Two American teenage tourists in Rome confess to killing an undercover Italian policeman during a bungled drug deal – who tried to recover a backpack they stole in Rome during a bungled drug deal where they were given ground aspirin instead of cocaine late on Friday
Lee Elder Finnegan, 19, from San Francisco confessed to fatally stabbing 35-year-old paramilitary policeman Mario Cerciello Rega on Friday night, police said
Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega,who had just returned to work from his honeymoon, suffered eight stab wounds and later died in hospital from his injuries.
His travelling companion Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, 18, also from San Francisco, were present at the time of the fatal stabbing
The two teens are said to have told officials they’d been looking to buy drugs , cocaine, in Rome’s Trastevere district at 2am but were sold crushed aspirin instead
They were then captured on CCTV returning to track down the dealer who had sold them the fake cocaine but only managed to find an associate
The teens stole his backpack and demanded 100 Euros and a gram of drugs for its return. The man agreed but called police to recover it from them instead
After the undercover cops introduced themselves, the two would be drug buyers reportedly, ‘didn’t hesitate’ to attack the cops – A scuffle broke out where Finnegan stabbed Vice Brigadier Mario Rega eight times, fatally striking him in the heart
No formal charges have been filed, however both of the teens have been placed in custody for aggravated homicide and attempted extortion
The funeral for Rega is scheduled for Monday in the city of Somma Vesuviana, at the same church where he wed less than two months ago
‘The man pointed them to a supplier, who reportedly sold them crushed medicine instead of cocaine,’ a Carabinieri spokesman said.
Finnegan and Hjorth apparently realized they’d been defrauded when they attempted to snort the white powder but realized it was aspirin.
They were then captured on CCTV returning to the square, hoping to track down the dealer who had sold them the fake cocaine.
Their search for the dealer failed, but they did find Brugiatelli, and, believing him to be an accomplice of the dealer, the pair stole his bag and returned to their hotel.
Brugiatelli then rang his phone, which was still inside the backpack, and the two tourists demanded he pay them 100 euros and give them a gram of cocaine to see it returned.
He agreed. However, instead of going to meet the men himself, Brugiatelli called police who sent two plain clothes officers to quiz the men.
Gruesome scene in Rome where Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth stabbed Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega. The cop’s partner described the scene of Rega lying in a ‘pool of blood’ dying
The two officers approached Finnegan and Hjorth and announced they were Carabinieri, but after brief exchange of words Finnegan pulled out a knife and stabbed Rega several times.
The police said that the pair ‘did not hesitate to engage in a scuffle which culminated in the tragic deadly wounding of Mario Rega Cerciello.’
Rega, who had just returned to work from his honeymoon, suffered eight stab wounds to his back and chest. He later died in hospital from his injuries, with one of the blows having struck his heart.
Finnegan however has tole investigators that neither Rega, or the second officer Andrea Varriale, identified themselves as Carabinieri.
However, in a separate interview room Hjorth completely contradicted the claim and admitted both of the officers had disclosed their credentials.
‘When we saw them we approached, we qualified and after a few moments a struggle broke out,’ said Rega’s colleague Andrea Varriale to investigators.
‘After a while I heard Mario scream with multiple stabs,’ he continued. ‘I rushed to rescue him while they were running away. I immediately called for help and the operations center to ask for help and give a description of the two attackers.’
Varriale described Rega as being in a ‘pool of blood’ as he laid dying on the ground.
When officers stormed the room the two suspects were ‘ready to leave’ Italy, packing their bags and just about to head to the airport.
Also found in the room was the knife – which was of ‘considerable size’ – used to kill Rega and the clothes worn by the pair in the attack, hidden behind ceiling tiles in their room.
‘After their arrest, Elder Finnegan confessed on Friday night,’ the spokesman revealed.
Both of the teens have been placed in custody for aggravated homicide and attempted extortion but are yet to be formally charged.
Brugiatelli, the supposed fixer, remains under house arrest as of Saturday morning.
The news of Rega’s death shook Italians and has dominated headlines across the country, with early reports suggesting the murderers were North African, fanning a wave of anti-migrant sentiments on social media.
Italy’s hard-line Interior minister Matteo Salvini, who has campaigned against migration, demanded ‘hard labor for life … for these b******s.’
The funeral of Brigadier Cerciello Rega is to be held on Monday in the city of Somma Vesuviana, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, at the same church where he was married less than two months ago.