Milena Sutter’s criminal case. Her body found by two fishermen. What had happened?

On May 20, 1971 two friends decided to go fishing in Priaruggia, district of Genoa (Italy).

They took to the open sea as the sun went down; the afternoon was quiet and warm.

The silence was interrupted only by the peaceful noise of the sea.

The two friends were rocked by the waves, around them everything was calm.

They exchanged funny jokes while waiting for some fish to rise to the bait.

About 5 p.m. one of them saw something floating in the water.

They went closer.

Suddenly the stillness of the pleasant evening between friends crashed through the surface drowning the two men in a sea of fear.

They immediately recognized what stood before their incredulous and frighten eyes.

They couldn’t look away from it.

It was a dead body.

The worst nightmare came to life to never be forgotten.

The day of reckoning has come

The Institute of Forensic Medicine confirmed that the dead body belonged to Milena Sutter, the missing girl from the Swiss School in Genoa.

After fourteen days the Genoese sea returned Milena to her family, worry turned into pain.

And pain turned into anger.

Who committed the crime?

What happened to Milena?

So many questions needed to be resolved.

On May 9, Lorenzo Bozano was stopped by police as he was reaching his car, a red spider parked in via Galli.

The day after the disappearance Genoese newspapers talked about a “blondie in a red spider car” who was seen driving around the Swiss School. Was this young man involved in the Milena’s case?

The same day Lorenzo was questioned and arrested at the police station.

The search of his room turned up some notes which seemed to have characteristics of a “kidnapping plan”.

Was Lorenzo responsible of Milena’s kidnapping for ransom?

On May 13, he was released for lack of evidence. Clues against him weren’t enough.

Anyway, the young man had a target on his back.

When Milena’s body was found, Lorenzo Bozano was charged with the crime. He was immediately arrested.

Was he innocent or guilty?

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


The fine line between reality and imagination

The causes of death were still uncertain, but, the next day, the press left room for imagination to elaborate truths and possible motives.

The trial in court had not yet begun.

A second trial, instead, began immediately.

The court of public opinion found a motive before the police.

On May 21, Genoese newspapers charged Bozano with the following crimes: kidnapping for ransom, murder and concealment of Milena’s dead body.

That wasn’t enough for the press.

Journalists decided to add a motive: “for sexual purposes”, they wrote.

No one had talked about Lorenzo’s private life.

How did the press know it? Was the fact real?

Il Secolo XIX reported on its pages that Lorenzo Bozano had criminal records.

According to the newspaper the young man used to stalk girls.

He followed them for days and days without speaking or making advances.

Was the reliability of this history tested? Is there really credibility in its words?

Or maybe we’re just talking about a shy young man.

Two elements gave certainty and foundation to the hypothesis of the motive for sexual purposes: the file on Bozano’s background and the story told by the investigators.

Both could represent evidence, but the facts weren’t verified in court yet.

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 before the Court of Assize, in Genoa (Italy) in 1973


Lorenzo Bozano: the judicial tale

Tre press was a constant and attentive presence, always at the forefront in the continuous reporting of news and updates on the case.

The reality of the facts was centrifuged into a smoothie of terms; and appellations more in accordance with a narrative context than with the chronicle of a true story.

The story’s ingredients mix with the dough of legal and literary terms.

The judicial chronicle of a murder case meets the literary world, during the media narration it adopts the guise of it.

A judicial tale is a story told in court.

The points of view from which we learn the facts are two: the public prosecution and the defence.

We are obviously talking about two different points of view.

The validity of the story in court will be determined by the plaiting of these two perspectives.

In the Sutter-Bozano case, the press told the story relying solely and exclusively on the words spoken by the public prosecution.

Journalists reported a crime story that left no room for uncertainties and hesitations: Lorenzo Bozano was the monster beyond reasonable doubt.

We realize the amount of narrative elements present inside the judicial tale by analysing it. 

According to press Milena was “the helpless child”, Lorenzo Bozano became “the perfect culprit”.

On May 21, the Genoese newspaper Il Secolo XIX reported on page three this title: “the indecipherable suspect”.

The article was completed by a photo of Lorenzo Bozano.

His gaze wasn’t directed to the reader. No relation between the suspect and the public.

Lorenzo avoided the reader’s gaze because he wanted to hide his true feelings. His eyes could have spoken for him.

Mystery. Murder. Monster. Three is a magic number: the rule of 3M works for every crime story reported by the press.

Milena Sutter in the beach of Priaruggia - May 20th 1971 - Genoa - Italy - blog ilbiondino
Genoa (1971), May 20th, Milena Sutter’s body is found by two fishermen


Milena Sutter’s case: the plot

The action of this crime story explained all the attempts to deal with unforeseen events to reach a result: solve the Milena Sutter’s murder case.

The purpose of this crime story was sculpted deeply into the marble conviction of the press.

The result gave the impression that the person the police were looking for was a culprit and not THE culprit.

Where was the truth between facts and actions told by the press?

The real facts regarding Milena’s disappearance and her death are summarized in this slide:

Milena Sutter Case - Genoa - Italy - 1971 May 6th - blog - Corte&Media Agency

According to the Court od Assize, the real facts regarding the actions of Lorenzo Bozano on May 6 are summarized in this slide:

Which role does the press play
among these real facts?

We could never take its words for granted.

There is still much more to say about this crime case.

Nicoletta Apolito