Death in Venice

Everyone has heard of the famous books on murder mysteries in Venice, “Death in Venice” and “Vaporetto 13” or the many books by Edward Sklepowich. Donna Leon has made Commissario Brunetti famous in her murder mysteries with Venice as the backdrop. But in keeping with the “life is stranger than fiction” a recent episode or “giallo” in Venice is too strange not to write about it.


It all began with a discovery driver of a water taxi in the small canal where he docks his boat on the island of Lido. He saw something bobbling in the water and upon closer look it was a body. The police arrived and along with the firemen and pulled out the body of a young woman, completely nude – except for a necklace. (This is not a clue.)

This was at 1:30 am on Monday. It was immediately determined that (1) she had not thrown herself into the canal and (2) that she had not died from drowning and (3) that she was not a local, and not a tourist in a local hotel.

So began what was a mystery and one of the fastest solved crimes in the history of Venice. It was a poorly disguised murder.

The first clue came when a woman was reported missing in Milano, had been seen on Saturday there and was reported missing by her roommates, a couple from India. Ah!

But how did she get to Venice as by now we know several important factors. (1) The corner declares she has been dead for about 48 hours, which puts the time of death on Saturday. (2) She was reported missing on Sunday. (3) She had been in the canal for only a couple of hours. (4) She did not come to Venice on her on.

We all know there are cameras everywhere, train stations, bus stations, vaporetto stops. So this starts to narrow down things a bit.

The police in Milano visit the roommates to get more information. Their story changes, she had been drinking, there was a fight, first one and then the other one took responsibility.

Then the security cameras gave a clue – there on the video was the couple getting off the vaporetto on the island of Lido with a very large suitcase. Then about 2.5 hours later, they were seen boarding the vaporetto returning from Lido to Venice, but without the suitcase.

So by the following weekend, the two were in jail and a complete details of this murder were known. Probably one of the fastest crimes solved in the history of Italy.

The young lady is a native of Iran. She was a student at an art academy in Milano, was sharing an apartment with the couple, a tiny studio. When the tight quarters and lack of privacy had become unbearable to the lady, she decided to move out and asked for her deposit back. An argument ensued and she was killed.

That’s Saturday! They discussed how to dispose of her body and removed her clothing, though why they did not remove the necklace is yet to be answered.


They bought a suitcase and folded her into the suitcase.

Now it is Sunday. They went to Milano Centrale, the main station in Milano with intentions to dump her into the lake at Lake Como. But….when they arrived there were “too many people”.


They again boarded the train with the lady in the suitcase, this time back to Milano and had another thought because they still needed to dispose of the body. They bought a ticket for Venice. What’s more natural than a couple headed to Venice with their luggage.

(The irony of this is that if they had left the suitcase unattended for 5 minutes in Milano, someone would have stolen it and their problem would have been solved!)


Why Venice? The young man had worked for a short time as a waiter on Lido and presumably felt there were fewer people, which is true in off-season. They arrived at Santa Lucia station in Venice and took the vaporetto with the suitcase, presumably the #1 along the romantic Grand Canal a trip which takes about 40-50 minutes, where they are seen by the video cameras arriving with the suitcase on Lido.

So they have now taken the body by train in a large suitcase from Milano to Lake Como, back to Milano(about 1 hour each way) and then to Venice (which is about 3-4 hours by train). They hastily disposed of the body in a shallow canal not too far from the vaporetto stop and to their misfortune, very close to the water taxi stand.

What did they do then – stroll around Lido? Well eventually they took the vaporetto back to the train station. However, it was late, about 2ish in the morning and there were no more trains to Milano that night (Actually the body was discovered about the time they reached the train station.) Security cameras have captured their departure in the taxi.

 They walked to Piazzale Roma and they hired a taxi driver (car) to take them back to Milano. The cost: 650 Euro or roughly $900 US. Do you think the taxi driver remembered them (3-4 hours in the car on the A-4)? He was probably still boasting to all his buddies about this exorbitant taxi ride when the police found him to question him.


The police discovered their necessity to return to Milano at such haste and expense. They had thousands of Euro hidden in their apartment. And they had also booked tickets back to their homeland for Tuesday with a flight out of Milano. And by now I think they had to buy another suitcase!


I do not think I will ever look at a large suitcase on the vaporett or  train in quite the same light.Google

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