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Elisa Claps ‘stabbed to death in church’
MURDER victim Elisa Claps almost certainly reached the loft of the Most Holy Trinity Church alive and was stabbed to death when she got there, Winchester Crown Court heard yesterday.
The 16-year-old schoolgirl died of multiple wounds, nine from the back and three from the front, said Italian pathologist, Professor Francesco Introna.
But Elisa’s attacker was behind her all the time, he said.
Professor Introna also said that all the evidence pointed to the fact that Elisa had died on the day she disappeared, September 12, 1993.
She was killed and then dragged to the “farthest and darkest corner of the loft” and covered with curved tiles.
Italian national Danilo Restivo denies the murder of Heather Barnett on November 12 2002, in a trial that has now entered its fourth week.
He admits meeting Elisa Claps at the church in their home town of Potenza on the day she went missing but has always maintained she was alive and well when he left her.
Professor Introna, chair of legal medicine at the University of Bari, examined Elisa’s mummified remains after they were discovered in March 2010.
He said some of the injuries were inflicted with a knife but others were more likely to have been caused by scissors.
Speaking in English, Professor Introna used a ruler in the witness box to show jurors how the wounds on Elisa were made, talking them through each of the 13 identifiable injuries, marked on a picture of a dummy skeleton.
He said 12 of the injuries were stab wounds and one was a cut, probably the result of the victim moving, possibly in a struggle.
He added: “The different angles of the wounds showed that she either moved or tried to escape or avoid the rapid, successive blows.”
Professor Introna said the recognisable track of most of the wounds was from back to front, though with three of them, the attacker had almost certainly reached round and stabbed from the front, while still standing behind Elisa.
He agreed with Mr Michael Bowes QC, prosecuting, that the lethal force could have happened during some kind of sexual violence.
He said Elisa’s trousers and pants had been partially lowered and her bra unhooked at the back and broken at the front, between the cups.
Identified bruising around the pubic region, the thighs and breast areas were also indicative of a sexual assault.
Later the professor said some light brown hair had been found near the body and this had been “perfectly and squarely cut”.
This was likely to have been done when the strands had been stuck together with blood from the victim’s injuries.
The trial continues.