Author(s): Introna F, De Donno A, Santoro V, Corrado S, Romano V,
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Abstract Two young children, respectively 11 and 13 years old, originally from a small town of Southern Italy, were missing on 5 June 2006 (06:30 p.m.). Soon after their disappearance, the search for the missing children began. Broadcasters promptly transmitted a description of the missing children, pushing the entire community to assist in the search and safe recovery of the children. However, every effort was in vain, and the search went on for more than 1 year. During the missing-child search, the investigators collected enough evidence against the father, who was arrested 17 months after the children's disappearance. He was indicted for kidnapping, homicide and concealment of the two bodies. He never confessed to the crimes and claimed to be innocent. Three months after the conviction, a fireman found the two corpses in a subterranean, dry cistern next to a well over 20 m deep. The bodies were well preserved, almost mummified, with only few body-parts skeletonised. Based on dental records, they were identified as those of the two children, who had gone missing 1.5 years before. Signs of a very low insect activity were present, reasonably consistent with a rapid skin dehydration. The autopsy showed no signs of defence injuries or ligature consistent with strangulation or captivation, except for fractures of the axial skeleton at a number of points consistent with a fall from a low-medium height. The body of the elder brother presented major injuries with signs of recent haemorrhages and gut content analysis consistent with the last meal, which provided enough evidence to ascertain a very short survival time. The younger child showed minor injuries, signs of old haemorrhages and gastric- and intestine-emptying time consistent with a longer survival time of approximately 3-4 days, spent alone in the dark and cold cistern. A long post-mortem interval (PMI) of approximately 20 months was estimated, mainly from the pattern of insect succession. Based on such physical evidence, on 4 March 2008, 4 months after conviction and 40 days after the recovery of the two bodies, the father was finally released from prison and exonerated from previous indictment of homicide. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Forensic Sci Int
and referenced in Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior