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Showing posts with label murder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label murder. Show all posts

Saturday, December 17, 2022

True Crime Tales with Cosette | Murder on Christmas Eve

December 17, 2022 0 Comments

 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.

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to True Crime Tales with Cosette YouTube channel to watch this, and more true crime videos. 

Talk to you soon!


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

True Crime Tales with Cosette | The mysterious death of Kevin Camilleri

November 29, 2022 1 Comments

Hello everyone!

Today I will look at another true crime tale from Malta. So sit back as I recount the story of the mysterious death of Kevin Camilleri.

Kevin Camilleri was a 31-year-old man living with his mother in an apartment in Qormi when he was killed by a homemade bomb. But one question persists; Was Kevin murdered or did he make the bomb himself? Was his death a tragic accident?

I couldn't find much information about this case, other than a small mention in the book Delitti f'Malta by Edward Attard and one news article, so that is the main source for this article. You can find the article, in Maltese, linked below.

Triq il-Fontanier, Qormi

Police outside the victim's apartment building at Triq il-Fontanier, Qormi

So, who was Kevin Camilleri?

Kevin was born in the late 1960s. Very little seems to be known about his life before the incident other than, his criminal history. In fact, Camilleri was a suspect in the murder of Joe Borg, a night watchman, who was shot dead by three armed thieves on the 29th of September, 1990, outside a pasta factory in Qormi.

Camilleri was thoroughly investigated and interrogated at length as a suspect but never charged. Additionally, in May of 1991, he was arrested for theft and served a 3-year prison sentence.

a photo of Kevin Camilleri
Kevin Camilleri

The police revealed that until a short while before the explosion which killed him, Camilleri was with two friends; Alex Mallia, known as "the Shocks", and Ian Galdes known as "the Mosquito". Mallia was 21 years old at the time, while Galdes was around 16 years old.

That evening, they hang out near the boċċi pitch, located near Camilleri's apartment. At around 11.15pm on Sunday, the 6th of June, Mallia left his friends and went home, while Camilleri and Galdes went back to the victim's apartment. The victim lived with his 50-year-old mother Frances, in Flat 1, Block XIV, Triq il-Fontanier, Qormi. That night his mother went to sleep a little before 11:30pm, and she recalls that her son had been home since 10:00pm, playing chess with his friend Mallia.

The incident

Frances was woken up by the loud sound of an explosion at around 1:50am, and as she woke up, she sensed a burning smell. She thought the television in Kevin's room had exploded.

When she went to see what had occurred, she saw her son coming out of his room. All she heard him say was "Ajma, ajma, ajma" which is a Maltese word used to express pain. Then, he collapsed on the ground, face up. Shocked, Frances called her daughter Antoinette, who was 26 years old and also lived in Qormi with her partner. She told her that Kevin's television had exploded and that Kevin had been injured.

Antoinette immediately informed her partner, Simon Spiteri, who was 30 years old, and they both went to her mother's apartment. When they arrived, they found Kevin lying on the floor, bloody. Simon approached Kevin to see if he was still breathing, but there was no sign of life. 

Soon after, an ambulance arrived at the scene. Dr Antonella Mizzi from the Qormi Health Center declared him dead at the scene. The family was told that nothing could have been done to increase Kevin's chance of survival.

The room where Kevin Camilleri slept was right next to the street, with the window being less than a meter high from ground level. It's easy for someone to place something on the windowsill. Since it was at street level, the window had an iron grill for security reasons. It is unknown why the other two windows, on the same level, facing the same street, did not have the same security iron grill.

photo showing Kevin's window after the explosion
In this crime scene photo, you can see the window with the iron grill.

The investigation

The Magistrate, Dr Abigail Lofaro, ordered an inquiry into the incident. She appointed several experts, including the building's architect Richard Aquilina, Forensic Doctor Mario Scerri, a military officer trained in dealing with explosives named Albert Camilleri, and several crime scene investigators.

Several other police officers attended the crime scene, including the two Commissioners, George Grech and John Rizzo, Superintendent Daniel Gatt and two Inspectors named David Saliba and Mario Bonnici.

The investigation quickly determined that the explosive was a pipe bomb. It caused extensive damage to Kevin's bedroom and some minor structural damage to the apartment. The force of the blast also shattered his neighbours' windows and the windows of two cars parked outside.

a pipe bomb
This is what a pipe bomb looks like.

According to his autopsy, Kevin had extensive burns to his chest and abdomen as well as, a fracture in the palm of his hand and elbow. This suggested that he was looking in the direction of the explosion. He was awake and standing up at the time of the blast. The blast was about 50 centimetres away from him based on his injuries. He was not holding the device as it would have blown his hand off.

