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2 American Teens Jailed in Death of Italian Policeman

Mario Cerciello Rega was investigating the theft of a bag in Rome
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 27, 2019 11:30 AM CDT
In this picture taken Friday, July 26, 2019 investigators are seen on the scene where an Italian paramilitary policeman was stabbed to death.   (Angelo Carconi/ANSA via AP)
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(Newser) – Two American teenagers were jailed in Rome on Saturday as authorities carry out a murder investigation in the killing of an Italian police officer, the AP reports. A detention order issued by prosecutors was shown on Italian state broadcaster RAI, naming the suspects as Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth and Finnegan Lee Elder. The detention order didn't give their ages, but says they were both born in San Francisco in 2000. Police earlier said they were 19. Prosecutors say in the order that Elder is the main suspect, accusing him of repeatedly stabbing Carabinieri paramilitary policeman Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, who was investigating the theft of a bag after a drug deal gone wrong in Rome. Natale Hjorth is accused of using his bare hands to strike the officer's partner, who wasn't seriously injured in the attack.

Both suspects were also being investigated for attempted extortion. An Italian investigator who spoke on condition of anonymity since the probe was ongoing said that the pair had snatched the bag of a drug dealer in Rome after the man apparently gave them "a different substance" instead of cocaine. The Carabinieri said the Americans demanded a 100-euro ($112) ransom and a gram of cocaine to return the bag. The alleged dealer called police, saying he had arranged a meeting with the thieves to get his bag and cellphone back. Police say there was a scuffle at the rendezvous site and the policeman was stabbed eight times, dying shortly afterward in the hospital. A judge at the detention hearing hasn't ruled if the suspects will be kept in custody beyond an initial three-day period.

(Read more murder stories.)

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