Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cold Cases In The News

There's a recent report of what may be the coldest case on record.

In the British Medical Journal was reported recently that the death of Francisco de Medici and his wife, Bianca Cappello, were most likely murdered in 1587 by Francisco's brother Ferdinando.

The Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Duchess were visited in Florence by Ferdinando and they fell ill and died shortly thereafter. Ferdinando would have been excluded from the line of succession to the throne if Francisco's illegitimate son succeeded him, or if Bianca Cappello, who was unable to have children, were to produce a false heir.

Ferdinando stepped into the breach and managed the entire affair by applied information control so as to remove any suspicion that the death was anything other than natural. The Grand Duke received a state funeral but the Duchess was alleged to have been buried in a common grave in the town of San Lorenzo.

As it turns out, four terra cotta jars containing the viscera of the Duke and Duchess were buried in a church close to the Grand Duke's villa. These were exhumed in 1857 and the possibility of poisoning was first raised.

Most recently, a forensic toxicology professor and a professor of medical history from the University of Florence reexamined the case, because the doctors' reports at the time of the fatal events were consistent with what we know of poisoning.

Biological material from the grave of Francisco and from the terra cotta jars in the church of Santa Maria a Bonistallo were examined with modern toxicological tools and methods, and it is quite likely that the royal couple were victims of acute arsenic poisoning.

The closest I ever came to anything like this was in dismissing charges against one Kevin Dickson, who had disappeared only to be discovered in a cistern behind an abandoned farmhouse in Clarke County, Iowa a decade later. As it happened, one Martin Moon was convicted of the crime after the remains were discovered and is now taking his ease at a fine state institution even as we speak.


At 12:40 AM, Blogger iowafalconer said...

Oelwein Police say Hi! Robert - A few officers have bookmarked the blog and enjoy the reviews and information provided. Keep up the good work!


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