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What Really Drove Criminal Minds Serial Killer Onario Alighieri To A Life Of Crime

Fans of CBS' long-running crime procedural "Criminal Minds" know that the killers featured in the series and its spinoffs are some of the most demented and depraved murderers to stalk the small screen. To catch these monsters, the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) scrutinizes the crime scenes, using the gathered clues to build profiles that often hypothesize aspects of a killer's past and present.

In "Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders," the Bureau's International Response Team (IRT) applies this technique to crimes involving Americans living or traveling abroad. In Season 2, Episode 2, "Il Mostro," the team takes on a disturbing case with connections to one of Italy's worst real-life serial killers, the mysterious "Monster of Florence." The killer in "Il Mostro," Onario Alighieri (Luca Malacrino), challenges the question of whether killers are born or created. Was Alighieri's upbringing the catalyst for his heinous crimes? Or was it, as he believes, the curse of his blood?

Onario has links to the real-life Monster of Florence

The real-life Monster of Florence was active in Italy from 1974 to 1985. The suspect, who was never identified or caught, targeted couples parked in cars in remote areas of Florence's suburbs, killing at least 14 people (via Florence Webguide). In "Il Mostro," the IRT is alerted to a double homicide in Florence that has the hallmarks of the Monster's decades-old killings. Throughout the episode, the 22-year-old Onario Alighieri's horrific past is revealed.

A child of incest, Alighieri was born in 1994 to Renada Scarpa, who was raped and impregnated by her brother, Dominico. While on trial for the assault, Dominico alleged that his sister's story was the result of drug addiction and other mental health issues. Fearing the trial would end in Dominico's favor (which it later did), Renada ran away to Naples. There, after an unsuccessful attempt at giving herself an abortion, Renada soon dies in childbirth. The baby, born with developmental disabilities linked to his incestuous origins, is sent to live with Renada and Dominico's mother, Elisa.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Onario was an abused child born of rape and incest

Elisa's first act of abuse is giving Onario the last name Alighieri, a twisted homage to the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri whose "Divine Comedy" offers one of the most disturbing descriptions of Hell in literary history. Though it started with a name, Elisa's abuse of Onario expanded to physical abuse as well. As he grew, Onario's violent nature grew as well, resulting in the murder of a classmate when he was 15 years old. After a six-year stint in juvenile detention, Onario is released and sets out to understand his sick urges.

Confronting his grandmother, Onario learns he is a child of rape and incest and that his father, Dominico, was once the prime suspect in the Monster of Florence case. Instead of being repulsed by his heritage, Onario begins to see his murderous urges as part of his genetics. He also starts to idolize his father and eventually seeks him out.

Did nature or nurture make Onario a killer?

After being acquitted for the rape of his sister, Dominico (Paul Sorvino) left Europe, traveling the world and murdering for years. Upon a diagnosis of terminal cancer, he returned to Italy, intending to "retire" from his evil work. When Onario contacts him, Dominico sees his son as a way of continuing his homicidal legacy. He encourages Onario to kill and to adopt the modus operandi he used as the Monster of Florence. Before the IRT find and kill Onario, he murders two couples on his father's orders. With his son dead, and his legacy over, Dominico is arrested and later dies in prison.

In the end, there's no definitive answer to what drove Onario to kill. Perhaps the abandonment, abuse, and developmental disabilities worked together to shape him into "Il Mostro." Or perhaps he truly inherited a darkness from his father, the Monster. Even after several viewings, the episode leaves room for either theory to be true.