AN Italian village odd-job man gunned down clients who failed to pay him, killing at least five in the small Sicilian community, a prosecutor claim.
Ugo Rossi, chief prosecutor for the city of Syracuse, said Giuseppe Raeli, 69, was accused of five murders and four attempted murders, although press reports said he was suspected of eight killings over seven years.
“Giuseppe Raeli was ready to kill for only a few hundred euros, even 200,” Mr Rossi told local media.
“He took the law into his own hands as soon as someone owed him money and didn’t pay him for work he had done.”
ANSA news agency said earlier a helicopter and a special Carabinieri unit were used in the swoop on Raeli’s home in the village of Cassibile.
It said he was suspected of the shooting of eight people, all with a 12-bore shotgun, ranging from a woman of 29 to a man of 74, between May 1997 and August 2004.
The unknown murderer was known locally as “the monster of Cassibile”.
Mr Rossi said a home-made safe containing 20,000 euros ($27,600) and a loaded pistol were found in a search of the home of the man nicknamed “The Wolf” by his neighbours because of his taciturn nature.
Raeli, who has no previous criminal record, was described by investigators as a “cold, withdrawn and spiteful” character who usually avoided others but became “threatening and vengeful” when money was involved.
Describing him as “very miserly” but a hard worker, the prosecutor said Raeli, married with two children, did odd jobs for people, clearing land with a mechanical digger or delivering wood.
Police were led to Raeli after they found shotgun shells that matched the weapon used by the “monster” while investigating an attempted murder in March 2009.
A shell of the same model and calibre was then found by police during a search of Raeli’s garage and a ballistics report confirmed they came from the gun used by the serial killer.
“We are now sure that we have definitely identified the person known as the ‘monster of Cassibile’,” Mr Rossi said.
“The investigation looked into 15 dark years of Cassibile’s history, though we also found ‘clues’ hidden in other events as far back as 1991”
Prosecutor Antonio Nicastro, who helped work on the case, said: “Today we can say we have beaten fear.”