The remains of a child have been found 16 days after a four-year-old boy disappeared with his mother near a coastal motorway in Sicily.
Amid a mystery that has shocked Italians, investigators said they were 99% sure that Gioele Mondello’s body had been found.
The body of his mother, DJ Viviana Parisi, was found earlier near an electric pylon after a minor accident.
Her death and the search for her son have gripped Italy all month.
The child’s remains were eventually found by a volunteer military policeman some 200m from the main Messina to Palermo road, where Parisi had been involved in an accident. Her body had been found some 400m away from the site of the latest gruesome discovery.
Prosecutor Angelo Cavallo says investigators are working on three hypotheses for the boy’s death – a murder-suicide, an attack by wild animals or a sexual assault. His mother’s death is being seen as either an accident, suicide or murder.
What do we know?
Viviana Parisi had taken her son on a shopping trip to buy shoes in her grey Opel Corsa car when they were involved in a minor collision with a van carrying workers in a tunnel on Sicily’s northern coastal highway.
The Corsa had a punctured tyre, so Parisi stopped the car once they had left the tunnel.
A private CCTV camera later captured the pair in their car and authorities appealed for family who stopped to help them to come forward. A phone call by other witnesses was also made to an emergency number reporting the accident.
Parisi was seen climbing over the guard rail beside the road and walking away. One witness described her as “extremely agitated”, Ansa news agency reported. The family eventually told police that she had been carrying Gioele in her arms and he was unhurt.
The DJ, originally from the northern city of Turin, had suffered a recent psychological breakdown, and her condition had been reportedly aggravated by the coronavirus lockdown in Italy.
However, her husband, fellow DJ Daniele Mondello, insisted she had been calm and well on the morning of her disappearance.
“Viviana didn’t kill him, she loved him too much,” he said, also disputing the theory that she had been attacked by wild animals.
It was five days before Parisi’s decomposed body was found below a high-voltage pylon in scrubland near the town of Caronia. She had suffered a broken arm, possibly from a fall from the pylon, and animal bites.
Ever since, several police units, firefighters and a mountain rescue team have taken part in the search for her son.
Eventually, the child’s remains were also found. Reports suggested his body had been dismembered by wild animals. A DNA test is being carried out to confirm his identity.