True Crime Tales with Cosette | Murder on Christmas Eve

 Hello everyone!

Today I will look at another true crime tale from Malta. So sit back as I recount the story of an elderly woman who was brutally murdered on Christmas Eve.

The murder shocked the country, not only because the victim was an elderly woman, but because the killer had chosen Christmas Eve to commit this heinous crime. The crime was committed on the 24th of December, 1928, in the house of Grezz Attard, an elderly woman who lived alone in Triq San Mikiel, in Cospicua.

photo of a Christmas tree in the late 1920s
A photo of a Christmas tree in the late 1920s (source)

The victim was a wealthy woman, and the locals knew this about her. For this reason, the woman did not allow anyone to enter her home, except for some women to pray the rosary with her. Ġużeppi Zarb, Grezz's nephew, who had a bar in Valletta, also used to visit the house. It was Ġużeppi who was seen entering the house last on the day of the crime at around 3.30 p.m.

Every day, a few women used to go to Grezz's to pray the rosary with her. That afternoon one of the neighbours went to Grezz's house, but since it was very stormy, the woman returned home earlier than usual and left Grezz alone. This was before Grezz had a visit from her nephew, Ġużeppi Zarb.

Grezz's body was found on Christmas Day, around 10.00 a.m., when Gużeppi Zarb's son, Fredu, went to the house with some food. The boy went inside the house and found Grezz lying on the floor next to the bed with blood all over her face. The police were therefore called while the victim was taken to hospital. From the autopsy that was done, it turned out that the woman died from shock, and she also had five broken ribs.

From the first police investigation, it became known that some neighbours had seen Gużeppi Zarb entering his aunt's home and therefore, the police questioned him. In the meantime, the police learned that the victim had lent some money to Zarb. Some said that on the day of the crime, Grezz had refused to give more money to the nephew. Therefore the police concluded that this was a sufficient motive for Zarb to kill his aunt.

Although the police did not have any direct evidence to charge Zarb, he was still accused of this crime. In fact, even the compilation of witnesses had begun. Meanwhile, during this time, Ġużeppi Zarb was kept under preventive arrest in Corradino prison. During the hearing of the witnesses, more became known about the murder. A witness told the police that sometime after Ġużeppi Zarb entered the victim's home, another man was seen entering. But this important witness did not speak immediately even though she knew that Zarb was being held in custody after being accused of this murder.

Fortunately, this woman went to seek advice from her confessor, and he told her to tell the police everything. Vincenza Attard, this important witness, after going to the police; said that she had seen Giannicol Degiorgio entering Grezz Attard's house after the victim's nephew had left that house.

With this new evidence, while Degiorgio was arrested and interrogated, the police made a request to the magistrate to release Ġużeppi Zarb, who had been held for twenty-eight days under arrest, by order of the Court.

After Degiorgio's arrest, the police started looking into his past. It became known that he was a gambler and had long been planning to rob the victim's home. In fact, four months before this crime Degiorgio had sent his son to enter this woman's house. When the boy was discovered by Grezz, he could not explain his presence in her house. 

In addition to this, it was also known that sometime before the crime, Degiorgio was seen dressed as a woman near Grezz's house. When asked by the police what he was doing there wearing those clothes, Degiorgio replied that he was watching over his daughter because he didn't want her in the company of a young man he didn't like. Other evidence that incriminated

Degiorgio was the fact that he once asked the victim to go down to her basement because he said that he had dropped some spinning tops that passed through the iron grill in front of her front door. It is also worth noting that Degiorgio's nickname was "Ta' Cippitatu" which means Spinning Top's in Maltese.

With this new evidence the police accused Degiorgio and on 28 March 1930, his trial began. As a defender, he had Lawyer William Harding. It can be said that it was the clever defence of this lawyer that saved Degiorgio from the gallows. Harding managed to raise doubts among the jurors about the guilt of the accused. In fact, they came out with a verdict of guilty, 7 against 2. This means that the death penalty could not be given, so Degiorgio was sentenced to life in prison. This sentence was reduced to 16 years on the 18th of August, 1932, and was reduced even further in the following years. Degiorgio was released on the 31st of January, 1943, after only 13 years in prison. 

Do you think justice was served in this case? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Talk to you soon!



I'm a vegan with a passion for sustainability and clean, cruelty-free products. I mainly write lifestyle, wellness and self-care articles. Since I'm a true crime enthusiast, sometimes I also write about true crime and post videos on my two YouTube channels.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! If you ask a question I will answer it asap. – Cosette

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