The investigation revealed that although Kevin was found wearing only underpants when the bomb exploded, he had not yet entered the bed but was awake and standing. In fact, the forensic examinations carried out on the scene, indicate that if Camilleri had been in bed when the bomb exploded, he would have suffered only serious injuries, so much so that the bed had very little damage.

With the explosion, Camilleri turned around and walked in the direction of his mother's bedroom. But he only got to the bathroom, where blood splatter was found on the wall. The blood splatter indicated that Kevin tried to hold on to the wall or turn on the light.

He died a few minutes after the bomb went off.

There are two main theories about what might have happened to Kevin Camilleri. The first theory is that Kevin made the bomb himself and his death was an accident. The second theory suggests that someone else planted the bomb, and Kevin was murdered. Both theories are plausible, as Kevin's window was right next to the sidewalk, on the first floor.

Let's elaborate more on these two possible theories...

the window wher the bomb was placed
The windowsill where the bomb exploded.

The first theory is that Kevin made the bomb himself.

When interviewed, Antoinette and her partner Simon told police that they had noticed several pieces of metal on Kevin's windowsill, including an object that resembled a car silencer pipe.

The first time Simon saw this suspicious object was on Friday, the 4th of June (three days before the explosion) at around 9:00am when he was passing by the apartment. Spiteri described the object as a pipe about 14 centimetres long with a diameter of no more than 8 centimetres. This pipe had two cross-shaped bolts and a thinner pipe that had matches tied with thread or string. According to Simon, the matches were burnt. That evening, he went back to talk to Kevin, but the suspicious object was no longer there.

Antoinette stated that a day later, on Saturday, the 5th of June, sometime between 8:00am and 9:00am, she also saw a similar object. As she entered her mother's apartment, Antoinette told Kevin, who was leaving at the time, about the suspicious object, but Kevin did not want to talk, and he left home without investigating what his sister had seen. Sunday morning Antoinette went back to her mother's, this time, the mysterious object was not there.

On the night of the explosion, Antoinette noticed a piece of iron on the ground that resembled part of the suspicious object she had seen on her brother's windowsill at the scene of the tragedy. She immediately informed one of the Crime Scene Officers.

When the investigators asked Antoinette and Simon to draw the object they had seen on Kevin's windowsill, it almost perfectly matched the bomb container examined by the Court's experts.

According to the police, if Kevin made the bomb himself, he had to have placed it on the windowsill and lit the fuse. Then, he would have had 40 seconds to close his window shutter (that opens inwards) and move away. Investigators concluded that this was possible within that time frame.

It's also possible he was not fully aware when he did this, as his autopsy revealed that he had smoked marijuana shortly before his death. So, if he did make the bomb, he likely lit the fuse by mistake when intoxicated and quickly put it on his windowsill, shut the window and took cover.

Further increasing the likelihood of this theory is that the pipe bomb or "mysterious object" was discovered several times before. If someone else planted the bomb, why would they keep taking the risk?

Even if this was an accident, the mystery still remains. Even if Kevin made the bomb himself, his death was not a suicide, so what was he planning to do with a bomb?

Now let's examine the second theory... 

A third person planted the bomb that killed Kevin.

This seems to be the theory favoured by the police, as this mysterious death is listed as an unsolved murder, not an accident. The murder theory is supported by two points: the fact that it would be easy to place an explosive on the windowsill. And that friends and family of the deceased also provided a few possible motives.

Police questioned Kevin's friends, Alex Mallia and Ian Galdes, who were hanging out with the victim hours before his death. They stated that in 1997 they were once followed by a Fiat. Kevin told them that he recognized the car as belonging to relatives of Joe Borg and that he recognized them because they had followed him before. Joe's family still believed Kevin to be responsible for the murder despite the police investigation clearing him.

Police managed to track down the owner of the car. Although the person confessed to stalking Kevin, he denied killing him. Joe's relative also had an alibi for the night of the incident.

Frances Camilleri, Kevin's mother, believes Kevin was murdered and that she may have been the intended target as she made some enemies at her workplace. She had reported some colleagues for stealing from their workplace.

Simon also told the investigators that Kevin used to be friends with a man named George, who allegedly was a voyeur. Simon claims that this man enjoyed watching Kevin engage in sexual activity with his wife until a fight ended their friendship three years before the incident. 

the victim's body being removed from the scene by the police

This photo shows the victim's body being removed from the scene by the police.

