On 6 May 1971 the (alleged) kidnapping and murder of the girl in Genoa. There are still many doubts.

Genova, Italy: 49 years have passed since the afternoon of Thursday, May 6th, 1971.

At 5 pm Milena Sutter leaves the Swiss School in Peschiera Street, in Genoa (Italy). And it vanishes into thin air.

The body of the girl, 13 years old, daughter of a well-known wax business owner, is found 15 days later. It is another Thursday, Ascension Day: May, 20th.

Milena, lifeless, floats a few hundred meters from the beach of Priaruggia, about 6 km away from the Ancient Port of the Liguria capital.

Suspected, accused, acquitted in 1973 and then convicted in 1975 is only one young man: Lorenzo Bozano, 25 years old.

Bozano will move on to the news – and now to the civil history of Italy – as the “Biondino della Spider Rossa”.

We can translate that Italian nickname (“Il Biondino della Spider Rossa”) literallty: “The blond thin man with the red sports car”.

He was not blond, nor skinny.

On this case, with Laura Baccaro I wrote a book two years ago: “The Biondino della Spider Rossa. Crimine, giustizia e media”.

It is a book resulting from university research – still in progress – on how the media dealt with the story of Milena Sutter. And the figure of Lorenzo Bozano.

Milena-Sutter-kidnapping-many-doubts-about-kdnapper-phone-calls-blog-IlBiondino.com-Corte&Media Agency - Verona - Italy

Milena Sutter: a research that has lasted ten years

Laura Baccaro, forensic psychologist and criminologist, and I still have a lot to study on the story of the student of the Swiss School.

And we still have a number of hypotheses to formulate about what really happened to Milena Sutter.

The research was born by chance. I have never been interested in crime news as a professional journalist.

I have read the reports of important cases – such as Wilma Montesi’s (in some ways similar, 1953, Rome) – but I had never written about criminal cases.

Since the beginning of my career as a journalist, in 1978, I have dealt with foreign affairs, my passion at that time.

One spring morning, in 2010, a graduating student of mine – Laura Leonesio – asked me for a thesis.

Since 2003 I have been teaching Intercultural Journalism and Multimedia at the University of Verona.

Studying the media and the relationship with immigration and cultural diversity has been at the center of my interests since 1998.

Laura Leonesio, passionate about crimes, asked me for a degree thesis with a crime report at the center. I refused: crime news just wasn’t in my study interests.

The good undergraduate insisted. I promised to think about it.

It was thinking about what topic to propose, which was reconciled with my interests, that the “blond of the red spider” came to mind. He was neither blond nor skinny,
so that thing intrigued me.

Lorenzo Bozano was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Milena Sutter, a 13 years old girl who vanished from the Swiss School of Genoa in May 1971

Genoa, the Sutter case and the guilty party

Genoa has been in my heart for many years because I spent some summers there during high school.

I still remember reading the “Bozano memorial” on the Italian magazine “Gente”, which my mother Maria used to buy.

That tangle of memories and that story linked to Genoa had remained well impressed on me.

That “blond” who was dark and sturdy brown with a physical constitution. All of this turned on a light.

I thought of proposing to Laura Leonesio the thesis on how the Genoa’s newspapers had treated the figure of Lorenzo Bozano.

The “Sutter Case” – for reasons that I can understand, but I do not agree with – immediately became the “Bozano Case”, on that newspapers.

This led to not studying the victim as it was to be studied.

As David Canter, father of Investigative Psychology whom I interviewed in December 2011 at the University of Huddersfield, teaches, the victim reflects the profile of the offender.

If we don’t study the victim, if we don’t analyze it from the victimology point of view, we risk not understanding what really happened in a criminal case.

Ten years later, I feel like saying that the very good Police investigator Angelo Costa – the chief of the investigations – has not fully understood this story.

Mister Costa had an interesting intuition, not believing in any way the kidnapping for money reasons.

I fear, however, that the head of the Genoese Mobile Squad was dazzled by that intuition. And it has not been possible, in this way, to clarify its logical derivations.

The “guilty party” has always been a majority in Genoa.

Inevitable, given that the newspapers were undoubtedly against Bozano.

For his part, Lorenzo Bozano did nothing – overwhelmed by a lot of accusations – to free himself from the criminal figure who sewed him.

I have never believed that Lorenzo Bozano is innocent. Indeed, I can say that the “naive reader Maurizio Corte” tends to think he is guilty.

The scholar, however, surrenders to the facts:

  • a forensic medicine report on the causes of the death of Milena Sutter which has no scientific basis;
  • at least two tracks never taken into consideration during the investigation;
  • a third track, disturbing, never traveled;
  • Milena Sutter’s friend, Isabelle, first treated very badly during police interrogations and civil lawyers and then never listened to the trial.
Genoa (Italy), the city where the Affaire Sutter-Bozano happened in 1971. A Cold Case - Il Biondino - Corte&Media Agency Verona
A view of Genoa (Italy), in the Seventies. How Genoa was in 1971

The primacy of science and the right to accurate investigations

What remains of that story, 49 years later?

As for me – in addition to an unforgettable pain that as a father I can well feel – there are some lessons that as a scholar I have drawn from chance.

The first lesson is the dutiful primacy of Science, in this case of Forensic Medicine, on the positions of “judicial policy” that can be useful.

After 49 years we know that the forensic report of professors Franchini and Chiozza on the time and causes of the death of Milena Sutter is not founded.

It is not founded on the forensic medicine level. It is not founded on the level of logic and argumentation.

Furthermore, as Professor Daniele Rodriguez (former Professor of Forensic Medicine at the University of Padua) shows in the book, the judges of the first and second instance trials added arbitrary and erroneous interpretations to them.

Iudex peritus peritorum? No. Here the judge broke his own. Disconcertingly. I hope he did it in good faith.

The second lesson, from the case of Milena Sutter and Lorenzo Bozano, is that the suspect has the right to careful investigation. In all directions.

Too comfortable, and somewhat dangerous for the reputation of the investigators, to stop at the first one suspect that best fits with the clues.

There are clues, in Bozano’s case, that are partly unfounded, partly unreliable. And I’m afraid other ones even invented.

The third and disturbing teaching is the “demolition of the person-Lorenzo Bozano”.

A prosecutor cannot do it. An investigating judge cannot do this. A Court of Assize cannot do that.

It cannot do it on the ethical and substantial truth level of the facts.

A murderer is judged to be such on the basis of evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

In the case of the (alleged) kidnapping and (alleged) murder of Milena Sutter, doubts have flourished.

And the deeper you go into the Sutter-Bozano case, the more they bloom. Even 49 years later.

Maurizio Corte
Corte&Media Agency

(in Italian: paper book or e-book)

“Il Biondino della Spider Rossa. Crimine, giustizia e media”