A 27-year-old Italian man named Mattia Del Zotto has been arrested after police obtained evidence that he poisoned his entire family over the summer using thallium. By now, 3 of his family members have died whilst 5 remain in the hospital for treatment.
Mr. Del Zotto was detained in the Monza, near Milan, after police reportedly found the receipts for the poison on his computer.
They became suspicious of him as he was the only one of the family not to need treatment. He is accused of sprinkling the toxic chemical thallium in the pasta of his paternal grandparents and aunt during a family lunch. All three died in the weeks afterward.
Thallium, a poisonous soft metal that completely dissolves in water, is both odorless and tasteless.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thallium-poisoning victim relative held (4) - Man's grandparents and aunt are dead, 5 others in hospital <a href="https://t.co/e84falnXiD">https://t.co/e84falnXiD</a></p>— Ansa English News (@ansa_english) <a href="https://twitter.com/ansa_english/status/938773984979701760?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 7, 2017</a></blockquote>
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After the arrest, Mr Del Zotto confessed he had wanted to "punish those impure people", according to Italian prosecutors.
His mother admitted to investigators that her troubled son had joined a cult at the beginning of the year.
Thallium, a soft metal, dissolves in water and is odorless and tasteless.
It was once used as a rodent killer, but in 1973 the World Health Organisation recommended it to be discontinued because of its toxicity to humans. The initial symptoms of thallium poisoning include gastrointestinal problems, delirium and then finally a coma. Hair loss, psychotic behavior, and severe organ damage can also occur.
Poisoning can be treated with an antidote of Prussian blue, which prevents the thallium from being absorbed.
Back in the 1990s, Iraqi security agents were using thallium to poison the enemies of the then leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.