ROME: Police are investigating whether the killing of four members of a family from southern Italy was carried out by a relative who believed he had done a deal with the devil.
The family members were buried on Friday. The chief suspect in the quadruple homicide is Claudio Tomaino, 28, the nephew of the slain family's father.
Nine bullets were fired in all, most to the victims' heads. The youngest victim was the 18-year-old daughter, Maria, who sang in the local church choir.
Police are investigating a Satanic oath which Tomaino was said to have written before the killings
"Tomaino wrote that he had a deal with Satan to sell him his soul if Satan assured him he would make him rich and make sure he wasn't sent to jail for killing his uncle Camillo and the rest of the family," Salvatore Curcio, lead prosecutor in the southern city of Catanzaro, told a news conference.
Curcio added forensic tests had proved the "contract" was signed by Tomaino in his own blood.
Police had initially suspected organised crime was behind the family killing. Tomaino has said he is not guilty. A judge has ordered a psychological examination.
The case has shocked Italy and rekindled fears of a devil cults following the recent high-profile trials of cult members linked to the "Beasts of Satan" rock band. They killed their own singer and two other women in ritual sacrifices.
The Vatican began a course last year for Catholic priests on Satanism and exorcism in response to what the Church said was a worrying interest in the occult, particularly among the young.