On December 23, 2022, Joe Bevilacqua died after a brief illness at age of 87 in Sesto Fiorentino (Florence, Italy).
Bevilacqua was a witness in the Pacciani trial in 1994. At the time, he was an ABMC superintendent in Italy with 20 years career in the Army performing undercover assignments as a CID detective for 10 years between 1964 and 1974.
I have investigated into Bevilacqua for years after having met with him a few times in the summer 2017. During a phone conversation in september 2017, he admitted to me his responsability for both the span of crimes committed by the Monster of Florence and the Zodiac Killer – I told the police and through a journalistic inquiry in 2018.
The official investigation onto Bevilacqua for the Monster of Florence’s murders were closed in 2021 by the Florence Prosecutor’s Office for lack of “factual elements”.
The Italian Authorities never have taken in examination the “Zodiac connection” nor contacted the US Department of Justice or the detectives in charge of the Zodiac case (edited in January 2023).
Below is the main official documentation on Giuseppe / Joseph Bevilacqua released to me by various United States government agencies or that I found online since 2018. Before the records, which are downloadable, I inserted a mini biography.
Giuseppe Bevilacqua, nicknamed “Joe“, was born in Totowa, New Jersey, on December 20, 1935, into an Italian-American family.
In 1954, Bevilacqua was drafted into the Army and transferred to Germany. A few years later, he became a CBR chemical instructor, a specialty he performed until 1964, when he joined the 5th Criminal Investigation Detachment of the Military Police in Leghorn, Italy.
During the time of the Zodiac murders/letters (1966-1974 circa), Bevilacqua worked as an undercover detective with the Army CID. This information comes from Bevilacqua himself and other subjects that are not mentioned here according to the ethic rules of journalism on source protection.
In 1968, Bevilacqua was assigned to Vietnam. Decorations obtained: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Soldier’s Medal, Purple Heart.
Bevilacqua’s military ID card says he was 5′ 8” tall (the same as Zodiac according to four eyewitnesses), in the 90s. Also, he was about 200 pounds weight, like the serial killer. His stocky body and prominent stomach were two characteristics that would have accompanied him into old age. Bevilacqua had thick, dark, crew cut hair, which will be dyed white starting in the 1980s. His appearance matched the witnesses’ testimonies on Zodiac with the partial exception of the hair which was described differently after every known sights (use of wigs, possibly).
In the end of June 1974, Bevilacqua retired from the Army with the rank of first sergeant and settled in the American Cemetery and Memorial of Florence, Italy, working with the ABMC as superintendent trainee of the cemetery.
While Bevilacqua stayed in Florence, the serial killer of couples nicknamed “Monster” killed 14 boys in the countryside surrounding the Tuscan city. Most of the crimes took place less than half an hour’s drive from the American cemetery.
Three years circa after the Monster’s last known crime, in 1989, the ABMC transferred Bevilacqua to Nettuno, near Rome. He was then called to testify in the Pacciani trial on the last double murder of the Monster, which had taken place about three hundred yards as the crow flies from his home, in 1985.
Bevilacqua said to the Court he saw the defendant and the victims a few days before their death. He made a serious mistake, claiming to have learned of the murders the day after the crime, when the news had not yet been disclosed.
Retired since 2010, married and with three adult daughters, Bevilacqua currently lives in a suburb of Florence.
In 2017, after a few meetings for a project on his biography, he admitted to me his responsibility in the murders of the Zodiac and the Monster cases.
In 2018, I made a complaint to the police and published the first article on Bevilacqua’s involvement in serial crimes. You can read it and the others here on the blog.
The first official public record attesting to Joe Bevilacqua’s military career is a Marine Corps muster roll of 1953, where his name is present.
1954 – 1974, Army
The Official Military Personnel File is a form hold by the National Personnel Records Center that contains basic information on each American soldier. For example, list of assignments, medals, as well as other material on his military career, which, however, cannot be requested by people other than the veteran, heirs or by the law enforcement.
Some information in the OMPF could be released upon request under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA).
I make available the reader the excerpts from Bevilacqua’s OMPF that I received for the second time from the NPRC in 2019.
The absence of references to California in Bevilacqua’s list of public assignments is explainable. For his own admission, since 1966, due to his undercover activity, his real assignments in the detachments of the Army Criminal Investigation (since 1971, Army Criminal Investigation Command) which he would left in June 1974 are not reported.
Beyond its incompleteness, the list of assignments does not contain “alibi”. The presence of two assignments at units located in Vietnam, in 1968, and in Germany, in 1970, does not exclude transfers for work or licenses to San Francisco on the dates in which Zodiac committed a murder (December 20, 1968) and sent a few letters, starting from a postcard dated April 28, 1970.
Through an examination of the Pan Am schedules, there are no particular difficulties in reaching the Californian city from the areas where Bevilacqua was assigned, that is, from Saigon and Frankfurt, on those dates.
In 1971, Zodiac stopped writing for three years, which roughly corresponds to the period of Bevilacqua’s assignment to Camp Darby, Italy (1971-1974). The last letter attributed by the police to the serial killer was sent on January 29, 1974, five months before Bevilacqua’s retirement from the army.
The list of assignments also contains some transcription mistakes (“USA” instead of “USAREUR” – US Army Europe, for example).
Bevilacqua’s list of assignments is not the original but an end-of-career transcript. It can be deduced from the fact that it was compiled by the same typewriter, while the original one, compiled at each assignment, should have looked like the one at this link.
1974 – 2010, American Battle Monuments Commission
Official records from the US agency that manages monumental war cemeteries, the ABMC, attest that Bevilacqua began working and residing in the American Cemetery in Florence from July 1, 1974 until 1988, when he was transferred to Nettuno.
According to the annual reports of the ABMC, both in the days of the Borgo San Lorenzo crime, in 1974, and in 1981, when the Monster started the wave of his murders of the 1980s, there were no American official other than Bevilacqua that resided in the cemetery.
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