Spaghetti meal murder claim in Italy

Spaghetti meal murder claim in Italy

SPAGHETTI: Unsuitable meal choice for vulnerable elderly woman Photo credit: Pixabay/Security

Italian police suspect that the death of a well-off elderly woman who died after eating spaghetti was no accident.

Eighty-year-old Maria Basso was liable to choking and supposed to eat only finely chopped or pureed food.

Despite being aware of this, her great-niece Paola Pepe, 58, took her out for a meal in a Sicily restaurant in December 2022 and ordered spaghetti. Some of the pasta became lodged in Basso’s airways and she died 48 hours later.

Initially her death appeared to be an unfortunate accident, but police became involved after the authorities found that Pepe had amended her great-aunt’s will two days before the meal.

Childless Maria Basso, who had worked for Italy’s Foreign Ministry in Iran, Australia and the US, retired to Asiago in the Veneto region. She lived alone and intended to leave the €500,000 fortune she had accumulated during her distinguished career to a

Christian youth education scheme.

Basso’s relatives told police that they began to suspect foul play after distant relations from Sicily, including Paola Pepe, appeared unexpectedly at Basso’s 80th birthday and spent several hours alone with her.

Pepe then moved her great-aunt to a care home 1,300 kilometres away without telling other family members.  She also failed to take any of her relative’s personal belongings or medication.

Basso also signed documents entitling her great-niece to make decisions on her behalf and to manage her assets.  Pepe was also named as sole heir to Basso’s assets in a new will signed two days before her death.

Pepe, who insists that her great-aunt’s death was a tragic accident, is now under house arrest and awaits trial on February 28.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at