Widow who slayed husband’s killer in Mafia feud dies at 86

AP International News

ROME (AP) — Assunta “Pupetta” Maresca, the widow of a Naples organized crime boss who was convicted of gunning down her husband’s presumed killer for revenge, later challenged a powerful Camorra clan leader and inspired a movie about her life, has died. She was 86.

La Presse news agency said Maresca died Thursday at her home in the Naples suburb of Castellammare di Stabia, the town where she was born.

Maresca was known as “Lady Camorra,” a reference to the powerful Naples-area crime syndicate that historically has been involve in drug trafficking, extortion rackets and contraband rings.

She was six months’ pregnant in 1955 when she wielded a Smith & Wesson in the vendetta slaying, part of a bloody turf war among rival crime clan bosses. She gave birth to to a son in jail and served 10 years of a 13-year sentence.

A few months earlier, Maresca’s husband, Pasquale Simonetti, had been slain in the Naples’ crime clan feuding.

While female leaders are rare in the Sicilian Mafia, women in the Camorra have played top roles. Sociologists have attributed that to a matriarchal structure prominent in Naples’ family life.

“What should I have done, let myself be killed?” Maresca asked Italian reporters in connection with the 2013 airing of a TV movie about her life on a private Italian television channel. “I was pregnant. He was coming toward me with his arm extended and the pistol in his hand,” she recounted about the slaying of Antonio Esposito, who reputedly had ordered her husband’s death.

In Italian law, masterminds of murders are held as responsible for killings as those who materially carry out the slayings.

A local beauty contest winner, Maresca was nicknamed “Pupetta,” or Little Doll.

Prosecutors accused her of ordering the 1981 murder of a mobster who belonged to the powerful breakaway Camorra fold of Raffaele Cutolo. Four years later, a court acquitted her of the charge.

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