Italy's Harry Potter guide 'slain by son with spumante bottle'

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The Independent Online

The teenage son of a translator who popularised the world of Harry Potter in Italy has allegedly confessed to knocking her out with a spumante bottle and cutting her throat.

Edi Vesco, 52, a star writer and editor for the publishing house Sperling and Kupfer, had recently hinted good-naturedly in her widely-read internet blog about her difficult relations with her 18-year-old son, with whom she shared a flat in Milan.

Police said the student, identified only by his initials LG, locked the flat after the killing on Tuesday and took a train to the northern city of Brescia. He apparently gave himself up to railway police "in a confused state" later that night and confessed to the killing.

He has been charged with aggravated murder and attempted sexual assault, according to judicial sources. The daily Corriere della Sera newspaper said the youth told officers that he had attempted to rape his mother and then hit her with the bottle of fizzy wine, but he "could not remember" why he had killed her.

An investigator described the case as "a truly terrifying story a frightening family drama" and said the murder had happened at the climax of a violent row which erupted when the boy told his mother he was planning to leave school and educate himself for his final exams.

Ms Vesco had written a series of books and translated biographies of Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu but was best known for her 2002 work entitled Il Magico Libro I Segreti Del Mondo Di Harry Potter (The Magic Book The Secrets Of Harry Potter's World), billed as the world's most complete guide to JK Rowling's boy wizard Harry Potter.

The work includes excerpts that Ms Vesco translated from the Potter books and an explanation of the sorcery in the titles, as well as quizzes, games and crosswords.

In her blog, Ms Vesco mentioned recently that she had "various serious little problems to resolve" but apparently made light of them, comparing them to her prowess as a cook.

"What do I know how to do well? Off the top of my head, I am tempted to say disasters. My son says 'disasters' but also lasagne, potato gnocchi and clam sauce," she wrote.

Neighbours described the writer and her son as "tranquil" personalities. Police said the teenager had no criminal record but was an "introverted" character. He reportedly spoke of his plans to leave school in an email entitled "Delirium of Omnipotence" he sent to his father, who was separated from Ms Vesco.

The message included quotations from Socrates, Einstein and Nietzsche and described what the boy called his "enlightenment" over the path in life that he had decided to follow.

For some years, Italy has been gripped each Christmas and summer holiday season by violent domestic tragedies which erupt for no evident reason.

The country's Families Minister, Rosy Bindi, told foreign reporters recently that the upsurge in senseless murders was "a sign that the family has become fragile" in Italy, despite the predominantly Roman Catholic country's reputation for upholding family values.

"Families often are isolated and in need of support," she said.