A woman in Sicily has been arrested after admitting killing her four-year-old daughter, having initially claimed the child was taken by hooded kidnappers for a ransom.
The body of Elena Del Pozzo was found in a field close to her home in Mascalucia, a town in the province of Catania, on Tuesday.
A day earlier, Martina Patti, 23, had told police that three hooded men, one armed with a gun, had opened the door of her car and snatched the child after she collected her from nursery school.
Police quickly ruled out organised crime and did not believe the child had been abducted for a ransom as they did not consider the family wealthy enough to be a target of extortion.
Patti admitted to the killing during questioning and took police to the body, which had been hidden under earth and volcanic ash from Mount Etna. She has been arrested on suspicion of murder and concealing a corpse.
Police said during a press conference that Elena was killed with a kitchen knife, which has not yet been found. They described “a horrendous crime committed in a solitary manner” by someone who “didn’t know why” she had done it.
Patti allegedly said during questioning: “I don’t remember what went through my mind when I stabbed by daughter.”
She had reportedly been separated from Elena’s father for some time. Citing a note from Catania’s prosecutor, Rai News reported that Patti may have been driven by jealousy towards her ex-partner’s current girlfriend, whom she could not tolerate “showing affection towards her daughter”.
The prosecutor said “various inconsistencies” emerged over the kidnap claims during a “long interrogation”, before Patti confessed.
The defence lawyer Gabriele Celesti told Rai: “It was a dramatic interrogation of a destroyed and tried women who did something that she didn’t think she could do either.”
Enzo Magra, the mayor of Mascalucia, said: “I am shocked. Upon hearing the news, I burst into tears. It is a unique drama that we never wanted to hear.”