Doretta Graneris and Guido Badini. Names that today say little or nothing. Characters who have fallen into the oblivion, who have gone to the background, buried, swallowed up by the inexorable passing of time and the news.
Yet, we are talking about two of the most ruthless, lucid murderers that contemporary Italian history has ever met. Doretta Graneris and Guido Badini, in fact, have gone down in history with the macabre name of “the beasts of Vercelli“. But let’s rewind until those fateful days of 43 years ago. It was November 1975.
Doretta and Guido, a mortal bond
Doretta Graneris (Vercelli, 16 February 1957) is an 18-year-old girl. Her bourgeois family, well seen by the local community, is composed of her father, Sergio Graneris (45 years old), her mother, Itala Zambon (41 years old), her younger brother, Paolo Graneris (13 years old) and her maternal grandparents, Romolo Zambon and Margherita Baucero, 79 and 76 years old respectively. Doretta graduated from the (Liceo Artistico) Art School and occasionally went to work in her father’s tyre workshop.
A normal, ordinary family, like many others: the school, the affections, the problems, the monotony of provincial life. Everything seems tremendously common, usual. Normal, in fact. But it’s not like that. Doretta, indeed, lives her own family, social and existential discomfort in a personal way. An uneasiness silently internalized and brooded, but ready to explode and manifest itself in a violent and vengeful way.
She is described as a lonely, “complex” girl – using a definition as simplistic as it is widespread – who is obsessively attracted by sex. She considers herself ugly and fat, she considers herself inferior, she is intolerant towards everything and everyone – starting with her city, Vercelli – and she considers her parents too strict, authoritarian, retrograde, rigid, traditionalist. Doretta’s intolerance of her parents – who also prevent her from going out in the evening – turns into visceral contempt.
She often clashes with her father Sergio and her mother Itala: generational clashes, youthful rebellion against a family that, on the contrary, has never made its children miss anything, including Doretta. Strict but generous at the same time. Sergio Graneris, as a testimony to the excellent relations between the Graneris and the Zambons, opened a tyre business with Romolo.
The Graneris is a well-off family; people used to earning their money through hard work. A prerogative that, however, Doretta does not like.
In November 1975, Doretta Graneris had a boyfriend. His name is Guido Badini, 23, an accountant, who was orphaned prematurely: his father, who died in a psychiatric hospital when he was 14 years old, his mother, a seamstress, died of cancer.
They met at the end of 1972, at Doretta’s house, on the occasion of New Year’s Eve. Guido Badini is a boy now in disarray: without reference points, a misfit, without work. A “Peter Pan” in the negative sense of the term. A relationship marked by unhealthy complicity was born between the two, within which Doretta was the dominant and catalysing figure, while Guido played the role of the ideal partner. The two share a rebellious and apathetic vision of life: both without work and without the desire to find a job, the couple lives thanks to the money of their parents. But they don’t want to aspire to a miserable life, made of hardships: on the contrary, they crave money and a comfortable standard of living. Easy money.
The relationship between the two, however, is not welcomed by Doretta’s family. Disputes and repeated discussions lead to a breaking point, a point of no return: Doretta and Guido go to live together, in Novara, in Guido Badini’s apartment. Only the generosity and care of the girl’s parents – despite the friction with their daughter and the never-ending distrust of her partner – allows the young couple, without independent financial income, to live quite dignifiedly. Even in the light of the timid rapprochement, Doretta’s family is increasingly a burden, a cumbersome burden, an obstacle to the couple’s dissolute and solitary lifestyle. Doretta and Guido decide to get married: the wedding is scheduled for the end of November. This, however, will not be the only decision taken by the two young people in those cold days.
13 November 1975: the Graneris family massacre
Doretta Graneris and Guido Badini, inexorably crushed by their “parallel reality”, think of a diabolical plan: to kill and exterminate the Graneris family. Greed – taking possession of the family’s assets – and the desire to eliminate any unwelcome person are the triggering causes that lead to the massacre. It is estimated that about 100 million lire (about 60,000 $) are deposited in the bank. More money would be obtained, in the intentions of the couple, from the sale of family property.
It is the evening of 13 November 1975. Doretta and Guido go to the girl’s house, a small villa in Via Caduti nei Lager 9, located on the south-west outskirts of Vercelli. The family is gathered in front of the television, unaware of the atrocious fate that awaits them. Together with Doretta and Guido there is a third boy. His name is Antonio “Toni” D’Elia, 19 years old from Trecate but of Calabrian origin, another guy with a criminal record, a sort of lover – in the sunlight – of Doretta. The three of them arrive at Doretta’s family’s house after several risky moves: Doretta, after leaving Guido Badini’s apartment, goes to Antonio D’Elia. The two steal, in Arese, a Simca, a car that will then be set on fire. In the meantime, Guido Badini rented a FIAT 500, with which he joined the two accomplices in Vercelli.
Only Doretta and Guido entered the house. D’Elia waits outside, in the street. The couple, close to the wedding, discusses with the girl’s parents about some delicate questions regarding the wedding. Suddenly, the slaughter begins.
The dynamic sees Doretta and Guido shoot simultaneously with different guns, a Beretta and a Browning. A few seconds and it’s all over. The Graneris family is decimated by the lucid madness of Doretta and Guido: their father Sergio, their mother Itala, their grandparents Romolo and Margherita fall in sequence, and finally Paolo. The thirteen-year-old brother, at first only wounded and looking for shelter until the last moment, is killed with a point-blank blow. His body lies near the window. In all, Guido and Doretta’s guns fire 19 times. The massacre took place, quickly and ferociously, the family of Doretta Graneris annihilated. The boys leave the house and head to another friend’s house, where they stay for about two hours. As if nothing had happened.
