Italian police have launched an investigation into a picture showing a U.S. student suspected of killing an officer in a blindfold and handcuffs soon after the arrest.Two American teenagers were arrested on Saturday in Rome accused of the fatal stabbing of Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, a Italian military police officer, in a drug deal gone awry.Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 18, are both from San Francisco, and had been holidaying in the Italian capital.The pair are due in court today to face charges of murder and extortion. A picture circulating online reportedly depicts Natale-Hjorth in a gray blindfold while in custody. The Carabinieri command in Rome said it was “carrying out with extreme urgency an investigation to identify who is responsible” for leaking the picture.Investigators said the two teenagers stole the backpack of a man who helped them buy “fake” cocaine and demanded euros 100 and a gram of the real drug for its return. The intermediary told police of the theft and two plainclothes officers went to the rendezvous, where Rega, was stabbed 11 times in a brawl.
In this combo photo released by Italian Carabinieri, Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, right, and Finnegan Lee Elder, sit in their hotel room in Rome. Two American teenagers were jailed in Rome on Saturday as authorities carry out a murder investigation in the killing of Italian police officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35.
Italian Carabinieri /
According to a statement from the Carabinieri, the Americans confessed to the crime after police found a hidden knife in the ceiling of their hotel room.In California, the Elder family posted a handwritten note on their door asking for privacy and released a statement expressing condolences to Rega’s grieving family.“We are shocked and dismayed at the events that have been reported. [We] have not [had] any communication with our son,” read the statement.According to Italian media reports citing police, Mr Elder confessed to the killing but said that he did not realize that Rega was a police officer because the officers involved were both in plainclothes and he did not understand Italian.