of the gymnasium, and anyone who might come in contact with her. Samples are collected from people’s saliva. For that purpose, the police team entered houses, institutions and roads.
The mission of the second team was to collect the details of all the mobile numbers that came or went from D’Sopra town to D’Isola town on the day of Yara’s disappearance, November 26, 2010. The owners of every mobile phone found in this way had to provide their DNA sample to the police.
This was a very man- and financial-intensive task. Only a few DNA samples can be tested and the results can be verified with more than six hours of labor. Things move at breakneck speed. But the anxious media and the people did not have much patience. They were criticizing the investigation team.
Yara’s funeral was held in May 2011.
The ceremony was held in the spacious hall of Sports Club, D Sopro. Many people participate in it. The message of the Italian President was read at the ceremony. Riggeri and his team were there to witness the ceremony.
While the ceremonies were going on inside, the police were continuing to collect DNA samples on the road outside.
Despite all this, they did not find any clues that shed light on Ignoto-1.
Killers usually find secret places they are familiar with to conceal or hide the body of their murdered victim. Leticia Riggeri also knows this principle. Therefore, they speculated that the killer could be someone who has good knowledge of the area where Yara’s body was found. They did an extensive research on that area.
There was a night club called “Sabbie Mobili” = (Quicksand) in that area. A place where many people come to drink and have fun. The investigation team reached the club and sought information. It is more crowded on Fridays and Saturdays. (Yara went missing on a Friday). Sabi Mobili Club area is full of beatings and noise. They asked for information about people coming and going to the club.
Only members had access there. You will be allowed inside only if you show your membership card. This information made the work of the investigation team easier. They asked all the club members to give a DNA sample. Hundreds of samples were collected for testing.
Within days, Riggeri received the information he had been eagerly waiting for. A DNA sample shows a perfect match with that of Ignoto-1..! The investigation team was excited. They have been working tirelessly for many months for this discovery.
That was just the beginning of this case. The end that no one expected happened in the end.
Damiano Guerinoni (Damiano Guerinoni). That was the name of the owner of that DNA sample. They soon found him. Soon he returned disappointed. Because he was in South America before and after Yara’s disappearance. His travel documents proved it.
How does this happen? DNA results are infallible. Damiano or anyone related to him by blood. Aturap. It is not difficult to find it. Riggeri and his team are excited again. They made a model of Damiano Gerineni’s family tree. All of their DNA results were added up.
After their detailed study, a surprising discovery was made. Damiano’s mother was closely related to Yara’s family. For the past ten years, they used to go to Yara’s house twice a week for household chores. He went even after Yara’s death. It has not gone recently. Since they were looking for a man, the DNA test only looked at the “Y” component. That’s why it went unnoticed.
Riggeri and his team begin monitoring Damiano’s mother, Aurora Zanni. Their phone calls were intercepted. Followed on travels. But nothing suspicious was found. Then they were interrogated. Nothing more than that. Yara’s family didn’t have a bad opinion about them either. Riggeri had to admit that their association with Yara’s house was purely coincidental.
The inability to find the suspect even after such an extensive and costly investigation put a lot of pressure on the investigation team. Yara’s mother also expressed her reaction on television. They have been waiting for their daughter’s killer for three years. We know the police are investigating but to no avail. Of course we believe in God’s justice, but we must also have human justice. Our life is only in that one hope.
With this, the media and the opposition started criticizing Leticia Riggeri. Many suggested that Riggeri did not have the skills or intelligence to investigate such a complicated case. A leader named Danielo Belotti wrote a letter to the government asking that someone better be investigated instead of this woman, causing great controversy. Despite these pressures, the government decided to place its trust in Riggeri.
The only possibility before Riggeri was the DNA similarity of Ignoto-1 and Damiano. They decided to hold on to that grip and move forward. The next step was to dig deeper into Damiano’s family tree.
It was a months-long mission. That was almost made possible by the investigative team digging through old church birth and marriage registers. They found records going back to the year 1716. It contained the information of hundreds of people.