Arrest and sentencing
The carnage is discovered, the morning after the massacre, by Maria Ogliano, 67 years old, mother of Sergio Graneris and grandmother of Doretta, suspicious of the absence of her son at work. The lights and the television are still on. The gate is incomprehensibly open. The scene that is revealed to Ogliano and the Carabinieri is gruesome. Shells everywhere, of two guns.
Investigations are quick. The detectives track down Doretta who, at the moment, was with Guido, in Novara. The two are at the market. Why does the girl show an unnatural insensitivity to the news of the extermination of her family? And how come, in the interior of the Badini car, the Carabinieri find a case of the same calibre (7.65) found at the scene of the crime? Badini says that it fell after a session at the shooting range: and indeed, the boy goes to the shooting range and has some guns.
Everything develops and wears out within a few hours. The couple is promptly taken to the police station.
The interrogation is long and drumming. The two killers give in and confess: the first to give in is Guido, Doretta – who at first denies his involvement – will confess later.
In the first phase, Doretta takes full responsibility for the murders. But the investigators do not believe her. Guido, a gun enthusiast and owner of a gun, confesses, but puts all the blame on Doretta, the real director of the crimes. The two keep shifting responsibility to each other: Doretta accuses Guido, Guido accuses Doretta. The love between the two, still alive in the early stages of the investigation (exchange of passionate letters), disappears when each tries to put the blame on the other.
That’s not all: the two – especially Guido – change the version of the facts several times. Guido, all of a sudden, assumes all responsibility: it is he who shot, he who killed, he who wants to make orphan his beloved Doretta as a sign of contempt for the oppressive parents of the girl. In short, a murder with a passion background: exterminate the family of his beloved as an extreme proof of love, as well as revenge on people – the parents of Doretta – who have never appreciated him. Doretta and Guido: united by the absence of their parents. A vision as complicit as it is distorted.
Then, however, he retracts everyghing again. At the same time, Antonio D’Elia’s position appears to be immediately more hidden: he is an accomplice, he participates in the crimes but his role appears “marginal”, we could define it logistic. The sentence inflicted on D’Elia, in fact, reflects the facts.
Guido also claims to have been plagiarized, conditioned by Doretta. She, as emerges from the procedural documents, proves to be a skilful and unscrupulous dominating person. The two try, anyway, to invoke insanity through unlikely statements and false backstage which, in fact, are rejected. Doretta and Guido are liars, cunning, ferocious murderers but totally capable of understanding and wanting. Someone, in an era in which the political clash also manifests itself in a particularly violent way, tries to give a political color to the crimes: Badini, in fact, as well as other characters more or less directly involved in this shady story, is a sympathizer of the extreme right. A political revenge? No, none of it. Politics has nothing to do with it. It’s just an “intellectual invention” of the press.
During the trial, here’s the twist. It turns out that Guido Badini has already killed, in July. The victim is Anna De Giorgi, a prostitute. A crime apparently without motive. Guido Badini, in fact, killed the woman just for the sake of killing: a show of strength which he can boast of in front of Doretta and his friends. Badini tries to involve other people, but they are proven to be unrelated to the facts.
Doretta Graneris and Guido Badini are sentenced to life imprisonment. It was April 1978. The Appeal – dated 1980 – and the Supreme Court, in 1983, confirm the prison sentence.
In January 1987, Doretta obtained 15 days of freedom: she left Le Nuove in Turin with a social worker from SERMIG (Servizio Missionario Giovani). In 1991, she began working in the Abel Group of Don Ciotti. Eighteen years after the murders in Via Caduti in Lager 9, Doretta Graneris obtained partial freedom (7 April 1993), which was converted into conditional release in 2000.
The woman – graduated in Architecture and now integrated – wants to forget and be forgotten but, inevitably, the excessive benevolence of justice can only arouse doubts and perplexity.
Even Guido Badini, apparently a “model prisoner” like Doretta, reveals a tormented prison path. In 1987, he devised a plan, with the complicity of people outside the prison, to escape – taking advantage of a permit – and kill again. Plan promptly unmasked and suffocated. In 1997, he returned to prison in Brescia: drug trafficking. Badini, in March 1993, had also obtained partial freedom; from 1992, he worked as a gardener in the “Fraternity” community of Ospitaletto. Since the early 2000s, Badini has been free.
The Graneris case is, in short, a murky history of a province. The province as a recurrent scenario – in the past and today – of brutal episodes of crime news. A turbid story in which a rebellious daughter and her boyfriend – who is also a threat, crazy and immersed in the lively, ardent but at the same time traditionalist society of the 70s – commit one of the most inhumane multiple murders in the history of Italy. Not everything has been written, not everything has been said around that evening of 13 November 1975. Doretta, in fact, has confessed to the murders but the dynamics of the events still appear blurred.
Doretta Graneris, during the trial, also depersonalizes the members of her family: “him”, “her” instead of “dad” or “father”, “mom” or “mother”. Detachment, depersonalization, psychological barrier to events strongly traumatizing although arising from the protagonist herself, Doretta.
Disquieting aspects of a story that is still of tremendous topical interest.