Relief as missing dog returned to murdered boy's father
Updated - A dog belonging to a man whose son was murdered and placed in an industrial oven was found in Xemxija today.
The dog had disappeared on Tuesday, causing heartache to Nicola Romano who had described Rocky as “a symbol" of his son Gaetano”.
Friends of Mr Romano found it in Xemxija and immmediately phone him.
“If my wounds had healed one per cent since my son was killed, they have now been slashed open 110,” he said in comments before the dog was traced.
Gaetano was murdered a year and 10 months ago and his father said he had not found any peace of mind and was “dying inside”.
The latest loss had left the 69-year- old crying “from morning to night” as the brown labrador, also known – and treated – as Principino (little prince), “represented” his son and was his life and heart.
“Now, even that has been taken away from me,” the Sicilian cried. “You can imagine but you could never understand what it means to lose a son,” he said, recounting down to the slightest detail the run-up to his macabre discovery.
Sitting in a cloud of cigarette smoke and choking back the tears in his Buġibba gypsum shop, just above the garage in Damascus Street where he found his dead son on April 2, 2009, a day after his 20th birthday, Mr Romano gave a blow-by-blow account of that fateful day.
He was abroad when his son stopped answering his calls and, four days later, when he returned from a holiday he never wanted to go on but was convinced to by Gaetano, he found his badly burnt body in their own workshop furnace.
“I kissed him right there before I left,” he said, pointing to a spot in his Cinque Stelle shop.
The problem is also that, almost two years later, the police have not managed to home in on the perpetrators of the heinous crime and Mr Romano said he remained in the dark as to who took away the only son he had had with his deceased Maltese wife.
“I am so disappointed because I am Gaetano’s father and, if there is any news, I should be informed so that I could be more tranquil,” he said.
“I have been killed three times,” Mr Romano cried. “First, when my son was murdered; then because of the lack of justice – I still don’t and never will know anything about his death; and now that Rocky has disappeared.”
It is not the first time Mr Romano, who has been in Malta for 32 years, has had to face the loss of a pet. His other dog, also Rocky, was found dead and bound with tape in a suitcase in a nearby shell building some months before his son was murdered.
Back then, it was said the dog was found rolled in a carpet in a nearby field and the family had even received photos of their dead pet. “First the dog; then Gaetano. Now who’s next,” a cut-up Mr Romano had asked.
The two-year-old labrador that went missing was just a puppy when Gaetano was still around. He grew to be a “symbol” of the boy and another son t o Mr Romano.
Rocky still used to wait behind the door for his owner to arrive. He would sniff around his bedroom and once got “overly excited” when he saw a photo of Gaetano, the broken father said.
“I used to say I had two maschiacci (males). Then my son died and all I had was Rocky,” he said, passionately appealing to whoever took him to bring him back.
“There will not be any consequences,” he insisted in his appeal.
The dog was last seen outside the Bank of Valletta branch in Buġibba on Tuesday morning, Mr Romano said. That day, he had come for his usual caresses and his owner had cleaned his eyes outside his garage.
Then Rocky – “the best dog in the world” – took off for what would normally have been a 10-minute walk. But, this time, he never returned. Mr Romano said he received a call from the police 30 minutes later, informing him the dog was outside the bank but, by the time he got there, Rocky was gone.
“Rocky only eats meat,” he said, pointing at a photograph of him hugging the dog on his birthday, for which he had a cassatina for a cake.
Mr Romano may have strong suspicions about who killed his son but he claims his dog, which was chipped and had a metal tag with his number, was not nabbed by anyone who wanted to harm him personally. He does not know what to think when asked whether his son’s killers would ever be found. “I have reached a point where I do not have faith in anyone, not even myself. I do not trust anything,” he said.