“When I decided to kill Giulia, I didn’t feel anger or desire for revenge,” Alessandro Impagnatiello told Judge Angela Minerva in his deposition at a Milan courthouse earlier this month. “I decided to do it for no real reason … I was just stressed.”
At 2:30 A.M. on May 31, Impagnatiello, 30, a barman at the city’s swanky Armani Bamboo Bar, confessed to murdering his girlfriend, Giulia Tramontano, 29, who was seven months pregnant with their child, a boy. Police retrieved Tramontano’s massacred body a couple of hours later, in a squalid patch of grass behind a parking lot.
By then, Impagnatiello had been lugging it around for three days, according to the police report. He’d hid it in his garage, then in his car. He’d attempted to burn it twice, first with alcohol, and, when that failed, with gasoline, but nothing worked. Frustrated, Impagnatiello then deposited Tramontano’s body on the patch of grass in Senago, the quaint suburb where the couple lived, and turned himself in.
This was three weeks ago, and the Armani hotel is still enshrouded in an anxious silence. None of the waiters I reached out to would talk to me. The Bamboo Bar, on the seventh floor, overlooking the Duomo, where Impagnatiello used to mix cocktails, closed for a few days following the incident, but is open to the public again.
Impagnatiello is now in surveilled confinement in San Vittore, one of Milan’s maximum-security prisons, where he stands accused of aggravated voluntary homicide, concealment of a corpse, and termination of pregnancy without consent. The facts of his case are still unfolding, but early details paint a picture of infidelity, paranoia, and a precarious double life that all came to a head one warm spring evening.
The Making of a Murderer
Impagnatiello’s mother, Sabrina de Paulis, who lives in the nearby Paderno Dugnano neighborhood, recalls that Impagnatiello, who is dark-haired and dark-eyed, was a selfish but otherwise normal child. “He has always been a polite person,” she told La vita in diretta, an Italian news program. “If he had a double personality, we didn’t know.”
Others were less convinced. “Ale,” one of Impagnatiello’s friends told the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, “was a bit of a show-off.” Although he “wasn’t handsome, he had a thousand women” and “a hundred parallel lives.” He was a “narcissist” who “manipulated women.”
At Armani, where he’d been working for six years, his colleagues called him “the sleaze,” and he was rumored to have lied about his personal life, including denying having an eight-year-old son from a previous relationship. “He makes things up,” one colleague told the news Web site Affari Italiani, “but we knew him by now.”
“I decided to do it for no reason … I was just stressed.”
Tramontano, a pretty blonde with a large tattoo on her left arm, grew up on the opposite end of Italy. She was born in Sant’Antimo, a small town a few miles outside of Naples with a church, a school, a bar, and little else. She moved north to study tourism in Turin, and then relocated to Milan after graduating from college, in 2017.
“She was determined to build a concrete and interesting professional experience in a new city,” one of her college professors told the Italian broadcaster Day Italia News, adding that she was “passionate and resilient. One of us.”
By May of this year, Tramontano had been dating Impagnatiello for three and a half years. Life in the city was good. She worked as a real-estate agent, went for drinks with friends at the Aperol Terrace in the city center, spent weekends in Florence, and vacationed in the Balearics. She and Impagnatiello, who lived together in Senago, had been on a romantic holiday in Ibiza in April, where Tramontano posted pictures of her pregnant belly to her Instagram account.
So, theoretically, when Tramontano received a call in the early afternoon of Saturday, May 27, from Impagnatiello’s 23-year-old half-British-half-Italian female co-worker, who claimed she was having an affair with Tramontano’s boyfriend, it should have come as a surprise.
Yet, when “I introduced myself,” said Chiara, whose real name has been concealed by the Italian authorities to protect her identity, “she already knew who I was,” according to the police report.
Although Alessandro Impagnatiello “wasn’t handsome, he had a thousand women” and “a hundred parallel lives.”
Chiara told Tramontano that her relationship with Impagnatiello had started in July of last year, and that they’d been seeing each other ever since. Shortly after the call, she forwarded Tramontano the proof she’d been harboring for months—videos of Impagnatiello telling Chiara he loved her, as well as screenshots of phone logs, conversations, and photos. At 4:42 P.M., Tramontano resolved to meet Chiara. “I’m on the subway,” she wrote to her. “Don’t you dare move.”
The two women met next to the Armani Bamboo Bar at 5:30, where they planned on confronting Impagnatiello together, and immediately hugged. “We were both victims of a liar,” Chiara told the local Italian newspaper Il Gazzettino. “As soon as we saw each other, we embraced in female solidarity.”
But Impagnatiello wasn’t there. According to Chiara, he’d told his boss that his mother was in the hospital, and had left before they arrived. (It later turned out that de Paulis was at home and well at the time.)
