In February 1936, the body of Giuseppe “Pepe” Veraldi was found under a bridge in Catanzaro, Italy. He had apparently jumped off the bridge, gashed his head open on the rocky riverbed thirty feet below, and drowned in shallow water. A police investigation pointed to suicide. His family disagreed, seeing no reason why Giuseppe might want to kill himself.
Three years later in January 1939, a teenager named Maria Talarico happened to walk near the bridge where Veraldi’s body was discovered. She collapsed unconscious and was taken home. When she woke, Maria spoke in a deeper, somewhat harsh voice that sounded male. The seemingly possessed young girl said her name was “Pepe.” The spirit of Giuseppe Veraldi demanded to speak to his widowed mother.
While waiting for Mrs. Catarina Veraldi, Maria asked for wine, cigarettes, and playing cards, inviting neighbors to join her in a game—very atypical behavior according to her own mother. She called some of the men present by the names of four of Giuseppe’s known friends.When Mrs. Veraldi arrived at the Talarico home, she was amazed to hear her son’s voice coming from the teenage girl.
“Pepe” said his friends had murdered him by tossing him off the bridge and beating him to death with an iron bar. As soon as she made the confession, Maria ran out of the house to the bridge and lay down in the exact position of Giuseppe’s body. An appalled Mrs. Veraldi insisted her son stop possessing Maria immediately.
The girl awakened without any memory of the evening’s bizarre events.Nine years later, Mrs. Veraldi received a letter from Luigi “Toto” Marchete, one of her son’s friends who had left Italy shortly after Giuseppe’s death. Luigi confessed he had killed Giuseppe in a jealous rage over a woman. Three other mutual friends—the men named by the possessed Maria—had helped him.
The details in the letter were consistent with the story told by “Pepe.” Since one of the men had already died and Luigi was in Argentina, the other two accomplices were arrested by the police, tried for the murder, and sentenced to jail.Maria didn’t know Giuseppe Veraldi, nor did any of her family, friends, or neighbors. How had she known the truth of his violent death? Some believe she was possessed by the spirit of the murdered man. The enigma has continued to baffle researchers.
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