Damiano’s great grandparents lived in a village called Gorno. A mountain range adjacent to the Alps. Its residents are out-of-towners who don’t have the hustle and bustle of the city. There are many hairpin bends to get there. A misty hillside resounding with the scent of wildflowers, the barking of dogs and the lowing of grazing cows. Riggeri’s group arrived.
Damiano’s father had already died. His brother Giuseppe Gerinoni (Giuseppe) lives in Gorno. There are many of their family members in the area. The investigation team reached Guiseppe’s house. He died in 1999. His widow and three children are now there.
Riggeri knew that things had to be done without leaking information about the investigation. They behaved there under the pretense that they had come to collect some old historical information. All that remained of Giuseppe was a driver’s license and an old postcard sent by Giuseppe. Both, however, had valuable information that Riggeri needed, a DNA sample..! The stamp on the post card was stuck with saliva. According to the Italian law at that time, the driving license had to be stamped. There was also the presence of saliva.
The DNA results underscored one thing. The father of Ignoto-1 is Giuseppe Gerinoni..!
(i.e. through the DNA of the man found at the bar it was traced back to the killer’s father)
Guiseppe had two sons and a daughter. But the DNA results were disappointing. There was no similarity between the DNA of Giuseppe’s sons and Ignoto’s DNA..!
(The name of the person who got the DNA evidence at the bar: Damiano Guerinoni, the brother of this Damiano Guerinoni’s father, Giuseppe Guerinoni, the murderer is the son of this Giuseppe Guerinoni. But he is not the two sons of the marriage.)
Riggeri felt the case was slipping away again. The only possibility that Ignoto’s father is Guiseppe is that he may have had another son, albeit out of wedlock. May be born in a relationship 30-40 years ago. The next task is to find out who the woman who had an affair with Guiseppe might be.
This was not an easy task. Finding this without hurting family ties was a challenge. As a first step, they looked for information on the birth of any orphaned children during the 1960s and 1970s. Women who became pregnant without a husband were also investigated.
The result was disappointment.
Divorce was legalized in Italy only in 1970. The woman they are looking for may be married and have a family. In that case it is almost impossible to find them.
Around the same time, Yara’s parents sought the help of a private geneticist. He studied the police reports. He was not sure if Giuseppe was the father of Ignoto-1. This is because at least 15 STR (Short Tandem Repeat) regions must be compared and matched to confirm paternity. But in the tests done by the police, only 13 STR regions were compared.
He demanded that Guiseppe’s buried body be exhumed and a sample collected to confirm Ignoto-1’s paternity. After a long year of efforts, the authorities accepted the matter.
On March 7, 2013, Giuseppe’s tomb was opened and his body was exhumed. It was taken unnoticed to the forensic lab where samples were collected and immediately reburied in the grave. The test result was satisfactory. 26 STR regions are matched. That is, there is no room for doubt that the father of Ignoto-1 was Guiseppe.!
Marshal Giovanni Moserino, who was on the investigation team, had many personal connections in Gorno. He did some unofficial research with it. Through his confidential sources, Moserino leaked Giuseppe’s family life, private secrets, slanders and more.
Born in Gorno, Guiseppe moved to the village of Ponte Selva in the mid-1960s. There, he worked as a public bus driver. There were many textile mills in its vicinity. Mostly young women worked there. Workers traveled to and from the mills in public buses.
Marshal Moserino found some drivers who were working with Guiseppe at the time. He inquired of them about Guiseppe. Most people said that he was very interested in women.
At that time, every year in May, Guiseppe would go to a resort some distance away for a two-week vacation. The family was not included. The investigation team found the resort. Collected all the old records. Found old employees and collected information from them..
In June 2014, those investigations bore fruit. They found the woman they were looking for. Her name was Esther Asrufi.
Esther was born and raised in Ponte Selva. Guiseppe and his family lived near their house. At the age of 19, they got married and moved to the next village. But her husband was a patient. A man holding a cane. Esther went to work in a nearby textile mill. Fell in love with Giuseppe after constant bus journeys.
Riggeri and his team checked their DNA database. Actually Esther Azrufi’s DNA sample was collected in 2012. It went undetected due to an error in the lab. Asrufi’s sample was then compared not with Ignoto-1 but with Yara’s. If it wasn’t for that one mistake, Riggeri and his team would probably have been here 2 years ago.
