The three lives of Donato Bilancia, the serial killer sentenced to 13 life sentences accused of 17 murders


The three lives of Donato Bilancia, the serial killer sentenced to 13 life sentences accused of 17 murders
Written by aquitodovale

The story of Donato Bilancia, the bloodiest serial killer in Italy: he killed 17 people between 1997 and 1998. His life was characterized by various phases: difficult childhood, obsession with gambling , murders, redemption in prison.

Donato Libra

The press had nicknamed him “the monster of trains” or “Jack the Italian Ripper“, but Donato Libra he made many more victims than his British “colleague”. And in a frighteningly short period of time. Due to the fear and media hype caused by his murders, Ferrovie dello Stato even decided to lock up the convoys in 1998.

Donato Bilancia was “the most killer of Italian serial killers”: in just six months, between October 1997 and April 1998, he killed 17 people, including nine men and eight women. A trail of blood without equal in the history of the country. Libra himself called it “my consecutio temporum”. Arrested in May 1998, after the Libra trial he was sentenced to the record penalty of 13 life sentences and 16 years in prison.

He died of coronavirus at the university hospital of Padua, at the age of 69, in December 2020. After being transferred to the health facility from the “Due Palazzi” prison in the same Venetian city, Libra allegedly refused medical treatment: an act of protest against the refusal to grant permission by the judges of the Supervisory Court, which the man considered “guilty” of not having understood his efforts to change.

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“It is one of the darkest, most engaging, scariest, but perhaps also most instructive stories on the dark side of human nature,” said director Pino Corrias, author of a docufilm dedicated to the most bloodthirsty murderer in the Italian crime news.

Retracing the stages of his story is like descending into a narrow shadow of anger and madness. Step after step down, into the deep abyss of evil.

Who is Donato Bilancia, the serial killer sentenced to 13 life sentences

Donato Libra

Donato Libra

Born in Potenza on 10 July 1951, the son of a civil servant and an inert housewife, he moved with his family first to Asti, then to Capaccio in the province of Salerno and finally to Genoa in 1956. Donato grew up together with his parents and his brother. older, but with family members will never have a peaceful relationship. He himself would later define life at home as “hell”. Between the quarrels and punishment from the father.

He is doing badly in school, and in fact he leaves it after having repeated the eighth grade three times. He carries out various jobs: mechanic, baker, bartender. But the young man’s main vocation is crime: in 1971 the Cuneo Court sentenced him to three months in prison, again for theft. The same happens in 1974 and 1976.

In those years, Donato stole cars on the street and valuables in apartments and jewelers. But nothing compared to what would have happened in about twenty years.

In 1987 a traumatic event marked his life forever: in March of that year, his elder brother Michele took his son in his arms and committed suicide, throwing himself under a train on the Genoa – Ventimiglia line. His wife Ornella Coccorocchio, 29, wanted to separate from him and had asked the judges to entrust little Davide through her lawyer. Which had plunged Michele into despair.

That episode is like a lit match thrown on the handful of gunpowder of Donato’s already disturbed psyche: from here – according to what emerged from subsequent psychiatric reports – a tremendous hatred, visceral and deep, begins to germinate in man. women.

The first crimes related to the vice of gambling

Libra is a “lone wolf”, does not want accomplices and works alone. He frequents the Casino of Sanremo, as well as clandestine gambling dens, prostitutes and various characters from the local underworld. He calls himself “Walter”. He is a pathological gambler: he is able to win millions of lire in one evening as well as to squander the whole day after. He only has one friend. Or rather, he is convinced he is: his name is Maurizio Parenti. The two often go gambling together.

One evening in 1997, the second serious episode takes place, after the death of his brother and his four-year-old grandson, which will forever mark the fate of Donato Bilancia: by pure chance, the man hears Parenti bragging to the owner of a gambling den for bringing him “that Libra chicken.” He discovers that the two had tricked him, almost stealing from him 500 million lire in a month of rigged play.

For Libra, those words are a shock: that night, the powder keg in his head explodes like a triggered bomb. And Donato slips more and more into the abyss of rancor and thirst for revenge. Against his “friend”. Against women. And against the rest of the world around him.

His first victim is the owner of the gambling den who had plotted behind him with Parenti: Giorgio Centanaro. On October 16, 1997, she enters his house, covers his mouth with adhesive tape and suffocates him. While she does, she also explains why.

The following October 24 is the turn of Parenti, who murders with his wife Carla Scotto. Libra also steals 13 million lire and some watches from the couple’s home. From that moment on, Libra takes a liking to us and her thirst for blood never stops, fueled by a sinister sense of omnipotence.

Three days later he kills another couple, the two goldsmiths Bruno Solari and Maria Luigia Pitto, in the same way as for the previous crimes. Then, on November 13, robberies and kills Luciano Marro, a money changer in Ventimiglia. On January 25, 1998, however, he kills the night watchman Giangiorgio Canu, only out of resentment towards the police. On March 20, he is the turn of another money changer: Enzo Gorni.