Chiara told Tramontano that, in the early days of her relationship with Impagnatiello, she knew he was also seeing someone else. “I would see [Tramontano’s] things in the bathroom and her photos in the living room,” she told the Neapolitan newspaper Il Mattino. “I noticed the makeup, the bathrobe, and the toothbrush. It was obvious … that she lived there.”
But after Chiara got pregnant with Impagnatiello’s child and had an abortion, in January of this year, things changed. When Chiara stayed over at his apartment, Impagnatiello meticulously erased any trace of Tramontano, whom he called his “ex.” Photographs went into cupboards, as did her toothbrush and her towels. At work, Impagnatiello said he was single.
“We were both victims of a liar.”
When Chiara found out Tramontano was pregnant, Impagnatiello patched together a fake paternity test to prove the baby wasn’t his. Yet Impagnatiello’s double life eventually became too apparent for Chiara to ignore. After spotting photos of Tramontano and Impagnatiello together in Ibiza on his cell phone, and figuring out that the paternity test had been faked, Chiara started gathering evidence against him.
At 6:45 P.M., with Impagnatiello still nowhere to be seen, Tramontano left Bamboo Bar. By then, she and Chiara had agreed to stay in touch. “[Tramontano] didn’t know if she was going to go to Naples to see her parents,” Chiara told Il Mattino, “but she certainly didn’t want to see Impagnatiello anymore.”
On her way to the Comasina subway station, Tramontano sent Impagnatiello a slew of angry text messages. “May you drown in the shit you’ve created for yourself,” she wrote. “I’m coming home. Be there.”
Impagnatiello, it turns out, was home. A few feet away from him, a bottle of rat poison lay in wait. He’d made the purchase a couple of weeks earlier, after searching “does rat venom kill humans?” on Google, as police records show. Next to the poison lay a kitchen knife.
What happened next is murky. According to Impagnatiello’s confession, “she said she didn’t want to live anymore, and slashed herself in the neck, then I slashed her there too.” But the autopsy report shows that Tramontano died from 37 to 40 stab wounds mostly in her torso, as well as one on her face and another in a lung. She bled out from her carotid artery. The rat poison remained untouched.
In the hours that ensued, while Tramontano’s body lay limp in the bathtub, Impagnatiello contemplated his next move. Chiara kept texting Tramontano, but after 8:15 P.M., the responses she got sounded different. “She told me that she hadn’t been honest with me and to leave her alone,” Chiara told the Roman newspaper Il Messaggero. “Then she stopped answering.”
While he posed as Tramontano on her cell phone, Impagnatiello cleaned the house with maniacal precision. He washed the blood off the kitchen knife and put it back in its sleeve above the oven. Chiara texted Impagnatiello and demanded a FaceTime call to check on Tramontano. At first, he told her Tramontano was sleeping, and then he amended his story, saying she was out at a friend’s.
At around 1:30 A.M., Impagnatiello left his apartment to meet Chiara, whose shift at the Bamboo Bar was finishing. “My co-worker offered to walk me home,” she told the national Italian newspaper La Repubblica, “because I felt uneasy.” Impagnatiello got to Chiara’s apartment shortly after she did and demanded to be let in, but she refused, instead speaking to him through the bars of a balcony window. “I was afraid,” she said. (At Impagnatiello’s deposition, Judge Angela Minerva noted that, had Chiara opened that door, he might have killed her too.)
Over the following days, while Impagnatiello moved Tramontano’s body from the bathtub to the garage, and then to the back of his car, he tried to act normally. He showed up at work the next day, a Sunday, and Chiara noticed a pair of blue latex gloves in his backpack.
On Sunday evening, Impagnatiello reported Tramontano missing, feigning ignorance. Between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday night, he drove around the city with her body in his car.
As more and more time went by, people’s suspicions grew. “Let’s not make assumptions,” Chiara wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. “She’s gone, but she will be found.” No one could have imagined where Giulia Tramontano really was.
Three weeks have passed since news of the murder that rocked the city, but new evidence is still coming to light. A neighbor of Impagnatiello and Tramontano’s retrieved a cart from their shared garage and brought it to the police station; it revealed traces of Tramontano’s blood. Her wallet and driver’s license were found in a manhole not far from her body.
And many more questions remain. Did Impagnatiello act alone? (The Italian criminologist Roberta Bruzzone has stated it’s likely he did.) According to her sister, Tramontano had known about Impagnatiello’s affair since January. Why did she wait to confront him? What came over Impagnatiello, whose history with the truth was checkered but who’d never committed a single crime?
As Milan slowly goes back to normal and the Bamboo Bar fills up again, the last thing Impagnatiello ever did before entering prison comes to mind. When he got out of the police car at the gates of San Vittore, he stopped, checked himself out in the side mirror, and adjusted his baseball cap.
Elena Clavarino is the Senior Editor at AIR MAIL