Milena Sutter’s kidnapping and murder. Genoa (Italy), 1971, May 6th.

The story that I ‘m going to tell you it’s about a young man, born in Genoa (Italy), in 1945, whose name is Lorenzo Bozano.

He is twenty-five years old when his life completely changes because of a dreadful event.

Lorenzo was charged with the kidnapping of Milena Sutter, a thirteen-year-old girl who vanished from the Swiss School of Genoa in May 1971.

Two weeks later the disappearance, two fishermen found her dead body near Genoa’s port area.

Let’s start from the very beginning: Lorenzo was born in an upper-class family. Parents separated; the young man didn’t raise in a quiet homely atmosphere.

Paolo Bozano, his father, called his son “daredevil” during an interview he gave to Il Secolo XIX, an Italian newspaper dated 25 May 1971.

According to his statement, Lorenzo was a taciturn boy, who often got in some trouble.

Bozano senior continued the story talking about Lorenzo’s childhood.

Fifth of seven children, the only one who had never followed any advice from his father was Lorenzo. In fact, he faced some minor offences.

He once stole money and valuables from his family home; and, between 1969 and 1971, the man was accused of violent assault against four young ladies.

If a man shakes your hands and introduces himself using these words, what’s the first impression he makes on you?

Milena Sutter’s kidnapping for ransom

Police considered kidnapping for ransom as first investigative lead.

All the clues were trees on the both sides of the only road that led to Lorenzo Bozano.

On May 21, 1971 the front page dedicated to the crime news of the Genoese newspaper Corriere Mercantile highlighted this title: “Lorenzo Bozano: a character who came from Poe’s novel”.

The identikit drawn by the article showed a dangerous man; at some point the journalist wrote the following question: “Doctor Jekyll and mister Hyde?”.

The answer was implied in the text, the young man hid his dark side under a mask of innocence and innocuousness.

From this moment all we know about this horrible homicide case is reported by the press like we’re reading a novel with characters, spells and magic potions.

Real facts become a narrative story, a kind of little red riding hood who meets the big bad wolf in the woods.

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
Lorenzo Bozano Lorenzo Bozano was charged with the kidnapping and murder of Milena Sutter

“The Monster” Lorenzo Bozano

The press developed a fantastic world around the case, a world populated by monsters and innocent creatures.

Journalists used terms that told a story whose ending was already established; their descriptions didn’t leave space for doubts or suppositions, everything was already written.

The investigations focused one’s attention on the only suspect for the kidnapping and the murder of Milena Sutter.

Police started looking suspiciously at Lorenzo after the girl’s disappearance.

According to them the person responsible for the crime was this lazybones young man; who was arrested on May 20, 1971, after the girl’s dead body resurfaced from the sea.

The day after his arrest, the press started describing this person as if he had the face of an evil monster.

At the time of the fact Lorenzo drove an old second-hand red car, for this reason he was nicknamed by the Genoese press “the blondie of red spider”.

This tag was given by some women who testified the presence of a blond man in a red car nearby the victim’s home.

Other witnesses confirmed that they had often seen the same red car outside the Swiss School.  

Starting from now, the newspaper Corriere Mercantile will use the term “blondie” writing about Lorenzo Bozano in its articles.

According to the words used by this local press the young man gradually became “the monster” who had killed an innocent thirteen-year-old girl without a specific motive.

The spell: evidence for the prosecution

There were two trials for the case, in both Lorenzo played the leading role.

At the first-degree trial in 1973 he was acquitted due to lack of evidence and released by the Court of Genoa.

At the second appeal in 1975 the jury made its decision: Lorenzo was sentenced to life in prison because of kidnapping for ransom, murder and concealment of Milena’s dead body.

The defendant tried to prove that he didn’t commit the crime, he always said he wasn’t guilty.

Today Lorenzo still declares himself innocent.

Which were the evidences against him? Let’s have a look closer.

On 22 May 1971 the newspaper Il Secolo XIX published on the front page the list of evidences against Bozano used in court during the trial.

Among the evidences for the prosecution to Bozano it seemed that there weren’t clues enough concrete in connection with a sentence to life in a cage.

The diving belt, considered the murder weapon, the red car, seen nearby the victim’s school, and the kidnapping project that the police found on a desk in Lorenzo’s hotel room, were evidences that adhered closely to the substantial reality of the facts.

Other evidences were related to the young man’s tumultuous past. Nothing or little to do with the murder charge.

The final judgement on Lorenzo Bozano as human being, provided at the trial’s conclusion, was strongly influenced by the psychological and private picture of the character with human weaknesses who had been painted in the courtroom.

In fact, the head of police administration called him in a derogatory way “the filthy character”.

The magic potion: missing clues

Mass media never mentioned any missing clues, which could have been important to the case.

We first need to consider the crime scene.

Police didn’t find the victim’s fingerprints in the Bozano’s red car.

Secondly, there weren’t signs of self-defence on Milena’s dead body.

The pathologists who examined it came to a clear conclusion: the main causes of death were strangulation and probable suffocation.

But the fight against the aggressor to defend herself should have caused other visible marks on the Milena’s body, shouldn’t it?  

The third missing clue was the relationship between the victim and the murderer. It seemed that they never met each other.

Also, Milena’s best friend, Isabelle, denied that the victim knew Lorenzo.

As we have seen until now, the role of mass media has been incisive during the exposition of the case to the public opinion.

Newspapers played a great supporting role in this crime story.

Much it has been said and it has been written about Lorenzo Bozano, giving him the label of a person with some social problems and thousands of behaviour disorders.

The judgement of public opinion was clouded by digging into Bozano’s private past.

People considered him guilty beyond any reasonable doubt.

If now I told you that Lorenzo Bozano wasn’t actually blond, but he had brown hair, and he wasn’t thin, but the young man was tall and strong, would you still believe in press unconditionally?

Nicoletta Apolito