Milena Sutter and Lorenzo Bozano’s criminal case: two lives and a story built by the media.

The main characters of the story we are dealing with are Milena Sutter and Lorenzo Bozano. As in all stories, there is the antagonist as well who is here embodied in the media.

The interest in the judicial case has the newspapers led to create a story made of certainties and doubts as well, weaving a storyline about facts and clues as an official version, in addition to fascinating labels to people whom in this story are involved.

The definitive narrative context to which the media refer to is basically about the “kidnapping” of the “child” Milena Sutter by the hand of Lorenzo Bozano, “the blondie of red spider”. So, the story begins from the key figure identified in Lorenzo Bozano.

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, “the monster”

The newspapers had no doubt: Lorenzo Bozano was the “kidnapper and murderer” of the young Sutter, the Perfect Culprit.

He was a great candidate to be the “monster” of the affair because the only and certain suspect, despite the lack of evidence.

In support of the media theory, his particular family background as well and this has made him an easy target for the negative label.

Many labels have been given to Lorenzo Bozano, starting with the rather negative portrait made by his father Paolo Bozano, who has definitely been an inspiration for the media and court judgments.

From the judge’s final decision that sentenced him to life in prison, Bozano got additional labels, such as “sexual deviate”, “maniac”, “liar”, also feed by an unhappy childhood and his criminal history.

Milena, “the child”

Usually the situation of a victim is highlighted a lot in the newspapers, in this case the emphasis is put on the age of the victim: Milena Sutter was thirteen years old, so she was automatically a “child” according to the media; in a context of kidnapping she had become the “kidnapped child”.

In fact, as you can read in the Genoese newspaper Il Secolo XIX dated 8 May 1971, two days after the Milena’s disappearance, the sub-headline of interview made to her father Arturo quoted: “For my child I will pay any amount”.

Hence the choice of the name for the narrative story; however, during the interview reported inside the same article, Arturo Sutter never described the daughter as “child”.

This statement, however, does not coincide with the reality of the facts.

First of all, Milena was thirteen years old and attended the middle school: so, we have to consider about the period of adolescence, intermediate between childhood and youth.

Secondly, the physical appearance of Milena did not allow to assume that she was a child, quite the opposite she played sport and she had a strong physical constitution; therefore, it was not easy to attribute her real age immediately.

So, it is clear that the media wanted to highlight the position of the victim, calling her a “child”, as a defenceless person compared to her attacker, omitting some key details that would have made the difference.

Reason, “the kidnapping”

Another aspect on which the media had no doubt is the reason of the murder: the kidnapping for money extortion, since Sutter family got the request of the ransom about fifty million of the old lire.

For days, following the disappearance of Milena, the main Genoese – and not – newspapers, such as Corriere Mercantile and Il Secolo XIX, have printed titles focused on this track and keeping out any other, thus influencing the entire national italian press.

Milena Sutter - Cold Case investigation - Blog The Perfect Culprit - - Corte&Media Agency

From judicial case to mediatic case under a storytelling point of view

From the point of view of storytelling, the story according to the media recalls the narrative structure of Christopher Vogler’s “The journey of the hero”; precisely, in this case the homonymous female scheme Maureen Murdock’s “The journey of the heroine”.

The context is that of the protagonist heroine (Milena) whom the peacefulness of everyday life in her family environment is taken away.

This happens due to the antagonist (Lorenzo), who deceives and puts the heroine in difficulty.

Nevertheless, he turns into different identities (archetypes of characters): he is also a trickster (a kind of travel companion who deceives the heroine), a shapeshifter (he dresses up and changes look to influence her), a mentor (he recommends and influences the heroine to behave as he suggests), and finally he is a herald (representing the inciting incident that starts the adventure for the heroine) as well.

The narrative structure includes “magical objects” with which to pursue the purpose: in the case of antagonist Bozano they are the red spider, the diving belt and, according to some affirmations, a fake police card with which he would convince the heroine to trust him and get her in the car.

Initially he wins the first judicial phase returning with “the elixir” (the reward), until then the story completely changes.

He resumes the journey until his defeat at the final judgment at court appeal.

Not only that. The newspapers quoted several titles and articles that reported alleged confessions of Bozano; this adds to the narrative picture a mysterious and powerful figure who could be the creator of such revelations and that, in some way, conditioned the media by suggesting new doubts.

A media narrative started without any doubts and with harsh criticism has ended, over time, to consider lack of important highlights leading this narrative to fall on its weak foundation. A story that can still be changed.

Gaia Corradino

(photo: thanks to Sandra Seitamaa, Unsplash)