Nicola Sapone


Nicola Sapone

The Beasts of Satan

Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Satanic cult - Ritual murders
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: January 17, 1998 / January 24, 2004
Date of birth: January 28, 1977
Victims profile: Fabio Tollis, 16, and Chiara Marino, 16 / Mariangela Pezzotta, 27
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife - Hitting with a hammer / Buried alive
Location: Somma Lombardo, Varese, Lombardy, Italy
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on January 31, 2006

The Beasts of Satan were a suspected satanic cult in Italy. The members of this group committed three notorious ritual murders over six years, which shocked Italy upon their discovery. The slayings were called "one of the most shocking crimes in post-war Italy" by the BBC.

Crimes and investigation

First murders

The first incident was a January 1998 double homicide that occurred in the woods near Somma Lombardo, northwest of Milan.

Chiara Marino, shop assistant, aged 19, and her boyfriend Fabio Tollis, a 16 year old student and heavy-metal musician, were sacrificially stabbed and beaten in a drug-fueled occult rite involving sex and heavy metal music.

The couple, who had spent a normal Saturday night drinking beer and listening heavy metal music at Midnight Pub, which was the center of the city's metal scene, never returned home. Both Tollis and Marino were stabbed to death by their friends Andrea Volpe, Nicola Sapone and Mario Maccione.

Fabio Tollis, a sturdy young man, desperately tried to defend himself and Chiara but there was nothing he could do. Maccione, Sapone and Volpe later buried the corpses in a large grave in the woods and danced on the graveyard, laughing and screaming "Now you're both zombies! Try to get out of this hole, if you dare!".

The conclusion initially drawn by the authorities at the time was that they had run away together for a love affair as their friend suggested, but this explanation was not accepted by Fabio's father, Michele Tollis, who began his own investigation. Just a few hours before the murder, Nicola Sapone forced Fabio Tollis call home up and say to his father he didn't mean to come back home on that night because he preferred sleeping with his girlfriend. Michele Tollis noticed something strange and immediately reached the Midnight to have a word with his son. Unfortunately, it was too late: Fabio and Chiara had already left with their presumed friend for Somma Lombardo and never came back.

Michele Tollis discovered just how deeply they had become involved in satanism and the occult; both common themes of the black metal and death metal genres that his son and friends were interested in. Becoming convinced of a connection between satanism and their disappearance, over six years he steadily constructed a file on their activities and the bands in which they had played. When the third murder occurred, Tollis took his findings to the police, who used them to link all three murders to Andrea Volpe and the wider satanic sect.

Third murder and revelations

The third murder was committed in January 2004. Mariangela Pezzotta, 27-year-old shop assistant, further girlfriend of group member Andrea Volpe was first shot and later buried when was still alive in a greenhouse into the nearby of Golasecca not far from Somma Lombardo.

Andrea Volpe was arrested shortly after with his young fianceé, a 18-year-old student named Elisabetta Ballarin. Both Volpe and Ballarin were upset because of alcohol and drug addiction. Volpe confessed he invited Mariangela Pezzotta for dinner but had already decided to kill her because she knew too many details about the sect and Tollis and Marino's murder. Volpe shot her after a violent fight, then called Nicola Sapone up and they realized she was still alive (Volpe recalled that Sapone accused him "You can't even kill a person!") so they badly tried to hide her into the greenhouse of Ballarin's parents' home. Sapone came back home and pretended nothing had happened. Hours later Volpe and Ballarin took a heavy dose of cocaine and heroin and decided to get rid of Mariangela's car by drowing it on a river into the nearby, but they had a car crash and were arrested. The police investigation of the Pezzotta murder, and interrogation of Volpe using the information provided by Tollis led to the discovery of the buried bodies of Marino and Tollis and the revelation of the sect's existence.

As the investigation continued, Mario Maccione, who presented himself as "the medium" of the group and had been regarded by Tollis as his best friend, confessed to having beaten him to death with a hammer, after Volpe and Sapone had stabbed him and Chiara Marino.

