It was 1996 on Saturday 10 August - a glorious bright morning, full of life. We breathed an air full of happiness. Our children - Rossana six, Angela three and Naomi one and a half – had got up happy looking forward to a day out with all our friends and relations: a picnic on Mount Faito near Naples.
Every year, in summer at the end of Sunday school for children, as a sort of catechism, our Christian community organised a day’s games and leisure time on Monte Faito, Vico Equense (NA) just a few kilometres from our home (from our balcony the only view one can see is Mount Faito).
At last everything was ready and at about 10-10:30 we drove up the mountain in our car to the meeting place arranged beforehand with our friends.
Every year we would go to the now-closed horse riding stables of Faito. For the space it offers, it is a nice place to go for a quiet picnic. However on that day, 10 August 1996, the space was already taken up by many families so - as by now were on the mountain - it was decided that we would look for another place – in particular, somewhere for the children to play happily and safely. We found a place that met our needs near the sports ground.
All told, there were 40 of us, adults and children.
From the beginning the children and youngsters started amusing themselves with the ball, swing, hammock, tug-of-war, smaller balls, karaoke etc. Meanwhile, the rest of the group prepared and laid some tables for the lunch while others cleaned a space around them.
The morning was spent in enjoyment and free of worries.
At about mid-day the youngest children - including Angela - had lunch, while the adults organised a game of football.
At about 1 pm or just before, we were all having lunch and Angela asked me (Catello, her father) if he would put her in the hammock. I answered I would have let her play on the hammock a bit later. After finishing the rice salad, I asked Maria (Angela’s mother) whether there was anything else apart from salad and whether Angela had had her lunch. Maria said she would have made up a roll for me and that Angela had already had eaten, but that I could have asked her if she was still hungry. At that moment I turned round saying: “Angela come to daddy…!” convinced that she was still behind me – I had indeed spoken to her only a few minutes earlier. But I realised that she was no longer there and that there was no sign of her at all. While I looked around hoping to see her, I heard Maria ask me what I wanted in my roll, and replied: "…never mind the roll … I can’t see Angela".
THE SEARCHES ON MONTE FAITO
With these words spoken, everyone started to look for her. And when, after a few minutes, we realised she wasn’t in the vicinity, we immediately called the Carabinieri at Vico Equense (one of their patrol cars was parked only a few minutes away, 500 m from us at the entrance to the sports area).
In less than 2 hours, that place filled up with hundreds of people all looking for Angela. Before evening drew in, the soldiers of the army had joined with the other forces (Carabinieri, Police, Fire Brigade, Local Traffic Police, Finance Police, Civil Protection, Volunteers of Faito) for the search operations.
For four days and nights we remained there looking for Angela, leaving Mount Faito only when it became certain she was not on the mountain. Someone had abducted her right from the outset.
For four days all the means available in 1996 were used. Immediately on the scene were dog handlers, a military helicopter equipped with sophisticated infrared search instrumentation that could pinpoint bodies moving in the night; also at night horses, which can sense persons in the dark; sniffer dogs, which can smell a body up to 2 metres underground. The assistance of speleologists and rock climbers was requested, and given, to rule out that Angela had wandered off and fallen down somewhere. Mount Faito has many steep gullies and concealed nooks. Wells were explored that collect rainwater as they were once used by the derelict riding stables. Mount Faito was overturned for four long days and nights. But not even a shadow of Angela was found …