Former beauty pageant winner Assunta Maresca, who rose to fame in the mid-1950s by reclaiming her husband’s murderer, died at age 86.
As The Guardian notes, she was the first female leader of the Neapolitan Mafia.
Maresca was 18 years old and six months pregnant when she tracked down a high-ranking member of the Camorra, Antonio Esposito, who had ordered the murder of her husband. She shot and killed him in the streets of Naples. At the trial, she stated that she would do it again.
The investigation believed there were several shooters, but Assunta Maresca, nicknamed Pupetta (“Dolly”), wanting to strengthen her position in the Mafia world, insisted that she was the only murderer.
Maresca gave birth to a child already in prison. She did not meet her son Pasqualino until 14 years after his release. She actively continued to participate in the criminal life of Naples and her other nickname was Madame Camorra.
Maresca then began to live with the arms and drug dealer Umberto Ammaturo, and they had twins. However, Doll’s lover had a grudge against her eldest son, who expected to gain a foothold in the Neapolitan Mafia.
In 1974, Pasqualino went to meet Ammaturo and disappeared. His mother suspected that the lover had killed her son. She later recounted that she quarreled with Ammaturo constantly, but because of their children together she did not leave him.
Maresca was later suspected of involvement in the murder of Ciro Galli, a member of the New Organization of the Camorra, a rival group created by Raffaele Cutolo. Coutolo publicly challenged him in the media.
In 1982, Maresca and Ammaturo were arrested for the murder of a scholar and neo-fascist. Dolly spent four years behind bars and was released.
She died in her home in Castellammare di Stabia after an illness.