Additionally sect members were accused of pushing their drummer, Andrea Bontade, to commit suicide because he refused to join Volpe and Sapone at Somma Lombardo and help them killing Marino and Tollis. On September 1998, Andrea Bontade drank heavily, than killed himself by crushing with his car. Authorities also investigated whether the group had any links to a possible wider network of Satanists in Italy.


On February 22, 2005 Andrea Volpe and Pietro Guerrieri were sentenced in the northern city of Busto Arsizio to 30 and 16 years respectively. Volpe, in addition to the 1998 murders, was also found guilty of the 2004 slaying of Pezzotta. In Volpe's case the sentence was a decade longer than requested by prosecutors. A third suspect, Mario Maccione, had also confessed to the murders, but was cleared due to his secondary role in the crimes.

The reactions of the victims' families to the sentencing were mixed. Michele Tollis, the father of Fabio, said "Today justice rewarded me." Lina Marino, mother of the slain Chiara, was outraged at the relatively light sentences Volpe and Guerrieri had received, due to their cooperation with prosecutors. She stated "They are murderers. It's not fair."

Five more members of the group went to trial in June 2005 and were sentenced to long prison terms in early 2006. Nicola Sapone, leader of the group and the person suspected as the mastermind behind the killings, received a life sentence. The other four, Paolo Leoni, Marco Zampollo, Eros Monterosso and Elisabetta Ballarin, received sentences between 24 and 26 years for their role in all three murders.

On 2007 the Court of Appeal confirmed the life sentence for Sapone and improved the convictions for other three members of the group: Paolo Leoni passed from 26 years to a life sentence, Marco Zampollo from 26 years to 29 years and 2 months and Eros Monterosso from 24 years to 27 years and 3 months; the sentence for Elisabetta Ballarin was reduced from 24 years and 3 months to 23 years. On May 2008 the last step, Court of Cassazione, confirmed all the Appeal's decisions.


The crimes occurred against the background of growing concern in Italy that Satanism and the occult are becoming an attraction to the Italian youth. In February 2005, a Roman Catholic university connected to the Vatican began offering a two month course on diabolical possession and exorcism for priests and seminarians. In reaction to the crimes priest Don Aldo Buonaito called for death metal to be banned, saying "If music makes itself an instrument of nefarious deeds and death it should be stopped."

In light of the revelations from the Beasts of Satan investigation and trial, and growing public concern, the Italian police intend to create a special unit focusing on new religious sects, particularly Satanists and other violent ritualistic groups. It would coordinate nationwide investigations into potentially dangerous new religious movements, and is planned to include psychologists and a priest who is an expert on the occult.

Satanic Cultists Sentenced For Multiple Murders

February 4, 2006

Members of a brutal Satanic cult were given stiff prison sentences on Tuesday for killing the lead singer of their rock band and two other women in brutal ritual murders that shocked Italy.

Nicola Sapone, one of the leaders of the "Beasts of Satan" rock band, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the double homicide in 1998 of lead singer Fabio Tollis and his girlfriend Chiara Marino. Four other followers of the band received sentences of between 24 and 26 years.

The group claimed that Marino, who was stabbed to death under a full moon, was the personification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was 19 at the time of her murder.

When the Satanic band's singer, Tollis, attempted to prevent the murder, he suffered a blow to his head with a hammer. Sapone then gagged Tolis to silence him and also slit his throat in what Reuters and the Italian media called "an orgy of bloodletting."

After killing the two teenagers, the Satanic band pushed their lifeless bodies into a pit and urinated on them.

These convictions were the most recent for the members and followers of the Beasts of Satan. The convictions follow the high-profile conviction of band leader Andrea Volpe, who received a lighter sentence -- 30 years -- after taking police officers to the location of the bodies, and subsequently confessing to the murders.

Cult members were also convicted for murdering Volpe's ex-girlfriend Mariangela Pezzotta in 2004. She was shot in the mouth and her body was savagely mutilated.

According to Reuters, the Satanic killings sparked fears in Italy of a spread of devil cults, and the Vatican last year started a course for Roman Catholic priests on Satanism and exorcism in response to what the Church said was a worrying interest in the occult, particularly among the young.

