Donato Bilancia

Donato Bilancia

Donato Bilancia
Also known as: Prostitutes Killer, Liguria Monster
Born: July 10, 1951
Potenza, Italy
Number of victims: 17
Span of killings: 1997–1998
Country: Italy
Date apprehended: May 6, 1998

Donato Bilancia: (born July 10, 1951 in Potenza, Italy) is an Italian serial killer.

Bilancia killed at least 17 people in Liguria, Italy from October 1997 to May 1998. On April 12, 2000 he was sentenced to 17 terms of life imprisonment for murder in 17 cases plus one additional sentence of 14 years of prison for one case of attempted murder.


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Bilancia was born in Potenza on July 10, 1951, before his family moved to Genoa in 1956. He grew up having a difficult relationship with his family and early on turned to theft and burglary as a source of income. In 1975 he was arrested for thievery and later, in 1976, was arrested again for robbery, but was able to escape from custody.

In 1982 his brother, carrying his infant child, threw himself before a train in a Genoa train station, which reportedly had a grave effect on Donato and caused his mental disorders to become more defined.

In 1990 he was seriously injured in a car accident and remained in a coma for several days.

Besides theft and burglary, he began to gamble on a regular basis and later declared to the Carabinieri that he used to win and lose great sums of money in a single night, but had always remained an “honest” player who paid his debts and maintained his word. He went by the name ‘Walter’ in the clandestine gambling houses he visited.

First Murders

On October 16, 1997, Bilancia killed Giorgio Centanaro in his house, strangling him with adhesive tape. However, the death was falsely determined to be derived from natural causes because the investigators didn’t find any clues that pointed to murder. Bilancia confessed the crime after his arrest, saying that he killed Centanaro because he had dishonoured him and had cheated at the gambling table.

On October 24, 1997, he killed Maurizio Parenti and his wife Carla Scotto in their house for the same reason, thinking that Parenti and his first victim Centanaro were gambling partners. He fled the house with 13 million Italian lire (about 6.500 Euros or 9.500 US-Dollars) and some valuable items.

On October 27, 1997, he killed Bruno Solari and his wife Maria Luigia Pitto after he broke in their house to rob them.

On November 13, 1997, he killed Luciano Marro, a money changer living in Ventimiglia, and fled with 45 million Italian lire (about 22.500 Euros or 33.000 US-Dollars).

On January 25, 1998, he killed Giangiorgio Canu, a night security guard, in Genoa and later stated that his only motive was his intention to take revenge on the police forces.

The Prostitute Killings

On March 9, 1998, Bilancia shot to death Stela Truya, an Albanian prostitute, in Varazze.

On March 18, 1998, he killed Ukrainian prostitute Ljudmyla Zubskova in Pietra Ligure with a bullet to her head.

On March 20, 1998, he robbed and killed another money changer, Enzo Gorni, again in Ventimiglia. The victim’s brother in law witnessed Bilancia’s escape in a black Mercedes.

On March 24, 1998, Bilancia attempted to kill transsexual “Lorena” Castro in Novi Ligure, but Castro figured his intentions and fled with the help of two security guards that were patrolling the area. Bilancia immobilized both guards with gunshot wounds, and upon catching up with Castro shot her in the chest and left her for dead. Afterwards, he returned to the wounded guards, Massimiliano Garillo and Candido Randò, and executed them with bullets to their heads.

On March 29, 1998, he killed Nigerian prostitute Tessy Adobo in Cogoleto. This murder was a turning point for the investigation since the crime was connected to the murder of Stela Truya and, later on, to the murders of the other prostitutes. It was the ballistic studies of the RIS of Parma that revealed the uniqueness of the weapon used.

The Railroad Murders and The Liguria Monster

When the investigating police forces came up with an increasingly detailed profile, Bilancia altered his modus operandi. A detailed criminological profile had been established mainly thanks to the testimony of surviving witness Castro who could contribute accurate information on her attacker’s black Mercedes as well as numerous details regarding his appearance, leading to the issue of an accurate identikit of the “Monster”.

On April 12, 1998, Bilancia used his burglar skills to picklock a bathroom on the La Spezia-Venezia InterCity, where he shot passenger Elisabetta Zoppetti to death.

On April 14, 1998, he killed another prostitute, Kristina Valla.

On April 18, 1998, he killed passenger Maria Angela Rubino on a train between Genoa and Ventimiglia.

Following the killer’s move from the relatively segregated environment of street prostitution to a totally random choice of his victims on trains, the case of the Liguria Monster immediately became national top news on television and in newspapers. The police forces’ intense investigation into the serial killings further fueled the public interest. At that time, two suspects were investigated, but ultimately none of them had any involvement in the case. Meanwhile, the police kept searching for the two cars used by the killer, a black Mercedes and a white Opel Kadett.

Then, on April 21, 1998, Bilancia robbed and killed his last victim, gas station attendant Giuseppe Mileto, in Arma di Taggia.

The Capture

The final turning point in the investigation came when the Carabinieri received a report on the theft of a black Mercedes, which had been given to a man for a test drive, but has never been returned. Upon checking on the vehicle’s recipient, the Carabinieri found an almost perfect mat
ch between Bilancia and the composite sketch established with Castro’s help. Moreover, cross-ckecks of the tire tracks found at some of the crime scenes with those of the seized Mercedes produced identical matches, as did comparisons of Bilancia’s DNA (collected from cigarette butts and from a cup of coffee) with DNA traces of the killer collected in the field.

Donato Bilancia was arrested on May 6, 1998, and, after few days, gave a spontaneous confession of all the murders, including the death of Giorgio Centenaro, which had previously been assumed to be a natural death.

On April 12, 2000, the Genoa court pronounced the sentence of 17 terms of life imprisonment for the murders and an additional 14 years for the attempted murder of Lorena Castro.

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