By Francesco Amicone
He did not turn himself into the police «to keep others out of troubles». A retired American soldier admitted his guilt for the crimes attributed to the Monster of Florence between 1974 and 1985. According to an unpublished testimony transmitted in recent weeks to the Prosecutor’s Office at the Florence Court, the man now eighty-two years old had confided to his biographer of being the serial killer already known in the United States with the name of “Zodiac”, during a phone call dating back to a few months ago.
The admissions are supported by biographical compatibility and some solutions to the encrypted messages that the American maniac sent to the press between 1969 and 1974. The American would be “Ulysses”, a subject never identified for sure who was pointed out by postman of San Casciano Mario Vanni as the only responsible for the Monster’s murders, in a conversation intercepted on June 30, 2003, at the Don Bosco prison in Pisa.
“The monster is American”
The four-pages statement under consideration by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Florence was delivered to Il Giornale through the magazine Tempi. It includes the admission of responsibility of the alleged mass murderer who killed at least seven young couples at lovers’ lanes in the Florence countryside in just over ten years. The author of the confidences is a retired US official with deep knowledge of the Florentine territory who apparently never raised suspicions until a few months ago. In his twenty-year career in the army, he had only been involved in an isolated “blood matter” in Vietnam.
This testimony reports that Ulysses, in addition of being the real author of the crimes of the couples in Florence, is also a serial killer who murdered six persons in California between 1966 and 1974, signing his claims by letter with the nickname “Zodiac”. The man admitted his responsibilities in a phone call on September 11, 2017, which was reported to the Carabinieri on March 1, 2018. The witness recently spoke to the judiciary police in Florence.
The “companions of snacks”
The context in which Ulysses’s admissions matured is the culmination of investigations and trials that have not led to any conviction for three out of seven attacks. The other murders are only partially “solved”.
The outcome of the trials on the Monster’s crimes is a condemnation of alleged accomplices of an alleged serial killer, Pietro Pacciani “Vampa”, who ended his earthly existence on February 22, 1998, after the cancellation of an absolution.
Many magistrates, lawyers, and journalists have contested to date the accusatory theory that behind the murders of couples on the lovers’ lanes around Florence between 1974 and 1985 there was a shabby village gang composed by Pacciani, the postman Vanni, called Torsolo, and Giancarlo Lotti “Garibaldi”. The killer had left few traces of himself and knew how to juggle with a gun and knife. The “companions of snacks”, as they were nicknamed, would hardly have known how to avoid capture in the 1980s. Furthermore, the only “firearm” actually found to them was a cap gun.
Lotti at the trial originating from his declarations took on “complicities” in the murders which are still unproven, accusing Vanni and Pacciani of the crimes. Despite the contrary opinion of the Prosecutor General of Florence, Lotti and Vanni were definitively condemned in 2000 as accomplices for four double murders committed by the alleged Monster Pacciani, who died before the end of the trial.
Meetings with “Ulysses”
The story that led to Ulysses’sadmissions began just before the summer of 2017, told the statement written by a witness, a journalist. who was investigating the Monster case and met Ulysses and became his “biographer”. The American, after having told the journalist about his life during various meetings, admitted on the phone that he was responsible for the crimes both of the Monster and Zodiac.
The first meeting between the witness and the alleged serial killer took place in May 2017. Ulysses seemed rather nervous during the conversation. The witness had come to Ulysses’s house without referring to the sad story of murders that had prompted him to know his interlocutor, but the American made him understand with some allusions that he had sensed it.
In one of the following meetings, the document continues, the witness proposed himself to Ulysses as a biographer. The American accepted. At the end of July, the witness asked him for an opinion on the Monster of Florence. A few hours before, the first news about another alleged complicity in the murders of the serial killer, this time of the former soldier of the Foreign Legion Giampiero Vigilanti, had been leaked.
Before talking openly about the Florentine crimes, the witness asked Ulysses if he has been near Lake Tahoe, the scene of one of the possible Zodiac crimes in the United States, in 1970. «After a silence that lasted twenty seconds,» the American confirmed. He was there, but «I couldn’t talk about those years because of my job,» he added.
Ulysses told his biographer he stayed in 1969 in northern California, on a base south of Santa Rosa, and in Riverside, south of the American state, in 1966. The years and places matched the known activities of the serial killer. Any remaining doubts disappeared at this point, the witness says. It seemed that Ulysses was “the American” of whom Vanni had confusedly told his friend Lorenzo Nesi while in prison in Pisa in 2003, that “black man” who had been the subject of a confidence attributable to Pacciani and whom Vanni perhaps had misunderstood the skin color.