The files of a number of other mysterious murders and suicides in northern Milan, particularly those that occurred when the moon was full or new, are being re-opened to see if they are related to the this cult. Links have already been established in two of the cases: the murder of another of Volpe’s girlfriends, Maddalena Russo, which took place on Friday the 13th in September, 1995; and the supposed suicide of another band member, Giuseppe Bontade, in 2000.

According to the leading Catholic exorcist at the Vatican, Father Gabriele Amorth, there are two types: those who adore the Devil, celebrate Satanic masses, have their own priests and hierarchy; and those who don’t believe in Satan, but engage in actions that are either iniquitous or against nature. The latter is more dangerous, said Fr. Amorth in an interview with journalist A.S. Guimaraes.

Italy remains shocked at the brutality of the killings and Catholic Church officials at the Vatican say they are concerned over recent research that showed Satanism was on the increase.

Father Aldo Bonaiuto, one of the Vatican’s team of anti-occult priests, said, "This trial has shown that justice is taking its course. However, the cruelty and gruesomeness linked to the world of Satanism is also very apparent from this case."

Italy jails five Satanic killers

February 1, 2006

Four members of a so-called Satanic sect are starting long prison sentences in Italy for their part in three brutal, ritual murders.

Nicola Sapone, 27, one of the leaders of the Beasts of Satan rock group and one of the suspected masterminds of the killings, was given a life sentence.

The three others were jailed for between 24 and 26 years.

Their victims were a woman shot and buried alive in 2004 and a teenage couple murdered in 1998.

The case has shocked Italy - a devoutly Roman Catholic country that has become increasingly concerned about the spread of Satanic cults.

Sapone's Beasts of Satan colleagues jailed on Tuesday were Paolo Leoni, Marco Zampollo, Eros Monterosso and Elisabetta Ballarin.

Ballarin, 19, was the former girlfriend of Andrea Volpe - a band leader jailed for 30 years last year for his role in the deaths.

They were convicted of the sacrificial stabbing and beating of fellow band members Fabio Tollis, 16, and Chiara Marino, 19, in 1998, and the shooting of 27-year-old Mariangela Pezzotta in 2004.


She had also been Volpe's girlfriend. The bodies of the young couple were only found in woods northeast of Milan after Mariangela's body was found in 2004.

After the sentences were handed down, Chiara Marino's mother Lina shouted: "Leoni, you're going to pay, you're a murderer, 26 years is too little."

Mariangela Pezzotta's father told the AP news agency: "Justice has triumphed."

Another member of the group, Pietro Guerrieri, received a 16-year term last year, while a third man was acquitted

The increasing concern about the influence of cults led to a Roman Catholic college in Rome offering a specialised course in Satanism and exorcism for priests and seminarians.

Investigating the 'death metal' murders

November 23, 2005

One man's relentless search for his missing son led him to uncover one of the most shocking crimes in post-war Italy - a tale of satanism and violence that has gripped the country for more than a year.

In January 1998 Fabio Tollis and Chiara Marino, both just 16, disappeared.

They had been drinking at a pub called the Midnight - the centre of the heavy metal scene in Milan - and they never came home.

The police and many of their friends just thought they had run off together. But their parents refused to accept this.

Michele Tollis, Fabio's father, began to attend metal concerts and festivals across Europe, handing out leaflets and quizzing Fabio's friends.

Fabio and his friends were into the most extreme forms of heavy metal music - death metal and black metal, music obsessed with images of murder and satanism - and the role of this music is central to the story.

It emerged that Chiara, the girl who disappeared with Fabio, had a collection of satanic literature and paraphernalia in her bedroom.

During this search, Michele Tollis became convinced that satanism had something to do with his son's disappearance.

"No one can contradict me when I say that heavy metal and satanism are closely linked. They're inseparable," he says.

Many of Fabio's friends appeared to be evasive when questioned about his whereabouts and Michele became convinced they were hiding something.

Over the next six years he built up a dossier of intelligence about them; who knew whom and which bands they played in.

'Alarm bells'

Then in January 2004 Michele was watching the local news. An item came on reporting a brutal murder in their nearby town of Somma Lombardo.

A young man called Andrea Volpe had been arrested and admitted killing his ex-girlfriend.

