2 US teens jailed in Italy in policeman's killing

Photo: AP

Two American teenagers who were classmates at a California high school spent a second night in a Rome jail Saturday after they were interrogated for hours about their alleged roles in the murder of an Italian policeman.

Investigators contended in written statements Saturday that the pair had confessed to their roles in the grisly slaying.

Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega, a member of the storied Carabinieri paramilitary corps, was stabbed eight times, allegedly by one of the teens, leaving him bleeding on a street close to the teens' upscale hotel near Rome's Tiber River.

Italian authorities identified the two as Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 18, and Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, and said they were born in San Francisco.

Police said they were apparently vacationing in the Italian capital without family members.

In the detention order, Elder is described as repeatedly stabbing the 35-year-old officer, who had just returned to duty a few days earlier from his honeymoon.

Under Italian law, persons participating in a killing, but who didn't actually carry out the slaying itself, risk being charged with murder.

Both suspects are also being investigated for attempted extortion.

Parents with their children left bouquets of flowers at the bloodstained site.

Authorities vowed that justice would be done.

Italian police officers carry guns, but it was unclear why they weren't used.

The Carabinieri said surveillance cameras and witnesses helped them identify and find the Americans.

While searching their hotel room, police said, investigators found a long knife hidden inside the room's dropped ceiling. Also found were clothes worn during the attack, police said.

The Carabinieri statement said the Americans during their interrogation and confronted with "hard evidence," had "confessed to their blame."

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