The aftermath

Ian Galdes, Kevin's friend and the last person to see him alive, was sentenced to 7 years in prison on the 12th of November 2001. He was involved in a hold-up where a police officer named Roger Debattista was murdered. Due to his young age (on that day, Galdes was 19) and the fact that he did not fire the shots that killed Debattista, he was released early on the 3rd of November 2006. On the 1st of March 2007, Galdes, then 24, was found dead in his room by his brother at his mother's residence in Triq San Ġużepp, Qormi. The cause of death was a heroin overdose.

Although the police still consider this case an "unsolved murder", it is still unclear whether the bomb was planted by someone who wanted to kill Camilleri or an experiment of Camilleri himself that went wrong. 

Did Kevin Camilleri kill himself by mistake or was he really killed by someone else? What do you believe happened to Kevin? Leave a comment with your theories.

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to True Crime Tales with Cosette YouTube channel. 

Talk to you soon!


Friday, November 11, 2022

True Crime Tales with Cosette | The Maltese Serial Killer: Salvatore Mangion

November 11, 2022 0 Comments

Hello everyone. Welcome back to True Crime Tales with Cosette. And if you are new to this channel; Welcome! 

Today I will recount another true crime tale from Malta. This is the story of Salvatore Mangion: The first Maltese serial killer

Born in Żejtun, in 1965, Salvatore known as Silvio Mangion, and also by his alias "Kalanġ", was an unemployed schizophrenic who had depressive episodes. He was also addicted to alcohol and prescription medication. At the time of the murders, however, it was determined that he was fully aware of his actions and did them of his own volition, the motive always being robbery.

Salvatore Mangion
Salvatore Mangion

The murder of Rozina Zammit

On the 9th of February 1984, the body of 54-year-old Rozina Zammit was found at her home in Triq Hlantun, Safi. The motive appeared to be robbery, as a small sum of 200 Maltese Liri (the equivalent of around 466 Euros) was found to be stolen from her home.

Rozina was unmarried and did not have any children. She lived alone, in the same house where she grew up. The murder of Rozina was gruesome. Zammit had sustained 37 stab wounds to her neck, chest, and abdomen. She was found dead in her bedroom at around 9.45 a.m. when her nephew's wife was called. That morning, Rozina failed to visit a woman's house where she used to do some chores. 

There was no sign of forced entry into Rozina's home or any great disturbance. However, the two wardrobes were found open, and some bags were on the floor. Therefore, the police concluded that the motive was likely robbery. The police speculated that there had probably been some theft of money and gold from the victim's house. The murder of Rozina Zammit remained unsolved for over two decades.

Rozina Zammit's home after the murder
Police officers and forensic team in front of Rozina Zammit's home, after the murder.

The murder of Maria Stella Magrin

Maria Stella Magrin, a 68-year-old woman from Cospicua, was found dead in her residence in Triq Erin Serracino Inglott, on the 30th of October 1986. She lived only a few doors down from former President Ugo Mifsud Bonnici. Like Rozina's, her murder was also a gruesome one. In fact, she sustained 13 stab wounds to her upper back and neck. Maria Stella lived alone, and it was the neighbours who alerted the police after they heard moaning. 

Since the police knocked on the door and the elderly woman did not answer, they had to force open the front door. The woman, 68, was found dead in a pool of blood. It was difficult for the police to determine what could have been stolen from this woman's house because she lived in a somewhat messy place. This was another case that remained unsolved for a very long time.

Stella Magrin's home after the murder
Police officers and forensic team in front of Stella Magrin's home, after the murder.

The murder of Francesco "Frenc" Saverio Cassar

Francesco Cassar, a 74-year-old man from Żejtun was stabbed in the chest on Sunday the 16th of August 1998, when someone tried to rob his house in Triq ix-Xejba, in Żejtun. Guzeppa, Frenc's sister, who was there that day was also assaulted and stabbed. Unfortunately, Frenc died thirteen hours after he was admitted to the hospital. Guzeppa survived the incident and was able to identify her brother's murderer. The woman said that their next-door neighbour, a certain Silvio Mangion had entered their home and then started waving a bread knife around. The same knife was later found at the scene of the crime. According to this woman, her brother was stabbed when he tried to defend her. She also said that some three weeks before, the same man had tried to enter the house, but she failed to report the incident to the police.

Therefore, on the 17th of August 1998, Mangion was brought before the Court accused of murder and attempted murder, as well as attempted robbery because the motive of this crime was theft. Police investigators indicated they had linked Mangion to the murder after they searched extensively inside a water reservoir in Żejtun where it was believed that the alleged murderer had thrown his weapon. 