Alarm bells went off in Michele's head because Volpe had played in a death metal band with his son. He called the police and arranged a meeting.

"It was a strange story, the one Michele Tollis told," says Teniente Enzo Molinari of the carabinieri.

"But he didn't only tell a story; he backed it up with a very convincing body of paperwork and photographs which he had gathered over the past six years.

"He had carried out a true investigation on the disappearance of his son and his son's girlfriend, all on his own."

Using Michele's dossier of information, the police interrogated Volpe about the disappearances.

Beasts of Satan

Finally Volpe confessed and led the police to where Fabio and Chiara were buried.

Michele's hunt was over, but the revelations were just beginning.

One of Fabio's school friends, Mario Maccione, confessed to having beaten Fabio to death with a hammer.

He also revealed that the boys had been part of a wider satanic sect called the Beasts of Satan.

It was revealed Andrea Bontade, a drummer, had been terrorised into committing suicide.

Soon, other mysterious deaths were being linked to the Beasts.

Controversial lyrics

The case has profoundly shocked Italy, still a very Catholic country.

One priest, Don Aldo Buonaito, has set up a helpline for parents and children worried about satanism.

He has also called for death metal music to be banned.

"If music makes itself an instrument of nefarious deeds and death it should be stopped," he says.

But this is just the latest case where extreme metal music has been blamed for vicious acts by teenagers.

Everyone remembers the secret messages that were supposed to be contained in Ozzy Osbourne's lyrics and the controversy over his track Suicide Solution.

In 1996, the parents of Elyse Marie Pahler took satanic death metal band Slayer to court in the US after their 15-year-old daughter was murdered in what was alleged to be a satanic ritual imitating the band's lyrics.

The case was dismissed by a Californian judge in 2001.

In Norway fans of the even more extreme black metal, burned down more than 40 churches in the 1990s.

One of the favourite bands of the Beasts of Satan sect in Italy was Deicide - an American death metal band led by Glen Benton, a self-professed satanist who has an upside down cross branded into his forehead.

Lack of evidence

Deicide sing about the occult, their most popular anthem being Kill the Christians.

Other death metal bands appear to glorify murder, torture, rape and necrophilia.

Benton is no stranger to controversy - several murders have been linked to his fans - but denies that any singer can be responsible for the actions of their fans.

"I say don't blame people like me and [Marilyn] Manson, because we never said: 'Hey, we're going to be role models for all your kids.' That ain't what this is about. It's about entertainment."

Indeed there is little evidence that ordinary kids can be turned into monsters by music.

But academics who have studied adolescents and music have expressed concerns about the possible effects on children who already have psychological problems.

Professor Don Roberts of Stanford University thinks that perhaps the children who are already violent or depressed are the people who should be kept away from death metal.

"What the music may well be doing is simply reinforcing beliefs that they might have started with in the first place," he says.

Italian 'Beasts of Satan' jailed

February 22, 2005

The Italian mastermind of three gruesome "satanic" murders has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

A second member of the cult involved in the murders received a 16-year term, while a third man was acquitted.

The killings, which shocked Italy, were carried out by a heavy metal band calling itself the Beasts of Satan.

The three victims were a woman shot and then buried alive in 2004 and a teenage couple, who were murdered six years earlier.

Andrea Volpe, the leader of the heavy metal group and the main culprit in the murders, has been handed down a longer prison sentence than expected.

His prosecutors had asked for 20 years on the grounds that had cooperated with investigators and shown remorse.

Pietro Guerrieri is to serve the 16-year term.

Buried alive

"Today justice rewarded me", said Michele Tollis, the father of Fabio, who was only 16 when he was killed and buried along with his 19-year-old girlfriend Chiara in a forest not far from Milan.

But Chiara's mother, Lina Marino, was outraged at the punishment, which she considered too lenient.

"They are murderers. It's not fair," she said.

The 1998 murders were carried out as part of drug fuelled rituals involving sex and heavy metal music.

The couple, themselves members of the heavy metal band, were killed in woods northeast of Milan and then buried next to each other.

Volpe was also found guilty of the 2004 murder of his own girlfriend, 27-year-old Mariangela Pezzotta, who was shot and buried alive in a forest.

