Italy man arrested on suspicion of poisoning entire family


A 27-year-old Italian has been arrested on suspicion he poisoned his entire family with a chemical once used to kill rodents, leading to the deaths of his grandparents and an aunt, and the hospitalization of five others.

Prosecutors said Thursday that Mattia Del Zotto confessed after police searched his home and found vials of thallium, a colorless, odorless and tasteless heavy metal that is highly toxic. The search also turned up purchase receipts for thallium.

Monza prosecutor Luisa Zanetti quoted Del Zotto as saying he wanted to "punish impure" people. His mother reportedly told investigators she believed he was under the influence of a cult.

Italian media have been speculating for weeks about the mysterious poisonings after traces of thallium were found in tea the family drank at their home near Milan. The grandparents fell ill at the end of the summer and died in October; some relatives remain hospitalized with neurological problems.

Carabinieri Capt. Manusueto Consentino said investigators were still trying to understand the motive. He said Del Zotto wasn't under psychiatric care or known to be religious, but his family concurred he had grown more "introverted" lately.

Thallium was once used as a rodent killer, but the World Health Organization in 1973 recommended it be discontinued because of its toxicity for humans.

Initial symptoms of thallium poisoning include gastrointestinal problems, delirium and coma. Hair loss, psychotic behavior and organ damage can also occur. Poisoning can be treated with an antidote of Prussian blue, which prevents the thallium from being absorbed.

In the 1990s, there were several reports that Iraqi security agents were using thallium to poison enemies of Saddam Hussein. The Agatha Christie novel "The Pale Horse" used thallium as its murder weapon of choice.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

What is CHIP? 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program
What is CHIP? 7 things to know about the Children’s Health Insurance Program

Amid efforts to unsuccessfully repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the fall, lawmakers let the Children’s Health Insurance Program (or CHIP) to expire on Sept. 30. And now, doctors and patients are worried that money for the program, which provides 9 million kids across the country with low-cost health insurance, will...
Lawmakers call for investigation into Trump sexual misconduct allegations
Lawmakers call for investigation into Trump sexual misconduct allegations

More than 100 Democratic lawmakers are calling on the House Oversight Committee to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct levied against President Donald Trump, a group of female U.S. representatives said at a news conference Tuesday. More than a dozen women have accused the president of forced kissing, unwanted groping and making inappropriate...
Americans write ‘Dear Alabama’ pleas on Twitter as Moore, Jones face off
Americans write ‘Dear Alabama’ pleas on Twitter as Moore, Jones face off

Americans turned to social media on Tuesday to express their feelings about the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. “Dear Alabama” began trending as the nation watched and reacted to whether Alabama residents would elect Republican Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones. The Jones campaign got a major boost in the largely Republican state after Moore...
Mother, daughter arrested, accused of beating student at bus stop
Mother, daughter arrested, accused of beating student at bus stop

A mother and daughter accused of beating an Atlanta Public School student at a bus stop last month have been arrested.  Tayza Danielle Harris and daughter Chelsea Monicque Harris remain in the Fulton County Jail on aggravated assault, aggravated battery cruelty to children and disrupting public school charges, according to jail records. ...
6-year-old boy makes $11 million doing toy reviews on YouTube
6-year-old boy makes $11 million doing toy reviews on YouTube

A 6-year-old boy is making millions for his family by reviewing toys on YouTube. A Forbes list of 2017’s highest-paid YouTube stars has the child, who only goes by Ryan and is the face of the Ryan ToysReview channel, is listed as making $11 million pretax income.  A 2016 profile of Ryan shows that the then-5-year-old started reviewing toys...
More Stories