Parents of US teen accused of killing Italian cop address media

‘We are looking forward to the truth coming out!’ Parents of US teen accused of fatally stabbing Italian cop insist ‘the public has an incomplete account of the true version of events’ as their son and his friend remain behind bars in Rome

  • US students Finnegan Elder and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth are accused of killing an undercover cop in a scuffle in Rome on July 26 
  • Finnegan and Gabriel were arrested and are currently being detained in an Italian prison
  • Italian prosecutors say Finnegan confessed to knifing the police officer
  • However, in a statement on Saturday, Finnegan’s family claimed that the public has not been given a complete account of the facts
  • They insisted on their son’s innocence and said ‘they are looking forward to him returning home to the US’
  • Both Finnegan and Gabriel hail from wealthy San Francisco families

The family of one of the two California teenagers held in the slaying of an Italian police officer say they are ‘looking forward to the truth coming out and our son coming home’.

Speaking on behalf of the parents of Finnegan Elder on Saturday, attorney Craig Peters stated: ‘We feel the public has an incomplete account of the true version of these events’.

Peters read the short statement in front of the home of Elder family home in San Francisco, where he he also paid tribute to the family of slain Carabinieri officer Mario Cerciello Rega. 

‘We continue to hold his family in our thoughts and pray for them at this difficult time,’ Peters said.

Peters also said that Finnegan was ‘tired, remorseful and scared. He has our full support, and we stand by his side.’

The statement came after Finnegan’s father, Ethan Elder, returned from visiting his jailed 19-year-old son in Rome.

The devastated family of Finnegan Elder are pictured outside their home in San Francisco on Saturday. Finnegan remains behind bars in Rome, Italy accused of fatally stabbing an undercover police officer on July 26

Italian prosecutors say Finnegan (left) confessed to knifing Carabinieri officer Mario Cerciello Rega. His friend Gabriel Natale-Hjorth (right ) is also being held in custody as the investigation continues

Italian prosecutors say Finnegan confessed to knifing Carabinieri officer Mario Cerciello Rega during a July 26 scuffle.

According to court documents, Finnegan said he thought a strange man was strangling him and he didn’t know Cerciello Rega was a plainclothes police officer.

Prosecutors say Elder has confessed to knifing Rega (pictured) 11 times. The officer later died at a local hospital

Police officer Cerciello Rega, 35, had returned from his honeymoon a few days earlier and was scheduled to be off work when he and a partner were assigned to respond to a small-scale extortion attempt involving a failed drug deal and a stolen backpack, Italian authorities have said.

He was stabbed 11 times with an 18-centimeter-long (7 inches) military-style attack knife that investigators reported finding in the drop ceiling of the Americans’ hotel room, police said.

Finnegan’s friend, 18-year-old Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, also is in custody while the investigation continues. Prosecutors say he punched and kicked the officer’s partner, Andrea Varriale, while the stabbing was taking place.

A judge who upheld the teens’ detention a week ago wrote in her decision that Varriale said they identified themselves as Carabinieri and showed their badges but were attacked right away. Judge Chiara Gallo also said that Finnegan did not have marks on his neck consistent with an attempted strangling.

No charges have been brought against either American.

The boys both hail from wealthy families who reside in affluent Mill Valley, a hamlet in California’s Bay Area. 

Finnegan’s father, Ethan, is a successful businessman, while Gabriel’s father, Fabrizio Natale, is a notedl financier.

This picture was released by Italian Carabinieri during a press conference in Rome on Tuesday. It shows the knife used to stab Rega early Friday

Hundreds of people turned out to honor Rega outside a chapel in Rome last Sunday

The fathers have both visited their sons in prison and last week spoke about the pain of seeing them imprisoned.  

Fabrizio Natale has told how he hugged and cried with his son Gabriel during an emotional meeting at a jail in central Rome where the two young Americans are being held in connection to the stabbing death of undercover police officer Mario Cerciello Rega.

‘We are very upset by the predicament he’s in, but we are all fully convinced of his innocence,’ Fabrizio said. 

Ethan Elder said: ‘It’s a nightmare. After seeing the picture of Gabriel [Natale-Hjorth] blindfolded and Fin in the hotel room my wife and I feared the worst for our son.

‘But we have been reassured that he has not been mistreated in any way.’ 

Last week, Ethan Elder arrived at the Rome prison for an emotional two and a half hour reunion with his son, Finnegan

Fabrizio Natale, who was born in Italy and brought his son Gabriel to the country every summer to spend time with his grandfather Giuseppe, declined to comment about the ‘blindfolding’ incident.

He said: ‘I’m not commenting about the treatment he suffered at the time of his arrest.

‘I know he suffered this treatment at the moment of the arrest. I know an investigation has been opened by the Rome prosecutor. And therefore, I’m convinced that if rules were broken someone will be held responsible.’

Finnegan, 19, (left) told police he stabbed Italian police officer Rega because he thought the officer was going to strangle him on Friday while he interrupted a drug deal gone wrong. During questioning, Gabriel was seen blindfolded and chained in a police station

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