WORLD NEWS
07/27/2019 14:11 EDT | Updated 07/29/2019 10:08 EDT

2 American Teens Confess To Stabbing Death Of Rome Officer, Police Say

Christian Gabriel Natale Hjorth and Finnegan Lee Elder, both 19, are being held pending formal charges in the killing of Deputy Brig. Mario Cerciello Rega.

Two 19-year-old Americans have confessed to the grisly stabbing death of a police officer in Rome.

According to Italy’s Carabinieri police force, Christian Gabriel Natale Hjorth and Finnegan Lee Elder were arrested and admitted to killing 35-year-old Deputy Brig. Mario Cerciello Rega after stealing a backpack from an Italian man.

Authorities say the teens threatened the man in a phone call, refusing to return it unless they were given 100 euros ($111) and a gram of cocaine. 

When Rega arrived on the scene Friday, he was stabbed eight times and died. The officer was married less than two months ago and had just celebrated his birthday.

The Carabinieri posted a photo of Rega on its Facebook page Friday, mourning the loss and sending sympathy to his family.

Hjorth and Lee are detained in Rome’s Regina Coeli district jail for aggravated murder and attempted extortion, according to CBS News, and are awaiting formal charges. According to The New York Times, both were born in San Francisco.

During an investigation, which began immediately after the killing and involved the use of surveillance footage and witness testimonials, authorities found the two inside a Rome hotel as they were preparing to leave the country.

In their room, “a knife of considerable size” was discovered hidden beneath a ceiling panel, a police statement said. The clothing Hjorth and Lee allegedly wore during the crime was also found.

Rega’s funeral will be held Monday in the church where 43 days ago he was married, CBS News reported.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated Elder’s name as “Elder Finnegan Lee.”