Is Benno Neumair a cold calculator capable of manipulating those around him to build an alibi or does he have mental health problems? The answer to this question depends on the extent of the sentence that the judges of Bolzano are about to inflict on the 31-year-old from Bolzano who, on 4 January 2021, killed his parents, Peter Neumair and Laura Perselliand then threw their bodies into the Adige River.
The prosecution asked for life imprisonmentarguing that the young man acted “with full conscience and will”. For the defenders, who focus on semi-mental illness, “it was the disease, a serious narcissistic personality disorder, that guided Benno’s hand». For civil party lawyers, the boy is fully capable of understanding and wanting. But who is really Benno Neumair?
At first glance, a model boy. Angel face, sculpted physique, fitness lover and math and science teacher in a German language school in Bolzano. His parents are both retired teachers, his sister Madè is a doctor in Germany. They live with the dog in a beautiful little house in via Castel Roncolo in Bolzano.
Apparently they are happy. But Benno is acting strange. He has a fixation on the physique, he spends hours training, showing off his muscles on social networks, abuses anabolic steroids and overreacts when his mistakes are pointed out to him.the. Her mother, Laura Perselli, fears that Benno could harm her and her husband. She even goes so far as to hide the knives. She confided this to a friend a few weeks before the crime: “I know he needs affection, but when he gets angry he’s scary.” Well-founded concerns: some time before, after an argument with his ex-girlfriend, Benno was hospitalized for psychiatric problems.
It is Nandine, a nurse in Bavaria, who told the judges on April 13th. “Living with him was difficult. She secretly took my money and lied all the time », tells. She specifies that she met Benno on Tinder in September 2019 and that he had moved into her house. A fairytale start, then he changed: «In March he fasted for nine days», says Nandine, «he only drank tea and water and ate broccoli and millet. At one point I noticed some strange expenses I made with my ATM in an organic grocery store. He said he didn’t know anything about it, but I found food supplies in the attic. We argued furiously.” Two days later, Benno calls her saying that he was attacked by a friend of hers. “I found him in the bathroom holding a knife. He had punctate wounds on his face, he told me he was beaten. I told him I believed him and made him talk. I managed to take the knife back to the kitchen. I called the police. He had injured himself by taking blood, injecting it into the corner of his eye and mouth, abrading his skin with emery paper».
Strange episodes, which act as a lugubrious prelude to what happens on January 4, 2021when Benno Neumair reports missing parents. “They loved to take long walks,” he explains to the carabinieri, “they didn’t come home.” For days he makes himself available for research, he seems seriously worried. But those who know him well, like his sister Made, suspect him and talk about it with investigators who, on January 19, after discovering his attempts to sidetrack the investigation, investigate him, and ten days later arrest him. On February 6, the Adige River returns the body of Laura Perselli. It will take April 27 to find Peter Neumair’s. But in the meantime, having learned of the discovery of his mother, Benno confesses.
In Bolzano prison he tells of having killed his father first. «An argument broke out about money, she insisted that I had to leave the house, that my sister was paying for an apartment in Germany by herself», she explains, «I grabbed the first climbing rope I could find. We were in the corridor, we fell to the ground. I squeezed very tight». Then he waits for the return of her mother, who had left her, and kills her too: «she came in, I still had the string in my hand and I felt like doing the same thing, without even saying goodbye». Having committed the crime, he immediately sets about building an alibi for himself. “I phoned Mom. I told myself I had to try to be normal. I called my friend, warning her that I would be arriving».
The friend is Martina, a girl Benno has been dating for a while. Before going to her, he loads the parents’ bodies into the car and throws them into the Adige. He asks if she can take a shower and then has her clothes put in the washing machine. At dawn the next day she goes home and cleans up: «At the entrance to the library there was a patch of dad’s blood. I quickly cleaned the blood at the entrance with the Cif». In the following days he buys hydrogen peroxide to erase the traces of blood and then, together with another friend, takes the car to a car wash, but is stopped and charged with multiple aggravated voluntary homicide and concealment of a body.
Subjected to a psychiatric report, the experts appointed by the judge for the preliminary investigations conclude that Benno Neumair would have killed his father in a state of mental illness, following the violent quarrel, while he would have been very lucid at the time of his mother’s murder. «There was a previous pathology», the experts explain in the courtroom, «the first signs came when, at the age of just 7, the principal of the school attended by Benno advised his parents to have him examined by a specialist».
The prosecutor and the civil parties disagree: «The circumstance of the quarrel with the father is reported only by Benno». For the consultants of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, then, the young person would be fully capable of understanding and wanting: «Benno», they explain to the judges, «decided to kill his mother to eliminate a witness of the first crime and he himself explained that he organized the ambush by settling down behind the door waiting for her arrival: this is perfectly lucid behaviour, and represents the immediately following phase of the first murder. If Benno had been altered during the killing of his father, he could not have recovered so quickly and premeditated the second crime with lucidity”. For the defense experts, however, the young man would even have a brain defect that can be detected through magnetic resonance: “The gray matter is missing in the right area of the hippocampus”. A fact that would demonstrate his personality disorders and semi-insanity.
At the trial Benno did not confirm his confession: “I tried to erase from my memory what happened on January 4”, he said in court on September 5 last year. At the last hearing, however, he did not appear. What will the Court of Assist of Bolzano decide?
Source: Vanity Fair
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