ROME—The swanky neighborhood of Parioli in northern Rome is as well known for its posh villas as for its stylish residents. Cocktail bars and nouvo cuisine restaurants are filled with Roman gliterrati whose Ferraris and Porches are often double-parked on the wide boulevards.
It is also a favorite spot for garbage hunters, since going through the trash here often leads to veritable feasts and barely worn clothes. But on Tuesday evening, one Rom garbage hunter got more than she bargained for as she rifled through a dumpster. Instead of the usual trash treasure, she opened a box and grabbed onto a pair of clammy legs that had been sawed off at the groin and bound together with packing tape.
The Rom girl screamed and fainted, and a passerby called the cops who quickly came to fish out the limbs. They turned out to belong to a 58-year-old woman named Nicoletta Diotallevi. Diotallevi lived with her 62-year-old brother, Maurizio, in a villa next to a nearby police station that the two siblings inherited from their parents—but apparently shared quite unhappily.
The limbs took a while to give up their ghost, as it were. It was only after police checked surveillance tape from a series of businesses on the street that they were able to piece together who allegedly threw the body bits away. Almost 24 hours before they were found, the dead woman’s brother had stopped his car in front of the dumpster around midnight, according to local police. They say he pulled out a big bag with the severed thighs, and threw them out and drove away.
Police brought him in for questioning on Wednesday morning and some hours later went back out to retrieve poor Nicoletta’s torso and head from another dumpster across the street from where the siblings lived. A few hours later, they retrieved her bloodied clothing from a third dumpster. They then checked the surveillance cameras outside the police station next to the siblings’ apartment where the apparent killing and dismemberment took place.
According to police officers milling around outside the various dumpster crime scenes, the siblings had financial trouble and the victim had been supporting her brother and paying the expenses of the apartment through yoga classes she taught from time to time. They had not been able to rent the back room to summer students, so money was particularly tight.
The working theory for the motive of the crime, according to police, is that Maurizio had asked in vain for spending money from his sister, but when she refused, he allegedly grew angry and inadvertently killed her. Unsure what to do with the body, he cut it up and threw it away in various bins on Tuesday night, assuming that the bins would be emptied on Wednesday morning. But Wednesday was a holiday in Italy and the garbage went uncollected and thus, being very full, was especially attractive to those who hunt for salvageable goods. This led to the discovery of the sinister secret. Had the garbage been collected as normal, the body might have ended up in a landfill and the truth about Nicoletta’s demise buried with it.
The case of the severed limbs is sadly not the first such incident in Italy in recent years. Almost two years ago to the day, a severed leg bearing the tattoo “It’s a good day to die” washed up on the banks of the Tiber River that winds through Rome. Four years ago, a headless torso was found in the Venice lagoon.
A neighbor who lived next door to the middle-aged siblings told reporters outside the apartment that she had never heard the siblings quarrel. “They were decent people. They had values. I was here on Tuesday night and didn’t hear a thing,” she said. “When I returned this morning and saw all the police under the house I thought they were shooting a film. Instead I hear this shocking news.”
Maurizio, who faces charges of murder and concealing a corpse, will make a court appearance later this week.