Italian cop married his wife just over a month ago before being stabbed to death by American teens
Hundreds of people turned out to honor an Italian police officer believed to have been stabbed to death by two American teenagers in Rome.
The body of Deputy Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega, a member of the famed Italian Carabinieri paramilitary police force, was brought to a chapel in central Rome to lie in state on Sunday.
The slain officer's new wife, Rosa Maria, wept and placed her hands on his coffin as it was carried inside.
On Monday, a funeral will be held at the same chapel where she married Cerciello Rega on June 19 in his hometown of Somma Vesuviana.
Forty-three days later, Rosa Maria will return to the church a widow.
Somma Vesuviana Mayor Salvatore Di Sarno has proclaimed Monday to be a 'day of mourning' for the city near Naples.
Cerciello Rega, 35, had just returned to duty after his honeymoon in Madagascar when he was stabbed eight times and left bleeding in the street near Rome's Tiber River at around 3am Friday morning.
Photos of the officer, wearing his uniform for his wedding and showing off his wedding band as he sat next to his beaming bride, dominated the front pages of many Italian newspapers Saturday.
Flowers, keepsakes and condolence letters have accumulated at a makeshift memorial outside the Carabinieri headquarters. Station commander Sandro Ottaviani told reporters Cerciello Rega was a beloved member of the force who 'always thought about his neighbors, both during the service shifts and when he didn't wear the uniform'.
'He used to make pilgrimages to Lourdes and Loreto to help the suffering people every week,' Ottaviani said, referring to two major Catholic pilgrimage sites. 'Without telling anyone, he volunteered. Not only does a brave Carabinieri die, but a great man.'
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called his death a 'deep wound for the State' and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini praised the officer as a 'hero'.
Cerciello Rega, who had just returned to duty from his honeymoon to Madagascar, responded with his partner to a call about 3 a.m. on Friday that turned fatal.
Elder and Natale-Hjorth, both graduates of Tamalpais High School in the San Francisco suburb of Mill Valley, were allegedly trying to buy drugs before the slaying, but were sold a fake substance, a police spokesman told ABC News.
They then allegedly robbed a man of his backpack, police said. The robbery victim is not believed to be the man who allegedly sold the American tourists the fake drugs, but it remained unclear on Sunday whether he is connected to the drug dealer, officials said.
Elder and Natale-Hjorth allegedly demanded that the man pay them "100 euros and 1 gram of cocaine" to get his backpack returned, a police spokesman said. The man agreed, but he also reported the alleged extortion attempt to police, according to the police spokesman.
Cerciello Rega and his partner, both in plainclothes, responded to the complaint and confronted the suspects, police said. A scuffle broke out and Cerciello Rega was stabbed eight times, allegedly by Elder while Natale-Hjorth allegedly punched Rega's partner repeatedly, according to police reports made public on Saturday.