Two Claim Insane Man as Husband in Italy, June 1928

Strange Case of Confused Identity in Italy Arouses Curiosity of Whole Nation!

The world's most puzzling case of confused identity is back on the first pages of Italian newspapers today. One of two women who claim an inmate of the Collegno asylum as their long-lost husband has succeeded in taking him home to the bosom of his family.

For the moment, therefore, "the unknown one," as the Italians designate the distinguished looking man who was found appropriating funeral wreaths at a Turin cemetery a year ago and was relegated to an asylum because he was unable to establish his identity, becomes Prof. Canella of Verona. He is hailed as such by his wife, two children, some members of the Canella family, the Bishop of Verona and the Catholic Society general.

But another woman, other children, other relatives, swear with equal fervor that this man is Marc Bruneri, their husband and father.

They tried hard to prevent him from leaving the asylum for the Canella home. Failing then, they instituted court proceedings to prove that he is really Marc Bruneri.

The case, which already has dragged through the courts for a year, will thus resume its interminable round. A fortnight ago a Turin court dismissed a charge against this man because the court was not satisfied he was Bruneri, the alleged thief. The court would not accept the evidence of the asylum that he was Canella but appointed a guardian for him who so fervently supported Signora Canella's claim that the man was turned over to her amid tearful demonstrations from her kinsmen.

The unknown one himself seems to prefer the role of Canella, the pious Catholic histologist, to that of Bruneri, a printer accused of theft and desertion.

Aside from its dramatic aspects, this case is interesting because the court disregarded finger print evidence, constituting an important judicial precedent. The unknown one's finger prints correspond exactly with those in the possession of the police as the prints of Bruneri. It is the consensus of scientific opinion that no two individuals have identical finger prints although it has been claimed in America that finger prints can be forged.

The physical measurements of the unknown also correspond with those of Bruneri. The Bruneri faction contends that he is a half-inch shorter than Prof. Canella and that the ears are different.

Signora Canella and her supporters, which include the Observatore Romano, retort that a wife knows her own husband, and that God's ways are mysterious. Signora Bruneri counters the retort that she, too, knows her husband and she proposes to go the limit to induce the courts to sustain her claim.

1. "Two Women Claim Insane Man as Husband", Finger Print and Identification Magazine, Vol. 9, No. 12, June 1928, page 7. Reprinted from Buffalo Evening News Friday, January 13, 1928.

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