13 -year-old Yara Gambirasio lived in the small town of Brembate di Sopra in northern Italy. The town only had a population of about seven thousand people. On the night of November 26, 2010, she left her home to walk to a gym that was less than a mile from her home. She was supposed to drop off a stereo with her gymnastics coach and then walk right back home. Two hours after she left, she still hadn’t returned home. Her mother called her cell phone and her call went straight to voicemail. 20 minutes later, her father called the police.
A massive search was launched but Yara was nowhere to be found. Three months to the day of her disappearance, her body was found in a field about six miles south of the town. The autopsy revealed that Yara had been stabbed several times and her head had been beaten. The cause of death was exposure. Her bra was unhooked, but she had not been sexually assaulted. The police caught a break and found male DNA on Yara’s underwear. He became known as Ignoto Uno or “unknown one”. The DNA didn’t match anyone on file and led to one of the biggest manhunts in Italian history. The DNA of over 18,000 men was tested. A year after the murder, the police took some DNA from a man who had DNA that is similar to the DNA of Unknown One. The man, whose last name was Guerinoni, even had a connection to Yara: his mother was her family’s housekeeper for years. She wasn’t working for the family when Yara was murdered, but she was still friendly with them. Guerinoni was ruled out as a suspect because he was in South America when Yara was killed.
The lead detective on the case knew that the Guerinoni DNA was her strongest lead, so she started to trace his family tree. She eventually got the DNA from an uncle of the man, named Giuseppe Guerinoni. Giuseppe’s DNA was nearly identical to Unknown One’s DNA. Case closed, right? It turned out that Giuseppe had died 11 years before the murder, in 1999. The DNA samples were taken from the backs of two stamps that he licked when he was alive. In March 2013 his body was exhumed and DNA was taken from his femur. Experts confirm that the DNA was very similar. They said that Unknown One was the son of Giuseppe. Giuseppe had three children with his wife, and they were all quickly excluded as suspects.
When Giuseppe was alive, he was a bus driver and the detective interviewed one of his former co-workers. The co-worker said that Giuseppe wasn’t a faithful husband. The detective interviewed 532 women that Giuseppe knew when he was alive. She eventually came across 67 year-old Esther Arzuffi, who gave her DNA. She said she never had sex with Giuseppe. She had been married to the same man, Giovanni Bisetti, since she was 19 and they raised three children: a set of twins who are a boy and a girl, Massimo and Laura, and then another son, named Fabio.
It turned out that Esther was lying about having sex with Giuseppe, because she was the mother of Unknown One. The police decided to get DNA from Massimo, whose middle name happens to be Giuseppe. In June 2014, the police set up a road block not far from Massimo’s home. When he reached a roadblock, they asked him to do a breathalyzer test.
He was sober and they let him proceed on with his drive. They took his DNA from the breathalyzer and compared it to Unknown One’s DNA. It was a match. Giuseppe was the father of Massimo and his twin sister It also turned out that the third child, Fabio, was not fathered by Giovanni either. His father is a third man. Massimo was arrested on June 16, 2014, nearly four years after the murder. Besides the DNA, there is some circumstantial evidence linking Massimo to the crime, as well.
Massimo was known to frequent businesses around Yara’s home. Also, his phone was turned off at 5:45 the night of the murder and it wasn’t turned back on until the next morning. Traces of lime and jute, which is a vegetable fiber used to make rope, were found on Yara’s body. This suggests that the killer was a construction worker, and that was Massimo’s profession. Massimo, who is married and has three children, denies killing Yara. He admits that it’s his DNA on Yara, but he has no idea how it got there. His trial lasted a year. His lawyers argue that his DNA only proves his presence, but does not prove that he is responsible for the murder.
Massimo Giuseppe Bisetti was found guilty and he was sentenced to life in July 2016