Mob Boss 'Took With Him His Secrets'

Sicilian 'last Godfather' Matteo Messina Denaro, 61, dies just months after his capture
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2023 7:31 AM CDT
Just Months After Capture, the 'Last Godfather' Dies
Mafia top boss Matteo Messina Denaro.   (Italian Carabinieri/LaPresse via AP)

An infamous Italian mob boss who was captured in January after 30 years on the run has died. Officials tell Reuters that 61-year-old Matteo Messina Denaro, known as the "last godfather," has succumbed to colon cancer, after falling into a coma on Friday from which he never emerged. The Sicilian mobster had been held in a maximum security prison in central Italy until recent weeks, when he was brought to a hospital due to his deteriorating condition. Per state radio, the police detail that had been guarding Denaro's hospital room in L'Aquila shifted to the hospital's morgue around 2am Monday, the AP reports.

Prosecutors in both L'Aquila and Palermo have requested an autopsy, despite the fact that it was common knowledge that Denaro was "afflicted with a very serious illness," per a statement from L'Aquila prosecutors. "You shouldn't deny prayers to anyone, but I can't say I am sorry," Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini posted on Instagram after Denaro's death was announced. Denaro—who "once claimed to have murdered enough people to fill a cemetery," per the AP—wasn't believed to have given up any information on his crimes or others to police before he died.

"He took with him his secrets," state media noted. Denaro, born in the Sicilian town of Castelvetrano, is said to have followed his father into the mob, packing heat as early as age 15 and making his first kill when he was 18. He went into hiding in 1993 and evaded authorities for three decades, though he was sentenced to 20 life sentences for his role in various murders during trials held in absentia—including the 1992 killings of two prominent anti-Mafia prosecutors. He was busted in January as he sought treatment for his cancer; he continued to receive treatment in prison, including chemo. According to Italian state media, Denaro will be buried later this week in Sicily. (More Mafia stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.