Incest, murder, necrophilia: we don't feel right calling this accused killer "the new Amanda Knox" — but the lurid story's quite horrible enough on its own terms.

To an American audience, of course — and press eager to sensationalize a story — the Knox comparisons are obvious: a young Italian girl is murdered; there are suspects, then the plot thickens — to implicate another young woman. But this case is, if possible, even darker: the initial suspect in 15-year-old Sarah Scazzi's murder was a sinister uncle, a former gravedigger known around town as "the ogre of Avetrana." It was alleged he'd molested his niece before killing her — some media outlets suggesting she was pregnant with his child. Indeed, the uncle confessed to the murder, said he'd had sex with the corpse. and led police to her body. But that's when things got more complicated.

Under questioning, the uncle ultimately admitted that he'd worked with an accomplice: his 20-something daughter, Sabrina. Together, he said, the pair had wanted to "teach [Sarah] a lesson" and had killed her together. Sabrina denies the charges and has denounced her father's version of events; however, her own story has changed several times. And naturally, the press are all over it.

Writes The Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau,

The circumstances are hauntingly similar to the initial investigation into the Kercher murder with headlines painting a picture of Sabrina not so differently than they did of Amanda Knox in early 2007. But like Knox, Sabrina changed her story several times and her alibi has yet to be corroborated. The lack of motive, too, is highly reminiscent of the Perugia case. Local investigators say it could have been jealousy since the two cousins had their romantic sights set on the same local young man.

Advertisement

While perhaps these comparisons are inevitable, it seems both reductive and overly simplistic to draw too much of a parallel. Yes, both the cases involve young women, seemingly acting without motive. Both might accurately be described as "senseless" — but then, what murder isn't? Observes Nadeau, "The lurid details of this latest high-profile crime either point to a disturbing trend in 20-something female killers in Italy, or underscore accusations of total Italian police ineptitude." We're inclined to point to the latter — the case is sensational enough without arbitrary comparisons, and given the extent to which the Knox case was affected by its wild publicity, it doesn't seem like one anyone should be inviting. Before we make this about "20-something female killers," let's remember that this case deals with a specific victim.

Knox's Grisly Successor [Daily Beast]