Camorra mafia’s first female boss dies aged 86: Beauty queen Assunta Maresca shot dead her husband’s murderer as a six-month-pregnant 18-year-old and was linked to other killings
Assunta Maresca, a former beauty queen turned mafia boss, has died aged 86
A former teenage beauty queen who shot dead her husband’s killer before going on to become the head of the powerful Camorra mafia clan has died aged 86.
Assunta Maresca, who was known as Pupetta, meaning little doll, was 18 years old and six months pregnant when she gunned down Antonio Esposito.
Esposito was a former crime partner of her husband, Pasquale Simonetti and was even a witness at his wedding to Maresca in April 1955.
But just two months later, he turned against him and hired Carlo Gaetano Orlando, a small-time member of his entourage, to kill the newlywed in the busy Piazza Mercato in Naples.
Maresca, the daughter of notorious Camorra member Vincenzo Maresca, decided to enact revenge on the crime boss herself, believing the police would turn a blind eye.
She tracked down Esposito in broad daylight and shot him dead with a Smith & Wesson .38.
Maresca was sentenced to 18 years in prison after she defiantly said during her murder trial in 1959, ‘I would do it again!’, prompting the courtroom to erupt with cheers.
The sentence was later reduced to 13 years and four months but she was pardoned after ten years.
The year before the killing, she had won a beauty contest and was named Miss Rovegliano, a suburban village of Naples.
The Maresca family was known as the Lampetielli, the lightning knives, for their use of switchblades, and her father profited from illegal cigarettes.
She later gave birth in prison to Pasqualino and continued to be involved in criminal activities after her release.
The now infamous female mobster became a lover to another Camorra boss, Umberto Ammaturo, and they had twins while she supported his drugs and arms enterprise.
Aged 18, she married Camorra boss Pasquale Simonetti in April 1955 but he was killed just two months later
She even starred in a film about her own life and opened two clothes shops but could not escape a life of crime.
Her eldest son Pasqualino had Camorra ambitions himself before he disappeared aged 18, after meeting Ammaturo on a construction site.
Maresca’s new partner was jealous of Pasqualino and she believes he had the teenager murdered before burying him in cement.
Despite strongly suspecting her new lover of murdering her son, she stuck by his side to help raise their twins.
He has always denied killing Pasqualino.
She was later accused of ordering the killing of Ciro Galli in 1981, a member of the Nuova Camorra Organizzata.
The new gang was an attempt by ruthless clan boss Raffaele Cutolo to revive the Camorra.
In a press conference in 1982, Maresca publicly defied Cutolo after he imposed a tax on all imported cigarettes, and defended her fellow gangsters.
Later that year, she was arrested alongside her partner Ammaturo for the murder of neo-fascist Aldo Semerari whose decapitated body was found in a stolen Fiat.
The scientist was believed to be complicit in a 1980 terror attack in Bologna which killed 80 people.
Maresca has always denied her involvement but spent four years in prison before being acquitted.
But Ammaturo, who had fled to Peru to become a cocaine baron, was extradited to Italy and confessed to the murder after becoming a state witness, breaking the mafia’s omerta or code of silence.
Maresca died aged 86 at her home in Castellammare di Stabia near Pompeii after an illness.
She is remembered as one of the fiercest bosses of the Camorra but insisted she only focused on her clothing stores for the final years of her life.