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Two California teens in custody over the killing of an Italian policeman

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jul 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-27 22:53:28-04

ROME (AP) – 4:15 p.m.
An Italian detention order says two American teenagers from California are being held in jail for investigation of murder in the fatal stabbing of a police officer.

The detention order was displayed on Italian state broadcaster RAI and it named the two suspects as Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth and Finnegan Lee Elder. The order says they were both born in San Francisco in 2000. Police confirmed that the detention order shown on state TV was authentic.

In this combo photo released by Italian Carabinieri, Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, right, and Finnegan Lee Elder, sit in their hotel room in Rome. Two American teenagers were jailed in Rome on Saturday as authorities carry out a murder investigation in the killing of Italian police officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35. A detention order issued by prosecutors was shown on Italian state broadcaster RAI, naming the suspects as Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth and Finnegan Lee Elder. (Italian Carabinieri via AP)

Both are suspected in the fatal stabbing of 35-year-old officer Mario Cerciello Rega after a drug deal gone wrong. They are also being investigated for attempted extortion.

Elder’s lawyer, Francesco Codini, said his client exercised his right not to respond to questions during a detention hearing held Saturday in the Rome jail where the two teens are being kept.

The judge hasn’t ruled if they will be kept in jail beyond an initial three-day period.


10:45 a.m.

Italian police say two young American tourists have confessed in the fatal stabbing of an Italian paramilitary policeman investigating the theft of a bag with a cellphone.

In a statement Saturday, Carabinieri officers investigating the death Friday of officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, said the Americans, both 19, have been detained for alleged murder and attempted extortion.

Separately, an investigator who declined to be named said the two had snatched the bag of a drug dealer in Rome who had given them “a different substance” instead of cocaine.

The Carabinieri said the Americans demanded a 100-euro ($112) ransom and a gram of cocaine to return the bag. The man called police, saying he had arranged a meeting with the thieves to get his bag back. There was a scuffle at the meeting and the policeman was stabbed to death.