Suspect in Florence slaying left victim alive, lawyer says

FLORENCE, Italy -- Italian prosecutors on Thursday laid out evidence collected against a key suspect in the death of an American woman who was strangled and suffered deadly head trauma in her Florence apartment: They said a Senegalese man she met at a disco had left "decisive" DNA traces on a condom and cigarette butt at her home and was using her cellphone.

See Full Article

Cheik Tidiane Diaw, a 27-year-old who had arrived in Italy from Senegal in recent months, admitted under questioning that he and Ashley Olsen, 35, had fought violently after a night of drugs and sex but denied strangling her and never intended to kill her, his lawyer said.

Diaw was arrested early Thursday at his brother's apartment and is being held on suspicion of aggravated homicide, Florence chief prosecutor Giuseppe Creazzo told a news conference.

Street-mounted security cameras and witnesses reported that Diaw and Olsen had left Florence's Montecarla nightclub in the early hours of Jan. 8 and went to her home.

Once there, they had consensual sex. But sometime afterward, Olsen's skull was fractured in two places with blows so violent they alone could have killed her, Creazzo said. She was subsequently strangled, apparently with a cord or rope.

Olsen's naked body was discovered the following day by her Italian boyfriend, who asked the apartment's owner to let him in because he hadn't heard from her in a few days, authorities have said.

Diaw acknowledged under questioning that he and Olsen had had consensual sex, were drunk and had been high on cocaine, his lawyer Antonio Voce told The Associated Press. But Diaw denied strangling her, left her alive on her bed and never intended to kill her, Voce said.

Voce said Diaw told investigators that they had fought when she tried to push him out of the apartment fearing her boyfriend would be arriving. After being pushed against the door, Diaw responded by punching Olsen in the neck and then pushing her to the ground, where she hit her head, Voce said.

Diaw helped her to the bed and left.

"He felt taken advantage of," Voce said. "She was still alive when he left."

Creazzo said Diaw had offered "substantially admissive" testimony in response to the accusations during a preliminary interrogation that lasted until 4 a.m. Thursday. Diaw has not been charged.

Police detained Diaw after DNA analysis came back from a used condom and cigarette butt found in Olsen's toilet, as well as biological samples taken from under her fingernails that belonged to Diaw, Creazzo said.

Investigators matched that evidence with a DNA sample taken from a cigarette Diaw smoked while being questioned at the police station, prosecutors said. They said the tests were conducted in "record time."

Diaw had also taken Olsen's cellphone, put his own SIM card in it and used it, Creazzo said.

"We have gathered serious indications of guilt against him," Creazzo said, adding however, that a judge must confirm the arrest.

Creazzo said Diaw had arrived in Italy illegally a few months ago to join brothers who had been there for some time. He told investigators he was working odd jobs, handing out flyers for local nightspots.

Creazzo said the investigation continues but that no other suspects were at the scene of the crime. He said investigators had reached "a great point" in the investigation following the "decisive proof" from the DNA analysis.

Authorities have been at pains to not jump to conclusions in the case, given the intense international media interest that harks back to the Amanda Knox case. Knox and her Italian boyfriend were convicted in the 2007 death of her British roommate. They were then acquitted, convicted again and finally exonerated after an eight-year saga that cast a poor light on Italy's police and investigative magistrates.

Creazzo seemed almost apologetic that he hadn't been able to provide more information before Thursday's arrest. But he said that since Diaw was in Italy illegally, police would have had little hope of finding him if he had been tipped off that police were closing in on him and tried to flee.

Olsen moved to Florence a few years ago and was active in the expatriate arts scene. Her father is a professor at a local design institute. Late Thursday, family members gathered at the chapel of the morgue where her body was being held.

A funeral was scheduled for Friday afternoon at the Santo Spirito church in Florence's Oltrarno neighbourhood where Olsen lived. Friends say the church steps were a favourite hang-out spot for Olsen, her friends and her beloved beagle, Scout.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Time to flee the Robolution

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The federal budget was chilling in many ways, but here’s what scares me the most: Robots are after your job. Those career-snatching tin cans were a focus of finance minister Bill Morneau’s speech, which outlined $5.2 billion in job retraining for us poor human schmucks. Source
  • Spoiled brat Red Bull heir wins new delay

    World News Toronto Sun
    BANGKOK — An heir to the Red Bull fortune won another delay Thursday in facing charges over an alleged hit-and-run that killed a police officer almost five years ago. Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya has been a no-show for meetings with prosecutors on several occasions, complaining through his attorney of unfair treatment, or citing duties out of the country. Source
  • Russian granny decapitates pal, boils head

    World News Toronto Sun
    A barbaric babushka - called ‘The Granny Ripper’ - beheaded a pal then boiled her head and cops fear she has more victims. According to Russian prosecutors, Tamara Samsonova, 68, knocked out her friend Valentina Ulanova, 79, with 50 sleeping pills she crushed into a salad. Source
  • Waste-of-time Tories should get off ballot

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    If not for the convoluted rat’s nest that federal Conservatives have concocted to choose their next leader, Friday’s midnight deadline to get off the ballot might have had a few takers. But the odds are good no one will pull the pin, and that includes the truly hopeless among the baker’s dozen-plus-one vying to kick interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose out of Stornoway, and take on the Pied Piperism of Justin Trudeau in 2019. Source
  • Top aide to U.S. President Trump leaves administration

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- A top aide to President Donald Trump said she is leaving his administration to join a pro-Trump outside group, America First Policies. Deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh said Thursday she decided to make the move after the Trump-backed health care bill failed last week to amass enough support to clear the House. Source
  • Roger Daltrey: 'Dead dog’ would have beaten Hillary Clinton

    World News Toronto Sun
    LONDON — Roger Daltrey says “a dead dog” would have beaten Hillary Clinton in the U.S. presidential election. The Who’s legendary front man tells the British music news website NME that President Donald Trump “really didn’t win” the election because Democrats “threw it away. Source
  • Former ’Top Model’ contestant among Houston shooting victims

    World News Toronto Sun
    HOUSTON — One of the four people wounded in a Houston shooting that also killed two victims was a former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model” and the sister of one of the men who died. Court records identified 32-year-old Brandy Rusher as one of the wounded. Source
  • Police seek driver who 'intentionally rammed' cruiser in Toronto

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Police say they're looking for a driver who rammed an OPP cruiser with his car on Highway 401 in east-end Toronto early Thursday. Provincial police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says an officer noticed a vehicle without plates and pulled up beside it to get a look at the driver. Source
  • 'It starts with hope': Indigenous Affairs Minister announces funding for Ontario First Nations children

    Canada News CBC News
    Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett has announced $9.11 million to help Ontario First Nations raise children in healthy and safe environments. "It starts with hope," Bennett said during a visit on Thursday to Sudbury, Ont. Source
  • Fire burns through at least 125 hectares of marsh in Point Pelee National Park

    Canada News CTV News
    LEAMINGTON, Ont. - A southwestern Ontario national park popular with bird watchers is closed after a fire burned through part of the site on the north shore of Lake Erie. Leamington, Ont., fire officials say the blaze at Point Pelee National Park appears to be out. Source