The man charged with murdering his mother and sister in their Għaxaq home told police that one of the reasons he killed them was out of revenge for the contents of his ex-girlfriend’s suicide note.
Joseph Bonnici has been charged with the double homicide of his mother Marija Lourdes and his sister Angele, with police suspecting he had killed them at home before driving their bodies to a nearby field.
Testifying in court today, Inspector John Spiteri recounted how Joseph Bonnici had told him during his interrogation that his girlfriend had committed suicide in that same residence in 2009. In her suicide note, she said that Bonnici’s mother Marija Lourdes Bonnici could be at peace as she had always disapproved of their relationship.
Police believe that Bonnici had blamed his mother for convincing his father to kill two neighbours back in 2000, a case for which he is serving a 31-year prison sentence. He also believed that his sister was plotting to have him jailed for abuse.
Police inspector Keith Arnaud confirmed that the victims never filed a report about alleged abuse against Bonnici, nor did they contact any social workers in this regard.
However, the suspect’s current girlfriend testified that Angele Bonnici had told her that her brother used to touch her inappropriately in the past and that their mother was aware of this. When confronted about this allegation, Bonnici denied it and argued that his sister was just trying to blackmail him into giving her money so that she could buy a new car.
Cross examined by Bonnici’s lawyer Franco Debono, the suspect’s girlfriend described her boyfriend as “the most amazing person I know”.
“He had helped me out of an abusive relationship and he always loved and respected me,” she said, as Bonnici started sobbing in the dock. “He’s the quiet type and wouldn’t usually talk unless asked to, and I didn’t ask much. He was always calm and gentle and he was never aggressive, not even with our pets.”
The double murder appeared to be premeditated, planned for a night when Bonnici’s girlfriend would be working till late and when the rain would wash away traces of the murder.
On 26th March at around 9pm, Bonnici tripped a circuit breaker, instantly switching off CCTV footage of the house. He then called his sister to help him fix the electric fault and shot her twice in the back of the head, with a gun he had manufactured himself, as she approached the garden door. When he realised she was still breathing, he smashed her head in with a mallet.
Bonnici then called his mother, using the short circuit excuse again, shot her once in the head and again used the mallet to finish her off.
Police believe he then placed his victims’ heads in garbage bags to prevent blood from trickling out and dragged them into the boot of his van. He then went to bed and pretended to be asleep as he waited for his girlfriend to return from work. When he was sure she was asleep, he loaded the bodies onto a cart he had built himself, drove them to a field in Gudja and buried them there, covering their bodies with lime to try and neutralise the smell.
When police found the bodies a few days later, the garbage bags were still tied around their heads, Angele’s legs were tied and Marija Lourdes had a small pouch containing €4,500 near her chest.
Cover photo: From left: Marija Lourdes Bonnici, Joseph Bonnici, Angele Bonnici