The Strange Possession of Maria Talarico

by Christine B.

Catanzaro is a mountainous and unassuming town in southern Italy. A few of its residents, however, were involved in a mystery that has remained unsolved for generations.

In 1936 the body of Giuseppe “Pepe” Veraldi was discovered beneath a thirty foot high bridge that spanned a ravine in Catanzaro. It was undetermined how Pepe ended up dead under the bridge, but it was assumed that he jumped.

Since there was no evidence of foul play, the police reported that the death was due to a suicide. Pepe’s family was dumbfounded by the verdict, as they knew of no reason for Pepe to take his own life.

Three years after Pepe’s death a teenaged girl named Maria Talarico was walking under the bridge in the area where Pepe’s body had been found. Without warning she passed out for no apparent reason. After she regained consciousness she was taken to her home. Maria’s voice was much deeper and sounded as if it was coming from a man. When asked to give her name, Maria said that she was Pepe Veraldi.

Maria then demanded to speak with Pepe’s widowed mother. Before Mrs. Veraldi arrived Maria asked for wine, cigarettes and playing cards and then asked that the people there join (her) him in a card game. Maria spoke to the neighbors present as if they were old friends, although before this incident she had not known them. When Mrs. Veraldi arrived she was shocked to hear her son’s voice coming from Maria. Maria told the shaken woman that s(he) had been murdered and then announced the names of the boys who had thrown him off the bridge.

After Maria made that announcement, she ran from her home and went back to the bottom of the bridge, followed closely by Mrs. Veraldo and the others who were present at the Talarico home. Maria laid down in the exact spot where she had been found unconscious and then fell back into that state. Mrs. Veraldi told her son to remove himself from Maria’s body and the girl woke up without having any memory of what had happened to her after her first collapse.

Nine years later Mrs Veraldi received a letter from one of her late son’s former friends, Luigi “Toto” Marchete. He had left Italy and moved to Argentina shortly after Pepe’s death. In the letter Luigi admitted that he and three other friends had murdered Pepe because of his association with a woman Luigi had cared for. The letter went on to name the other conspirators, who were the exact names Maria had mentioned while possessed by Pepe.

One of the men mentioned in Luigi’s letter had already died by this time, and since Luigi was in a country that did not honor extradition, he was safe from prosecution. However, the other two men were arrested, tried and sent to jail for their role in Pepe’s death.

Since Maria Talarico had never met Pepe, his friends or Mrs. Veraldi before she fell into a “trance,” no one has ever been able to unravel the mystery of her possession.

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