It was the discovery of her body that helped investigators solve the 1998 case.

A third defendant was acquitted at the end of the fast-track trial on Tuesday, but five more members of the cult are due to go to trial in June.

Satanist band members jailed for ritual killings

February 22, 2005

Two members of an Italian heavy metal band called the Beasts of Satan were today sentenced to jail for their role in three ritual murders.

Andrea Volpe and Pietro Guerrieri had confessed to roles in the 1998 killings of Chiara Marino, 19, and 16-year-old Fabio Tollis in woods outside Milan. Volpe - considered to have been the mastermind of the ritual killings - was sentenced to 30 years, 10 more than prosecutors had asked for. Guerrieri was given 16 years.

Mario Maccione, who also confessed to the killings, was cleared because he had played a secondary role. Five other members of their suspected Satanic cult have been ordered to stand trial in June.

"Today, justice rewarded me," Michele Tollis, the father of Fabio, told Italian television, "even if it leaves me quite bitter that our son Fabio will not return."

Prosecutors in the northern city of Busto Arsizio said the suspects belonged to an occult sect that carried out the January 1998 killings in a drug-fuelled Satanic ritual in woods near Somma Lombardo, north-west of Milan.

Marino was stabbed to death and Tollis, her boyfriend, was also killed. They were buried next to each other. Authorities said there had been a previous attempt to kill the two by burning them alive in a car on New Year's Eve.

In the third murder, which happened in January 2004, Mariangela Pezzotta, Volpe's girlfriend, was shot and then buried alive. The Pezzotta case led authorities to the buried remains of Tollis and Marino. The cult members also stand accused of pushing a boy to commit suicide.

Prosecutors asked for relatively light prison terms because the suspects had cooperated with the investigation and expressed remorse. Prosecutors and court officials were not immediately available for comment after the ruling.

Marino's mother expressed outrage that prosecutors had not sought life terms. "They are murderers," Lina Marino told reporters. "It's not fair."

The verdict comes amid growing concern in Italy that young people are turning to Satanism and the occult. Last week, a Vatican-linked university opened a two-month course on diabolical possession and exorcism.

'Satanic killings' shock Italians

June 8, 2004

A gruesome find in a wood outside Milan has sparked fears that bored young Italians could be coming under the influence of Satanic cults.

The news has caused an outbreak of soul-searching in Catholic Italy.

Even hardened police officers were shocked by what they found outside the sleepy commuter town of Busto Arsizio.

Two teenagers' bodies were discovered in a makeshift grave, killed - police say - as part of a satanic ritual involving sex, drugs and rock and roll.

The two - a 19-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy - were last seen alive leaving a pizzeria with other members of their heavy metal rock band, called the Beasts of Satan.

Sexual violence

What happened next is still the subject of investigation.

But the magistrate leading the inquiry says they were murdered at the end of a drug-fuelled ritual which involved a level of cruelty he has never seen before.

Italian newspapers have described the murdered girl's bedroom, decorated with black candles and goats' skulls, and have quoted witness statements of sexual violence.

There are also suggestions that the double-killing might not be isolated and that more young Italians than anyone cares to think are dabbling in Satanism.

The experts are having a field day: pinpointing the ease with which young people can make contact with Satanists on the internet, describing the attractions of Satanism to impressionable people steeped in Catholic culture - and blaming the breakdown of traditional family values for the extreme alienation of some young Italians.

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone

Nicola Sapone



Fabio Tollis and his girlfriend Chiara Marino were stabbed to death by their friends Andrea Volpe, Nicola
Sapone and Mario Maccione. Maccione, Sapone and Volpe later buried the corpses in a large grave in
the woods and danced on the graveyard, laughing and screaming "Now you're both zombies! Try to get
out of this hole, if you dare!

The third murder was committed in January 2004. Mariangela Pezzotta, 27-year-old shop assistant,
further girlfriend of group member Andrea Volpe was first shot and later buried when was still alive
in a greenhouse into the nearby of Golasecca not far from Somma Lombardo.

The victims

Chiara Marino Fabio Tollis

Mariangela Pezzotta