Man found dead in oven
A young man was found dead by his father in an industrial oven in a macabre incident that the police are treating as the first murder of the year.
Gaetano Romano was discovered by his father Nicola in a Buġibba garage on Thursday night, a day after his 20th birthday.
The grim find came after Nicola, who was abroad, had made several failed attempts to contact his son.
According to neighbours, Mr Romano, an Italian who has lived in Malta for several years, flew back because he got worried that his son was not answering the phone.
When he did not find Gaetano at home, he forced open the door to his garage in Damascus Street, which is used as a workshop, and discovered the badly charred body of his son in the furnace at about 9 p.m.
The police confirmed that a lifeless body had been found in an industrial oven and that it was extensively burnt. However, the autopsy held yesterday was inconclusive as to the cause of death. Reports that six nails were shot into the young man's head could not be confirmed.
Neighbours said they saw Gaetano's father crying and banging on a low wall near the garage on Thursday night. The Romano family lives just round the corner, a few doors away from the garage used as a gypsum shop, the Cinque Stelle.
Gaetano Romano worked in his father's gypsum business, which was at the centre of a controversy last February when several residents complained he was operating an illegal furnace, which they feared could explode at any moment.
A lawyer representing the residents said the concerns grew particularly after an explosion last May rocked buildings and even cracked walls.
A small group of shocked neighbours living up the road, who gathered outside the Romanos' home yesterday, said they were unaware of any disputes.
One of them said she last saw the victim earlier this week, when he was on his way to buy groceries from a nearby store: "I have been living here for 19 years and remember Gaetano growing up. This is a big tragedy."
Another neighbour recounted how the young man's mother, Doris, had asked her to keep an eye on the boy before she died some 10 years ago.
The mother succumbed to cancer at the age of 45, when her son was preparing for his confirmation.
Mr Romano has since remarried and has two daughters with his new wife - five-year-old Maria and a baby.
The family's dog, Rocky, was vindictively killed eight months ago and found rolled in a carpet in a nearby field. A neighbour said the family had even received photos of the dead dog.
"Gaetano cried as if a child had been killed," one of the neighbours said. She said the family had scoured the area in search of Rocky and were devastated when they found him dead.
Behind a low gate to the Romano household, another dog, also named Rocky, sat quietly, putting his muzzle through the aluminium bars, as loud dance music drifted from an apartment above.
A magisterial inquiry was launched.