The DNA test confirmed that Asrufi Esther is the mother of Ignoto-1.
Asroufi and her husband moved from Ponte Selva in 1970. They gave birth to twins that same year. A boy and a girl. The boy’s name is Massimo. He is now 42 years old. Married and lives in Mapello with his wife and children.
The last signal of Yara’s mobile phone was received in Mapello on November 26, 2011. Riggeri was determined that there was no more time to waste. Before Massimo can be arrested, he must prove himself to be Ignoto-1. The test should be conducted in such a way that he does not feel any doubt, otherwise he is likely to be passed.
(To understand the relationship in this complicated case, if we say in English : The criminal is the son of the father’s brother who had an illicit relationship with the person who showed positive in the DNA test at the bar.)
The investigative team surreptitiously watched Massimo. He does construction work. Coming and going in a small truck. Always come home in the evening. He spends the rest of his time with his wife and children. A loving family man.
Massimo Bosetti returns to his car after going out with his family on Sunday. He saw the police on the way and stopped the car. Police are using breathalyzers to catch drunk drivers. A policeman approaches Massimo and tells him to blow into the analyzer.
He laughed.. “I don’t drink…”
“You have to blow sir…” said the policeman. Massimo blew.
But the breathalyzer was faulty. Nothing was found in it. Apologizing, the policeman took out another analyzer and handed it to Massimo. He blew again. The result was negative. “Sorry sir.. you can go..” the policeman said humbly.
As Massimo’s car drove away, the policeman ran into a car parked some distance away with two breathalyzers. Riggeri and his team were in it. It was a test drama they organized to collect Massimo’s DNA sample. The samples immediately went to the lab. The result came at 2 pm. Ignoto-1, Massimo Bossetti himself..! The probability that Ignoto 1 and Massimo Bossetti are not the same person is 2 x 10 -27 . (i.e. only one in 200000000000000000000000000 people will have this DNA)
The next morning. A police team led by Colonel LoRusso waited a short distance from Massimo’s house without attracting anyone’s attention. Moments later Massimo drove by in his truck. The police followed him. Massimo stopped the truck at a construction site a few kilometers away. After parking the vehicle, he went upstairs to work.
The police team is waiting for Riggeri’s order. Colonel LoRusso was providing real-time information. There was a concern that Massimo would jump and kill himself if he saw the police coming to arrest him. In any case, Riggeri suggested that he be arrested.
Police stationed around the building. And another gang to catch Massimo if he runs out. Those working on the building noticed a group of armed men surrounding them. They looked around anxiously. But only Massimo jumps up in panic. With that, the police moved briskly. They started climbing up through the surrounding scaffolding. Seeing this, Massimo jumped down by hanging on a rope. He jumped into the hands of the waiting police. Massimo surrendered moments later. Handcuffs fell off.
“Your name?” Colonel Lorusso asked.
“Massimo Bossetti…” he said calmly. A thin and short person. He had bright gray eyes.
The news spread throughout Italy in seconds, and the media rushed to the spot. But Riggeri was calm. They had a call to make, Yara’s mother. Finally he has done it. It was for this moment that he worked like a penance for years. In the briefest of words, they informed Yara’s family that Ignoto-1 had been arrested.
Massimo was interrogated by the police. Under Italian law, a suspect has the right to remain silent when questioned by the police. He did just that. However, the police collected circumstantial evidence. A perusal of his internet searches made one thing clear. He mostly saw pictures of teenage girls. Although calm on the outside, the investigators were convinced that he was hiding a ferocious beast inside. He never revealed how Yara was kidnapped and killed.
The family engaged the best lawyers for him. They argued that apart from DNA evidence, no other evidence could be produced against the accused. They asked how a person can become a murderer just because someone’s DNA is found.
After a long trial, in 2015 the court sentenced Massimo Bossetti to life in prison without parole.
Footnote: During the investigation of this case, the police got many strange information.
One of them was that the three children of the marriage between Esther and Giovanni Bossetti were not his. Esther still claimed that she had never cheated on her husband. (!!!??)