An Italian bricklayer may have forced his 17-year-old daughter to watch as he slaughtered his wife and two sons in a bid to rid their home of ‘demons’, investigators have claimed.
Giovanni Barreca, 54, confessed to murdering his wife Antonella Salamone, 40, and their sons Kevin, 15, and Emanuel, five, at their house in Altavilla Milicia, near Palermo.
A couple, who have been dubbed ‘religious fanatics’ by locals are accused of acting as his accomplices in the killings.
Massimo Carandente and Sabrina Fina were arrested after Barreca called the Carabinieri on Saturday night, reportedly telling them: ‘I killed my family, I am waiting for you to come and get me… there was a demon in the house.’
The children are said to have been strangled, with one of the boys found in chains. Police discovered their bodies inside the family home, ANSA reports, while their mother’s charred remains were located buried in the garden.
The killings may have taken place over several days, with initial examinations of the bodies suggesting that the boys were murdered last Friday while their mother was killed earlier in the week.
The only family member who was spared was Barreca’s daughter, who was found in her bedroom and is said to be in a state of shock.
Police are looking into whether the teenager was drugged and forced to watch the massacre, La Stampa reports, and have been speaking to the girl.
‘He wanted to free us from the devil,’ she reportedly told investigators.
‘My father was convinced that the house was haunted by the devil.’
Police have described the testimony as ‘interesting’ as they work to ascertain whether the killings were part of a sickening exorcism ritual.
Neighbours have alleged that Barreca beat his wife and that he had a bizarre obsession with Satan, sending them links and even believing that cats were animals of the devil.
Barreca told prosecutors that he has wanted to free his victims of ‘demons’ and he is alleged to have been encouraged by Carandente and Fina.
The trio met during a prayer meeting at an evangelical church.
An arrest order for Carandente and Fina was issued yesterday and police managed to track them down using Barreca’s phone and locals’ testimony.
The couple, both from Palermo, were taken to the prosecutor’s office and are facing multiple murder charges.