Ulysses, who is not an African American, revealed to the biographer that he «had seen Pacciani several times in the woods,» also indicating the area near San Casciano in Val di Pesa that the farmer and he used to frequent.
Ulysses is military trained. «Twenty years in the army, ten of which in the Military Police. He is also a Vietnam war veteran,» reports the document under examination by the Florence prosecutor. He is also a polyglot who speaks both English and Italian and has known our country since the early 1960s. In those days, Ulysses was a soldier in Camp Darby and Livorno. After his retirement from the Army, in July 1974, he settled in a country near Florence. A few months had passed since Zodiac’s last “official” letter of January 29, 1974. Fewer months elapsed when the monster’s first manic crime occurred on September 14, 1974.
One of the elements that the journalist brings in support of his accusations is Ulysses’s day of birth, December 20. The San Francisco FBI, in a telegram dated January 14, 1970, informed the Bureau in Washington that in the previous days an alleged Zodiac had telephoned the home of the well-known lawyer Melvin Belli.
Attorney’s housekeeper informed the man on the other end of the line that Belli was absent because was in Europe. «I can’t wait. Today’s my birthday,» had been the reply. During the same period, an envelope postmarked December 20, 1969, containing a letter in which the maniac asked Belli for help, arrived at the lawyer’s house. The letter read: «I can’t stay in control for much longer». Zodiac had killed a couple on a lovers’ lane in Vallejo one year before, on December 20, 1968.
«Do you want to break Monster’s balls?»
The witness says that on one occasion Ulysses was angry with his persistent questions. «Do you want to break Monster’s balls?» he said with a tone of intimidation. «No,», his biographer replied, reminding him that the Carabinieri were still investigating. «Do you think they are going to break my balls?», the American asked.
In another meeting, the witness submitted some documents to Ulysses, including two encrypted Zodiac texts that would have been partly solved thanks to his indications (both would lead to his name and surname).
It is singular, the witness observes, that by opening the book of the Zodiac by Robert Graysmith apparently at random, Ulysses lingered on an episode that was a source of pride for the murderer in one of his letters. It was October 11, 1969, minutes after Paul Stine’s murder in San Francisco. The serial killer sidetracked a pair of policemen pointing the direction where he said he saw a suspect flee.
The witness said that the American was aware of the biographical details of some people involved in the Zodiac case. He knew Dave Toschi, the San Francisco police detective who had investigated the murder of Stine, and hinted that he knew that Robert Graysmith, author of the first bestseller on the maniac, had changed his last name.
«They’ll kill Vanni»
One day, the witness submitted to Ulysses Xerox copies of some pages of the book “Delitto degli Scopeti” by Vieri Adriani, Francesco Cappelletti, and Salvatore Maugeri. The writers reconstructed the French couple Jean-Michel Kraveichvili and Nadine Mauriot’s travel in Italy through receipts found in their car. They are the last Monster’s official victims. After taking a look at the places visited, Ulysses, apparently surprised, commented: «They are all places where I go.» The American, in particular, assiduously frequented “La Terrazza”, famous bar in Tirrenia, near Camp Darby, where one of the last receipts kept by the victims was issued.
The witness said he read Ulysses the conversation in which Vanni claimed that the real Monster of Florence was American. Upon reading those few lines, Ulysses barely held back his anger and burst out: «I think they will kill him.» «Will they kill who?» the witness asked. «Vanni.» The postman was already dead, but the witness did not update the interlocutor. He reassured him by saying that the investigators had believed that Vanni had alluded to Mario Parker, a tenant of the 1980s in the depandance of Villa La Sfacciata, a historic building on the edge of one of the crime scenes of the Monster.
Ulysses did not want to put others in trouble
On September 11, 2017, the biographer had in his hand a solution of the cipher of 13 symbols that conceals the Zodiac’s identity. He decided to call his client. The biographer abruptly interrupted any pleasantries to inform Ulysses: «Your name and surname are on the Zodiac’s letter of April 20, 1970. Now I read the solution.» The witness reports that Ulysses did not deny. He was scared. He mentioned the names of some comrades of his in the army who would know his second life. «They knew it.» He claimed he hadn’t turned himself in «not to put others in trouble.»
The witness suggested Ulysses to handed over to the Carabinieri – as “Zodiac” and “Monster of Florence” – possibly with the help of a Catholic priest. «What should I bring to the Carabinieri?» Ulysses asked hesitantly, «the gun?». The witness gave him the number of a lawyer to consult with, but the interview with the counselor resulted in an afterthought. Two days later, Ulysses retracted his admissions and quarreled with his biographer, while he was in Florence to accompany him to the Carabinieri. Since then, it was on September 13, the witness has no longer had contact with the American.
Ulysses has not yet turned himself in.