Two San Francisco teens on a ‘drug holiday’ in Rome have been arrested in the Italian capital on charges of murder and attempted extortion in connection with the fatal stabbing of a police officer on Friday morning.
, 19, confessed to stabbing 35-year-old paramilitary policeman Mario Cerciello Rega to death during an apparent drug deal gone wrong, Italian authorities said Saturday.
A second California native, Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, 18, was also involved in the scuffle that led to Rega’s death, police say.
In a statement, Roman police revealed that both of the men had been interrogated by Carabinieri officials and, ‘in the face of overwhelming evidence’, they eventually confessed to the crimes.
‘I didn’t think he was a policeman, I was afraid of being cheated again,’ Finnegan is said to have told investigators.
During the reported confession, the two teens are said to have informed officials they’d been looking to buy drugs in Rome’s Trastevere district at 2am on Friday when they asked a local man, Sergio Brugiatelli, where they could find a dealer.
‘The man pointed them to a supplier, who reportedly sold them crushed medicine instead of cocaine,’ a Carabinieri spokesman said.
Finnegan and Hjorth apparently realized they’d been defrauded when they attempted to snort the white powder but realized it was aspirin.
They were then captured on CCTV returning to the square, hoping to track down the dealer who had sold them the faux cocaine.
Their search for the dealer failed, but they did find Brugiatelli, and, believing him to be an accomplice of the dealer, the pair stole his bag and returned to their hotel.
Brugiatelli then rang his phone – which was still inside the backpack – and the two tourists demanded he pay them 100 euros and give them a gram of cocaine to see it returned.
He agreed. However, instead of going to meet the men himself, Brugiatelli called police who sent two plain clothes officers to quiz the men.