A 27-year-old security guard rammed the car of his ex-girlfriend on the outskirts of Rome, chased her down when she tried to flee, doused her with gasoline and burned her alive because she wouldn’t get back together with him.
Police say that the woman—identified as 22-year-old college student, Sara Di Pietrantonio—could have been saved it passers-by had responded to her desperate screams for assistance.
The woman’s charred body was discovered at dawn on Sunday by firefighters responding to a call regarding a vehicle in flames, which turned out to be Di Pietrantonio’s. The squad leader Luigi Silipo said that the call seemed routine until they discovered the woman’s body. “In 25 years in this work I have never seen such a horrendous crime,” he said.
Vincenzo Paduano is being charged with the premeditated murder of the woman, who broke up with him several months ago and had begun seeing someone else. Now in custody, Paduano initially denied the crimes but later confessed to the substance of the charges, blaming his actions on “jealousy.”
Reconstructing the crime with the help of surveillance footage from street cameras, investigators said that Paduano flanked his former girlfriend’s car and then rammed it. He then got into the vehicle with her, carrying with him a bottle of flammable liquid. He set fire to the car, at which point the woman was able to flee, but it was late at night on a dark street with few houses. Paduano set out after the young woman, and when he caught her he poured the liquid over her head and face and set her on fire with a cigarette lighter.
Rome’s deputy prosecutor, Maria Monteleone, said that the woman had screamed for help when other cars passed by but no one responded. “Before her murderer caught up with her Sara tried to ask for help from motorists, but no one stopped,” she said. “If someone had done so, maybe Sara would still be alive.”
Surveillance footage shows several cars driving by during the commission of the crime. A few hours later police tracked down two of the drivers, who justified themselves by saying that they had realized that the girl needed help but were “afraid” to stop.
During an eight-hour interrogation, Paduano admitted to killing the girl. “We had split some time ago,” Paduano told investigators, “but I could not bear that it was over. She was already with another.”
People who know Paduano claim he was “obsessed” with Sara, believed that she was his “property” and could not accept the idea that she had started a relationship with another guy.
Friends also told investigators that some time ago there had been a violent episode between the two, while they were still together. Sara, however, chose not to press charges at the time, perhaps so as not to cause him problems at work.
After the murder, Paduano reportedly returned regularly to work, showing no remorse.
In an interview with reporters, Monteleone launched an appeal, asking that anyone who comes across a girl in need of help “not be indifferent.”
“If it weren’t for this indifference, Sara would probably not be dead,” she said.
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