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An Unusual Case of Incaprettamento

Focardi, Martina MD; Pinchi, Vilma; Defraia, Beatrice MD; Norelli, Gian-Aristide

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 83–85
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000074
Case Reports

Incaprettamento is a ritual strangulation that represents a method of homicide typical of the Italian Mafia. While the victim is in the prone position, he/she is bound by one end of a rope, creating a slipknot around the throat, while the other end is used to tie the limbs behind the back. Forensic investigations reveal that in most cases, the binding of the extremities and the positioning of the victim are carried out after death due to others means and are intended to hold somebody in contempt and to punish betrayers. When the victim is tied while alive, the death is caused by self-strangulation because it is impossible to maintain the legs in this forced position. Here, we describe in detail a case with a lot of similarities to incaprettamento, although we define it as atypical because of the unusual methods of the actual binding and the circumstances in which death occurred. In fact, the investigation of the crime scene, the external and internal findings, and the histologic examination result show that this is a crime of passion.

From the Institute of Legal Medicine, Florence, Italy.

Manuscript received May 2, 2013; accepted November 20, 2013.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

We did not receive any funding for this work.

Reprints: Beatrice Defraia, Institute of Legal Medicine of the University of Florence, Largo Brambilla 3, 50134, Florence, Italy. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.