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Two American tourists, aged 18 and 19, confess to killing an Italian cop during a bungled drug deal

Two San Francisco teens on a ‘drug holiday’ in Rome have been arrested in the Italian capital on charges of murder and attempted extortion in connection with the fatally stabbing of a police officer on Friday morning.

Lee Elder Finnegan, 19, confessed to stabbing 35-year-old paramilitary policeman Mario Cerciello Rega to death during an apparent drug deal gone wrong, Italian authorities said Saturday. 

A second California native, Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, 18, was also involved in the scuffle that led to the fatal stabbing, police say.

In a statement, Roman police revealed that both of the men had been interrogated by Carabinieri officials and, ‘in the face of overwhelming evidence’, they eventually confessed to the crimes.

Roman police revealed that both of the men had been interrogated by Carabinieri officials and, ‘in the face of overwhelming evidence’, they eventually confessed to the crimes

Lee Elder Finnegan, 19, and Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, 18, confessed to fatally stabbing 35-year-old paramilitary policeman during an apparent drug deal gone wrong, Italian authorities said Saturday

The death of the victim, Mario Cerciello Rega, shook Italians and has dominated headlines across the country, with early reports suggesting the murderers were North African, prompting an outpouring of anti-migrant messages on social media

The death of the victim, Mario Cerciello Rega, shook Italians and has dominated headlines across the country, with early reports suggesting the murderers were North African, prompting an outpouring of anti-migrant messages on social media

During the reported confession, the two teens are said to have told officials they’d been looking to buy drugs in Rome’s Trastevere district at 2am on Friday when they asked a local man where they could find a dealer.

‘The man pointed them to a supplier, who reportedly sold them crushed medicine instead of cocaine,’ a Carabinieri spokesman said.

Finnegan and Hjorth apparently realized they’d been defrauded when they attempted to snort the white powder but realized it was aspirin.

They were then captured on CCTV returning to the square, hoping to track down the dealer who had sold them the faux cocaine.

Their search for the dealer failed, but they did find the bystander who pointed them in his direction, and, believing him to be an accomplice, the pair stole his bag and returned to their hotel.

The owner of the bag rang his phone – which was still inside the backpack – and the two tourists demanded he pay them 100 euros and give them a gram of cocaine to see it returned.

The man agreed. However, instead of going to meet the men himself, he called police who sent two plain clothes officers to quiz the men.

The two officers approached Finnegan and Hjort and announced they were Carabinieri, but after brief exchange of words Finnegan pulled out a knife and stabbed Rega several times

The two officers approached Finnegan and Hjort and announced they were Carabinieri, but after brief exchange of words Finnegan pulled out a knife and stabbed Rega several times

Rega, who had just turned to work from his honeymoon, suffered eight stab wounds and later died in hospital from his injuries

Rega, who had just turned to work from his honeymoon, suffered eight stab wounds and later died in hospital from his injuries

The wife of the murdered Carabinieri vice brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega arrives at Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, Italy, 26 July 2019

The wife of the murdered Carabinieri vice brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega arrives at Santo Spirito hospital in Rome, Italy, 26 July 2019

The two officers approached Finnegan and Hjort and announced they were Carabinieri, but after brief exchange of words Finnegan pulled out a knife and stabbed Rega several times.

The police said that the pair ‘did not hesitate to engage in a scuffle which culminated in the tragic deadly wounding of Mario Rega Cerciello.’

Rega, who had just turned to work from his honeymoon, suffered eight stab wounds to his back and chest. He later died in hospital from his injuries, with one of the blows having struck his heart.

The Carabinieri said video surveillance cameras and witnesses allowed them to quickly identify the two Americans and find them in a hotel near the scene of the slaying. Police said the two Americans were ‘ready to leave’ Italy when they were found.

Also found in the room was the knife – which was of ‘considerable size’ – used to kill Rega and the clothes worn by the pair in the attack, hidden behind ceiling tiles in their room.

The Carabinieri said video surveillance cameras and witnesses allowed them to quickly identify the two Americans and find them in a hotel near the scene of the slaying. Police said the two Americans were ‘ready to leave’ Italy when they were found

The Carabinieri said video surveillance cameras and witnesses allowed them to quickly identify the two Americans and find them in a hotel near the scene of the slaying. Police said the two Americans were ‘ready to leave’ Italy when they were found

Also found in the room was the knife – which was of ‘considerable size’ – used to kill Rega and the clothes worn by the pair in the attack, hidden behind ceiling tiles in their room

Also found in the room was the knife – which was of ‘considerable size’ – used to kill Rega and the clothes worn by the pair in the attack, hidden behind ceiling tiles in their room

‘After their arrest, Elder Finnegan confessed on Friday night,’ the spokesman revealed.

Both of the teens been placed in custody for aggravated homicide and attempted extortion but are yet to be formally charged.

The news of Rega’s death shook Italians and has dominated headlines across the country, with early reports suggesting the murderers were North African, prompting an outpouring of anti-migrant messages on social media.

Italy’s hard-line Interior minister Matteo Salvini, who has campaigned against migration, demanded ‘hard labor for life … for these bastards.’

The funeral of Brigadier Cerciello Rega is to be held on Monday in the city of Somma Vesuviana, in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, at the same church where he was married less than two months ago.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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