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article imageTragedy in Edinburgh - three tragic deaths and a bitter divorce

By Gemma Fox     Aug 8, 2010 in Crime
Edinburgh - On Wednesday 4th of August emergency services in Edinburgh responded to the reports of a gas explosion in the Slateford Road area of the city. Rather than finding a crumbled building and fire, they found something far more chilling and horrific.
While early reports indicated that there had been a gas explosion it became clear that some kind of tragedy had occurred when news updates announced that there had been three fatalities in the incident and that they were three children of primary school age. There was also an injured woman who had apparently fallen from a height and was found lying on the ground outside the property concerned.
At 1745, that evening Lothian and Borders police sent out a press release which read:
Lothian and Borders Police can confirm there have been three fatalities in a suspected gas explosion in Edinburgh today (Wednesday, August 4).
Police can confirm three primary school children - two boys and a girl - have died in the incident.
In addition, an adult woman was taken by ambulance to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Emergency services were called to an address in the city's Slateford Road around 3pm following the reports of a suspected gas explosion and a fire.
A fire in the first floor of the three storey modern town house was extinguished by Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service and the property made safe. Gas supply at the scene was isolated a precaution.
Other properties in the vicinity have been unaffected by the incident.
The investigation into the cause of this tragedy is in its early stages.
Emergency services remained at the scene and it soon became clear that all was not as it seemed. Local rumours suggested that there the children’s deaths were suspicious and that if there had been a gas explosion it wasn’t from any kind of fault in the supply as gas engineers had found no fault in the supply.
At 1950 the same evening a police press release confirmed the fears and the rumours of friends and neighbours. The children’s deaths were suspicious and police had reason to commence a criminal investigation.
Lothian and Borders Police can confirm that the deaths of three primary school aged children in an incident in Slateford Road, Edinburgh today (Wednesday, August 4, 2010) are being treated as suspicious.
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "A criminal investigation is currently underway and nothing more can be said at this time into the circumstances which led to their deaths."
No details as to the identity of the children will be issued until after post mortems have been carried out.
An adult woman, who was found injured on the ground outside the property, remains in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Emergency services responded around 3pm to an initial report of a gas explosion at the residential property in Slateford Road. Although the gas supply was isolated however it has since transpired there was no fault with the gas supply to the modern three storey townhouse.
Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue Service extinguished a small fire in the first floor of the house.
The following day details began to emerge about the family involved. Although Lothian and Borders police said that they would not identify the three children until their post mortems had been carried out later in the day newspapers identified the children as eight year old twins Augustino (known as Austin) Riggi and Gianluca (known as Luke) Riggi and their five-year old sister Cecilia Riggi. Many news outlets reported that the children had been stabbed to death in the house.
Augustino Riggi (Austin) aged 8
Augustino Riggi (Austin) aged 8
Media at LBP
Gianluca (Luke/Luca) Riggi aged 8
Gianluca (Luke/Luca) Riggi aged 8
Media at LBP
Cecilia Riggi aged 5
Cecilia Riggi aged 5
Media at LBP
The woman taken to hospital was their 46-year old mother Theresa Riggi and on Thursday morning anxious detectives investigating the murders of the three children were waiting for doctors at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary to tell them when they'd be able to talk to Mrs Riggi, who had been receiving treatment for injuries sustained in her fall from a balcony at the address in Slateford Road.
On Thursday morning Detective Supt Allan Jones said, "We are not in a position to speak to the woman yet and we will take advice from her doctors as to when that can happen. We would like to do that to get a true background to the events of yesterday and find out exactly what happened within the house."
Further details began to emerge. Theresa and her husband Pasquale were going through a bitter divorce. Theresa had already gone missing with the children in July and they were eventually traced to the address in Slateford Road in Edinburgh.
Mrs Riggi, originally from California and Mr Riggi, from Colorado, married in 1989. They had moved to the Aberdeenshire area of Scotland several years ago because of Mr Riggi's job with the Shell company. It's thought their relationship had begun to deteriorate several years ago, leading now to a bitter divorce.
On Friday 6th of August, after the post mortems of the three children, they were formally identified by Lothian and Borders police who announced that a report had been sent to the Procurator Fiscal. Their cause of death has not, as yet, been revealed.
On the same day their mother, Theresa, was charged with their murders. She remains in hospital in a stable condition but it's not yet been confirmed when she will be fit enough to make her initial court appearance.
The children's devastated father, Pasquale Riggi, is currently assisting police with their enquiries and on Friday this short statement was released on his behalf:
"Our family is struggling to come to terms with the immense and tragic loss of three beautiful children.
'Thanks to all who have offered such great comfort and support.
'We request that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time."
In another tragic twist it was revealed that the day before the tragedy occurred Mrs Riggi had been due to appear in the Court of Session.
BBC News reports:
The judge Lady Clark issued an order for the family to be found and assessed by social workers.
However, a fax from the court to the council was not sent until the following day and it arrived minutes after the first 999 call.
A court official was also sent to find the family. He arrived too late to discover a police cordon around the flat.
More about Riggi, Edinburgh, Slateford, Lothian borders
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