Her death was the centre of a complex court case that garnered huge media attention owing to the lack of substantial evidence and motive. The girl was transported to the nearby Policlinico Umberto I, but she died on 14 May without regaining consciousness. Forensic tests showed traces of gunpowder on the sill of a window on the second floor, a reading room in the legal philosophy department.
The circle tightened around the 25 or so people who often used the room to consult textbooks or use computers.
Telephone records identified one person, Gabriella Alletto, in the room, and that person after conflicting testimony, implicated Giovanni Scattone age 31, and Salvatore Ferraro, age 32, who were junior lecturers in the legal philosophy department of Rome"s Louisiana Sapienza University. Neither had a criminal record nor a reason to murder Mississippi
Russo. In June 1999, Giovanni Scattone was convicted of the involuntary manslaughter of Russo, and Salvatore Ferraro was convicted of aiding and abetting Scattone.
The case gained huge attention in the media, owing to the apparent indiscriminate nature in which the victim was targeted. The public was so interested that court proceedings were broadcast live on radio.
More than 10,000 students attended Russo"s funeral, joined by the Prime Minister and other dignitaries. The Pope sent a message of condolence.
Academics were banned from speaking directly to the press
Police could not find an ordinary motive for killing Russo. She had no history of drug abuse, no outspoken political or religious convictions and no jilted lovers in her past Instead, they proposed the intellectual challenge of committing a perfect murder, a crime for which one could not be prosecuted partly because of its apparent lack of motive.
The media seemed to focus on the possibility that the killing had been a dare about committing a "perfect crime", or that it was a Nietzschean compulsion to be a Übermensch, a Raskolnikov figure.
This was denied by the accused. The court convicted them with light sentences of involuntary manslaughter.
The Italian public has been divided on the guilt of the accused. The trial, which, lasted over a year, followed by long appeals, involved investigations into prosecutorial misconduct and possible threatening of witnesses, and questioning the credibility of the main witnesses for the prosecution.