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
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower