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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue
E L James's book Grey is a reminder of how the phenomenon of the best-seller works

Grey is a reminder of how the phenomenon of the best-seller works

It's hard to understand why so many are buying it – but then best-selling was ever an inexact science, says DJ Taylor
Behind the scenes of the world's most experimental science labs

World's most experimental science labs

The photographer Daniel Stier has spent four years gaining access to some of the world's most curious scientific experiments
It's the stroke of champions - so why is the single-handed backhand on the way out?

Single-handed backhand: on the way out?

If today's young guns wish to elevate themselves to the heights of Sampras, Graf and Federer, it's time to fire up the most thrilling shot in tennis
HMS Saracen: Meeting the last survivor of a submarine found 72 years after it was scuttled

HMS Saracen

Meeting the last survivor of a submarine found 72 years after it was scuttled
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Martine Wright lost both legs in the attack – she explains how her experience since shows 'anything is possible'

7/7 bombings 10 years on

Martine Wright lost both legs in the attack – she explains how her experience since shows 'anything is possible'