On that fatal day in 1998, Mangion decided to rob his neighbours: 71-year-old Guzeppa and 75-year-old Francesco Saverio Cassar. After he swallowed some pills and drank half a bottle of whisky to pluck up courage, he rang the Cassars' doorbell, surprising Guzeppa with a knife when she opened the door. He stabbed her in the stomach and right arm, but she managed to fight back, calling upon her brother for help. Mangion saw Francesco and lunged at him, fatally stabbing him in the chest. Seeing Cassar lying bleeding on the ground and his T-shirt covered in blood frightened him, so he fled, disposing of his knife and T-shirt in a reservoir at Triq il-President Anton Buttigieg (in the area of ​​Bir-id-Deheb).

During the compilation of the witnesses of this case, on the 28th of August 1998, his defence lawyer asked the Court to appoint experts to report on the mental state of the accused because he was previously admitted to the mental hospital. The accused was remanded into custody. The Court said he was denied bail as there was a possibility that he might leave the islands or repeat the crimes he stood accused of.

The courthouse in Valletta
The Court of Justice Building in Valletta (Courthouse)

Imprisonment and confessions

After the Cassar murder, Mangion was arrested and soon indicted. During a hearing, on the 6th of November 2002, jurors determined that he was sane at the time of the murder, and on the 5th of January 2004, at the beginning of his jury trial, he pleaded guilty. Mangion was given a 21-year sentence for killing Frenc and attempting to kill Guzeppa.

The other murders remained a mystery until a year after Mangion's conviction when he implicated himself. In May of 2005 while he was under psychiatric care and serving a sentence for homicide Mangion, boasted about the killings with several inmates at Corradino prison, one of them being Steven Spiteri. Steven later reported those claims to the police, and Mangion was questioned on their validity, to which he confessed. He signed two detailed police statements in the space of three days. Later, the man claimed he had only signed a confession because a police inspector promised him 10 packets of cigarettes and a plate of eggs and chips. 

The police revealed in court that Silvio Mangion confessed in prison that he had killed Rozina Zammit, he was only 19 years old at the time. Inspector Chris Pullicino explained that Mangion admitted that on the day of the murder, the 8th of February 1984, he had followed Rozina on her way back from the 7:00pm Mass and knocked on the door of her residence. As soon as she opened the door, he attacked her, and she started shouting. At this point, he stabbed her in the chest and neck and headed towards the bedroom and asked her for money. Unfortunately, Rozina Zammit died after a while as a consequence of the grievous injuries. When he realized that she had died from her injuries, Mangion fled the scene.

After interrogating Mangion, the police discovered that three persons were involved in Stella Magrin's murder. Mangion was 21 when the murder was committed and used to be in the company of two other suspects, Leli Spiteri and his nephew Oswald Spiteri, who are both dead. All three knew the victim. The accused and Oswald Spiteri had both admitted their involvement in the murder when arrested some 20 years after. Leli Spiteri died in 2004 while Oswald Spiteri committed suicide in the police lock-up during the investigations on the case. Mangion admitted he was the one who brutally murdered Magrin, the same way he killed Zammit, after stealing money from her in 1986, to prevent identification, as none of the criminals had worn masks.

Mangion was also charged with carrying an unlicensed firearm, holding the victim against her will, and the theft of less than 1000 Maltese Liri, from Zammit’s house, aggravated by violence. Mangion was asked to walk the investigators through the crime scene, explaining the layout accurately. At some point during the trial proceedings, one inspector inquired about two peculiar tattoos Mangion had on each ear: one had the letter "S", while the other had a "K". In response, the murderer joked that it stood for "serial killer". On the 23rd of June 2010, Silvio Mangion was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Rozina Zammit and was given another life sentence for the murder of Maria Magrin at a later date.

Salvatore Mangion
Salvatore Mangion

Mangion is the only known Maltese serial killer. He was convicted of killing three people during robberies between 1984 and 1998, receiving life imprisonment for his crimes. The police concluded that this is a case of a serial killer since the person was involved in three murders and attempted murders and used the same methods for the same purpose. Prosecutor Nadine Sant suggested that Mangion might be responsible for a fourth murder, however, she stopped short of giving further details. “He has tarnished our nation’s reputation,” she claimed, adding that he was even featured on murderpedia.com, a specialised website in which serial killers are listed. He is currently incarcerated at Corradino prison.

Corradino prison in Malta
Corradino Correctional Facility (Prison)

There is something I haven't told you yet. Rozina Zammit was my paternal great-aunt, my grandfather's baby sister. I did not get to meet her as she was murdered the year before I was born. She was always loved and never forgotten by the family. May she and the other victims of the Maltese serial killer Rest in Peace.

Roza Zammit

Have you heard of the Maltese serial killer before? Leave a comment and let me know.

Previous true crime case: The Murder of Rozi Camilleri

Talk to you soon.