Murder on the New Moon (A True Crime Short): The True Story of the Monster of Florence

Johnny Sharp

April 27, 2017

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IN BRIEF

Between 1968 and 1985, a serial killer stalked the hills around Florence, Italy, shooting and dismembering eight couples in dark lovers’ lanes. Despite several wrongful convictions, “Italy’s Ripper – “The Monster of Florence” – has never been caught.


Between 1968 and 1985, a monstrous serial killer stalked the picturesque Italian countryside around Florence, shooting and mutilating eight couples on moonless nights in dark lovers’ lanes. The desecration of the women’s bodies was a scene beyond the wildest imaginations of movie scriptwriters.

Murder on the New Moon tells the exceptionally bizarre and twisted tale about a city gripped by fear, dozens of suspects arrested, a string of charges and convictions followed by embarrassing acquittals and pardons, and an ever-raging whirlpool of theories, rumors and conspiracy that still divides Italians to this day. The anonymous assailant, called The Monster of Florence or Il Mostro di Firenze, has since become infamous, and the enduring mystery he has created has all the hallmarks and enduring intrigue of a modern-day European Jack the Ripper.

Most disturbingly of all, it’s just possible that he may still be at large …

The problem is that after a quarter of a century of failure, it would be a brave detective indeed who took the plunge back into the impossibly murky waters of this uniquely baffling case. The politics, egos, rivalries, conspiracy theories and other agendas that have hampered the various investigations would still overshadow any new search for the killer.

The investigation also has intriguing links to the 2008 murder of British student Meredith Kercher, for which American student Amanda Knox and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were convicted and then freed. The same Perugian judge who propagated outlandish theories of Satanic sex rituals in that case also used such ultimately baseless hypotheses to falsely accuse many prominent Italians of these serial killings, and even threatened to arrest an American writer who was planning a book on the case.

The story once more proves the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction. Indeed, the story is currently being made into a major Hollywood movie, The Monster of Florence, starring George Clooney, scheduled for a 2013 release.

Johnny Sharp is a British investigative journalist who covers music and sports. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Independent newspapers and to BBC Online. He first became interested in the Italian serial killer case while traveling in Italy in the late 1980s, and has since followed the seemingly never-ending investigation for more than 20 years.

From the best true crime authors in the business, many of whom have seen their books made into major motion pictures, comes Crimescape® — a new collection of compelling short nonfiction crime eBooks from leading independent eBook publisher RosettaBooks. Taking readers into the dark minds of criminals and the tense hunt to bring perpetrators to justice, Crimescape® authors stand apart from other true crime writers because they have personal experience in crime investigations, whether as police detectives, investigative reporters, forensics professionals or criminal psychologists. As riveting storytellers, Crimescape® writers give readers all the information they need to understand relevant clues and the interwoven influences in each criminal case.

Johnny Sharp is a British journalist who covers music, sport and true crime. He has contributed several stories about UK serial killers to Time Warner’s Crime Library and for Bizarre magazine in the UK. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Independent newspapers and to BBC Online. He first became interested in the “The Monster of Florence” case while traveling in Italy in the late 1980s, and has since followed the seemingly never-ending investigation for over 20 years.

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Foreword by Marilyn Bardsley

“Il Mostro di Firenze” is Italian for “The Monster of Florence,” and a monster he certainly is, if he is still alive. Even though he is not nearly as well known as Jack the Ripper, the Monster visited absolute mayhem upon the hill towns of Tuscany for decades, beginning in the 1960s. In a country still bound by traditional views of sex outside of marriage, lovers had to be extremely discreet about their liaisons. In rural lovers’ lanes, the Monster murdered his 16 victims. Not satisfied to merely kill the hapless lovers, he carried out shocking mutilations of the women.

Thousands of men were investigated as the murders caused a media-driven frenzy of suspicion among locals. The case exposed the Italian system of justice, which has lately come under intense criticism in the Amanda Knox prosecution, as corrupt and inept. Many men were accused of being the Monster, but their convictions were later proven wrong.

Johnny Sharp, an excellent investigative journalist, has been following this fascinating but convoluted case for more than 20 years. With his wry, understated sense of humor, he details the unsuccessful and often outlandish Italian police and judicial efforts, which frequently teetered on the absurd. Finally, Johnny Sharp, who writes for the mainstream media in Britain, thoroughly scrutinizes each of the suspects and evaluates them and the evidence against them.