Tag Archives: Trace evidence

Forensic Geology And The Unsolved Murder Mystery of Italian Politician AldoMoro.

BY COURTESY OF WWW.FORBES.COM

Case History :-

March 16, 1978, on a street of Rome five bodyguards were gunned down and Italian prime minister Aldo Moro kidnapped. Some days later the first messages from the Brigate Rosse, a terrorist organization active at the time in Italy, was sent to the authorities. The Italian government was unsure how to deal with the demands. The Italian state refused to negotiate with terrorists, but Moro was a popular politician and the Italian people demanded actions to save his life. Time passed, messages were exchanged, but nothing happened. On the morning of May 8, an anonymous telephone call informed the authorities of a car parked car in the center of Rome. Inside the car, the police found Aldo Moro, killed with a series of gunshots. Investigators immediately started to collect evidence. During the autopsy, small traces of sand were found on Moro’s trousers. Traces of geological material were also collected from the shoes and inside the car.

Questions Arises Before Forensic Experts :-

Forensic geologists had to answer two important questions.
Could the geological evidence be tracked back to the site, where Moro was killed or his body dumped into the car?
▪Could the geological evidence say when this happened?

Expert’s Findings :-

The grain-shape and size distribution can help to identify the environment where the sand was deposited. All the sand, from Moro’s clothing as from the interior of the car, was identical, suggesting that the body was dumped into the car where Moro was killed. It was clean sand, without mineralogical impurities, of uniform grain-size and very well sorted. Such sand forms only along a modern beach. There the grains are smoothed, rounded and sorted by the constant motion of waves. This interpretation was supported also by the presence of marine shells and microfossils in the samples. The evidence suggested that Moro was killed on a beach near Rome. The microfossils were later identified as species belonging into the Miocene, eroded from rocky outcrops not found along the sea, but transported by a river to the sea. This was an important discovery, as it suggested that “the supposed site of the crime was located near the delta of the river Tiber”, the only river where outcrops of Miocene rocks are found. Also, some grains of igneous rocks, recovered from Moro’s shoes, supported this idea. The city of Rome is surrounded by hills of volcanic origin and only the Tiber can transport grains of igneous rocks to the sea. Sampling showed that sand from a seven miles long segment of the beach, located north of the delta of the Tiber, matched the sand found on Moro’s corpse and inside the car.

Contradiction In Terms ::

But there was a problem. Traces of asphalt were found on the tires of the car, suggesting that the car only moved on roads, never on the sand of a beach. However, a more careful analysis revealed that the asphalt was of very poor quality. It was unrefined bitumen, derived from the pollution of a nearby oil-tanker terminal, washed ashore and mixed into the sand. Traces of this kind of bitumen were found also inside the car. Moro’s kidnappers walked on the contaminated sand not long before the car was found, as the bitumen was still fresh. This last observation suggested that Moro was killed just before the discovery of the body. A more close investigation showed that on the shoes, below the layer of beach sand, there was also a layer of volcanic soil. Applying the principle of sedimentary superposition, as the layer of the volcanic soil is covered by the layer of sand it must be older, the forensic geologists suggested a possible scenario for Moro’s last days. Moro was imprisoned, before being relocated to the beach, somewhere inland, maybe south-east of Rome where on easily erodible volcanic rocks clay-rich soils formed over time. Only years later the investigators found an apartment, in the south-eastern suburbs of Rome, where Moro probably was imprisoned for some time.

Various suspected murderers were arrested during a raid against the Brigate Rosse. Based on the confessions of the suspects the crime was reconstructed as follows ::

The bodyguards were killed by a commando, hiding along the street where another terrorist blocked Moro’s car. Moro was then “kidnapped and held captive for fifty-five days in the anonymous apartment near Rome”, where he was finally forced into the trunk of the car and killed. The car was then parked in the center of Rome and one of the kidnappers called the police. But this confession doesn’t fit with all the geological evidence recovered.

As stated by Kidnappers :-

According to the kidnappers, Moro was never near the beach, like the samples of sand suggested.
“The kidnappers claim to have tried to mislead the investigators by pouring water and sand onto the victim and into the car. “

Experts Opinion on Kidnappers Statement :-

However, experts don’t believe that it is possible to fake all the traces found in the car and on Moro’s corpse this way. More important, why such efforts to create evidence most people wouldn’t even realize is there?”
Forensic geologists doubt that the killers at the time would have been aware of grains of sand as possible evidence for a crime. The supposed site of Moro’s imprisonment along the beach was never found.

Some Questions Remained Unanswered………………