A Bloody Family History: Għaxaq Woman Murdered By Her Son Was Shot To Death At Home Just Like Her Father

Marija Lourdes Bonnici's father was the victim of an unsolved murder several decades ago


Malta was recently stunned by the case of Joseph Bonnici, a seemingly regular man who police believe shot his own mother and sister at their Ħal Għaxaq home before partially burying their bodies in a field.

And while Bonnici’s motives are still unknown, his actions ultimately consigned his mother Marija Lourdes to the same fate that her own father had suffered 42 years ago.

It was back in 1977 when Ġużeppi Callus was shot to death with a single bullet outside his home in Kirkop, a murder that remains unsolved to this day.

The eldest of nine children, Marija Lourdes was 27 years old on that fateful evening and was reportedly watching a religious procession along with seven of her siblings when her father was shot in the chest.


Police comb the scene of Ġużeppi Callus' murder in 1977

As reported by Illum a few years ago, police believed that the killer had hid in a tree outside the family home and used a hunting shotgun to fire a single shot in Callus’ chest as he stepped outside for a smoke.

Callus’ wife Angela heard the gunshot and ran outside to help, but the wounds went too deep and her husband died in her arms before an ambulance could arrive on scene.

Police suspected that the killer had studied the family’s movements well and that they must have known Callus would eventually leave the house for a smoke. Moreover, they believed it was no coincidence that his murder took place on an evening when eight of his children weren’t at home, meaning it was easier for the killer to flee the scene.

The killer was never found, but Callus' widow later said she believed he was killed because of his political affiliations.


The house in Ħal Għaxaq were the Bonnicis used to live

On May 2000, murder seeped into Marija Lourdes’ life once more, this time after her husband Paul shot his neighbours Joseph and Carmela Dalli dead outside their home in Ħal Għaxaq during an argument. He pleaded guilty to the homicide five years later and was sentenced to 31 years in prison.

Then, 19 years later, Paul’s son Joseph Bonnici admitted during a police interrogation to the double murder of his mother Maria Lourdes and his sister Angele and led police officers to a field near Gudja where he had partially buried the bodies.

He is pleading not guilty to several charges, including homicide, being in possession of an unlicensed weapon, hiding the corpses and giving false testimony to the police.

Cover photo: From left: Ġużeppi Callus, Marija Lourdes Callus, Joseph Bonnici

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Written By

Tim Diacono

Tim Diacono tends to clam up when asked to describe himself. You can contact him on [email protected]