The serial killer of prostitutes, Donato Bilancia hated women

Of women, after Carla Scotto, Libra kills six more. In his crooked criminal design, the last one should have been Ornella, the former sister-in-law. Most of them are prostitutes and the ritual is almost always the same: her jacket on her head and gunshot. Except for those of Scotto and Pitto, the murders of women all took place in 1998.

On 9 March he shoots and kills the Albanian in Varazze Stela Truya, with whom he had secluded. The following March 18, in Pietra Ligure, he assassinates the Ukrainian with a blow to the head Ljudmyla Zubskova.

On March 24, he attempts to kill a transsexual woman in a villa in Novi Ligure, Lorena Castro, who, however, manages to escape and go to the police and provide the first identikit of the man to the police. In the circumstance, Libra kills two other night watchers who had tried to stop him, Massimiliano Gualillo And Candido Randò.

At that time, Libra was wanted by investigators from at least five different prosecutors: Genoa, Imperia, Savona, Sanremo and Alessandria.

On March 29, in Cogoleto, he puts an end to the life of Tessy Adodo, Nigerian prostitute. The Adodo murder marks a turning point for investigators, who have long been wandering with fragmented clues in pursuit of the serial killer. In fact, the Ris of Parma recognize the weapon used by Libra also for the previous crimes: a Smith & Wesson caliber 38. On April 14th 1998 it is instead the turn of a Macedonian prostitute: Kristina Valla.

The latest murders on trains

Another nickname for Libra in those six months of madness is “the train killer”. And it is not a case.

On 12 April 1998, on the La Spezia-Venice Intercity, he broke into the bathroom door of the wagon and killed Elisabetta Zoppetti, a Milanese nurse from the National Cancer Institute. Since then, Libra has been nicknamed by the media “the monster of Liguria“The whole country follows the developments of the case in total panic.

On 18 April the latest victim on a train, on the Genoa-Ventimiglia route: here he murders the babysitter Maria Angela Rubino and masturbates on his corpse. On April 20, in a service area on the Genoa-Ventimiglia motorway in the municipality of Arma di Taggia, the last of Libra’s crimes takes place, when he robs and kills the gas station attendant Giuseppe Mileto, because she refuses to give him credit for a full tank of gasoline.

The arrest and life in prison

The identikit provided by Lorena, the testimony of another woman miraculously pardoned by the murderer, the identification of a black Mercedes used during the crimes and the story of a man, Pino Monello, who had sold him a very similar car without transfer of ownership. These are the decisive elements that lead the investigators to the recognition and arrest of Libra.

Libra used to queue up to the car in front of him at the toll booths, to avoid the toll. Seeing inundated with fines, Monello denounces him, involuntarily triggering the searches of the carabinieri, who were just looking for a Mercedes, on the recommendation of Castro. From a coffee drunk at the bar and from the butt of a cigarette, the carabinieri identify the DNA of the suspect close the circle: Donato Bilancia is arrested on the morning of May 6, 1998 in front of the hospital San Martino of Genoawithout any resistance on his part.

When you sit in front of the prosecutor, Enrico Zuccathe serial killer begins by stating: “If you want me to tell you my story, we have to start from the beginning. And the beginning is not a murder, it’s not eight murders, but seventeen.” He therefore admits all murders, including the first, that of the gambler Centanaro, who was initially considered to have died of natural causes.

Libra has been examined over the years by at least a dozen psychiatrists. According to them, cruelty and pleasure are intertwined in the motive for his crimes, committed for futile reasons or without any reason. All linked together by a single red thread: pure hatred. For lack of love, loneliness and resentment towards others.

Reo confessed, in April 2000 the Court of Genoa sentenced him to 13 life sentences and 28 years in prison. Libra spends 20 years in prison in the Due Palazzi of Padua. First as an isolated and solitary inmate, due to threats from other inmates. Then the life prisoner is the protagonist of a slow rise: repentance, study, the diploma in accounting in 2016, collaboration with the prison theater group, enrollment in a degree course in “Planning and management of cultural tourism” . He even begins to pray.

Starting from 2011 Libra begins to pay part of her civil pension (just over 500 euros per month) to a child with Down syndrome and other disabilities, a guest of the Opera della Provvidenza S. Antonio, in Rubano, and to a Sicilian family with three disabled children. In this phase “he becomes a kind of ‘respectable’ man and this turns on a little light in this black story,” said the journalist Renato Pizzini, who collaborated on Corrias’ docufilm.

Donato Libra died of Covid on December 17, 2020

The story of the bloodiest serial killer in Italy ends on December 17, 2020 at the university hospital of Padua. Here, he dies as a result of health complications after contracting Covid-19, after the outbreak of an outbreak in the penitentiary where he was detained: only for Libra is hospitalization necessary.

“I will go to hell, but I will ask God for a moment to apologize to the victims”, would have been the last words spoken by “Walterino” to his confessor in the prison.

At the hospital, Libra refuses medical staff as a manifestation of protest against the judges of the Supreme Court of the Surveillance Court: they had recently denied him permission to visit the disabled child he supported.

“It was his way of getting up from the green table of life, as gamblers do, when they finally lose everything,” said director Corrias about the last moments of the life’s life.

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