German couple abandon three children in Italian pizzeria

Police were yesterday scouring Europe for a German couple who abandoned three small children in a pizzeria in the north-west Italian town of Aosta on Sunday evening and have not been seen since.

The couple, Ina Caterina Remhof, 26, the mother of the children, and her partner, Sascha Schmidt, 24, brought the children, aged six, four and eight months, into the Il Capanno pizzeria.

They took a table together and placed their orders like any other family of tourists, according to the restaurant's manager, Carmello Casella.

But about 45 minutes later, while the children were still eating, the couple stood up and told Mr Casella that they were going outside for a smoke. When they failed to return the restaurant staff became worried and called the police.

The children gave no indication of distress when police questioned them. The six-year-old boy told a German-speaking policewoman that the family had come to Aosta by car but had run out of petrol and had left it by the side of the road.

He took police to the car, parked near the pizzeria, then to a nearby hotel where the family had booked two rooms, using a credit card which turned out to be invalid.

Ezio Gevroz, the manager of the hotel, told La Stampa: "On Sunday the woman seemed very agitated, almost scared, in a panic. They had arrived on Saturday, the little ones were very under-dressed and were cold. They took two rooms."

Police found the passports of the missing couple in the car and began to piece the family's story together. They said Ms Remhof had a history of drug problems and had been with Mr Schmidt, who was not the children's father, for some time. They had arrived in Aosta through the Mont Blanc tunnel and had checked into the hotel with no luggage.

Aosta police said: "Documents found in the car lead us to believe that the couple were in an evident state of difficulty," though they denied reports that a diary with entries suggesting thoughts of suicide had been found.

Police have made checks at railway stations, airports and border crossings since the couple disappeared but have not found any clues to their whereabouts. Ms Remhof's mother in Germany has been kept informed of the mystery, and is said to be prepared to accept the children on their return from Italy. In the meantime they are being cared for by Aosta social services.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back