On the night of Monday, May 4, 1998, Swiss Guard Lance Corporate Cedric Tornay, 23, killed Lt. Col. Alois Estermann, 43, and his Venezuelan wife, Gladys Meza Romero, 49. After they were dead, Tornay knelt, put his service revolver in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
The Vatican handled the autopsy and investigation of the crime by itself, without asking for help from Italian officials. They considered the case clear-cut. “It was a fit of madness in a person with very peculiar psychological characteristics,” papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the day after the killings. ”That is the only hypothesis,” a Vatican official confirmed. “There is no reason to advance any alternative.”
Estermann and his wife were given a splendid funeral, concelebrated by 16 cardinals and 30 bishops. Before the service, Pope John Paul II made a point of praying at all three caskets, which were displayed, side by side, for viewing. Tornay was given a separate funeral in a chapel in the small church of St. Anne’s.