The following murder we are about to witness shows the brutal death of a young ten-year-old boy who lived in the village of Żabbar. Joseph Deguara was assassinated on the 12th of April 1908 by his cousin Francis. Like the biblical story of Cain and Abel, this account shows that jealousy makes humans act in irrational ways.
Joseph was a very obedient and innocent child. He never complained when he was asked to do something for his uncle, whom he used to help around the farm. His doting parents loved him very dearly. One day, after having finished from his duties as an altar boy, he quickly rushed home to have some breakfast, and went to meet his cousin Francis as he had told him, he had a surprise in store for him.
Before he left the house, he asked his mother to bless him and made the terrible mistake of not informing her where he was off to. That was the last time that she heard his voice as Joseph was never to be seen alive again!
Joseph’s uncle John, loved him to bits and he looked forward to the days Joseph would visit his farm to help with the animals. However, not everyone was of the same opinion as John…
Francis Farrugia who was Joseph’s cousin was in his teens, and could visibly notice that their uncle preferred Joseph. Uncle John loved Joseph so much, that he left him as his heir in his will. Francis was not at all happy with the situation, so he made a plan to kill Joseph.
One day, he promised Joseph that he would show him something that he had never seen before – a dark cave amidst the wilderness. He walked into the cave while Joseph followed. As soon as he found an ideal spot, he cornered Joseph and beat him as much as he could. Since Joseph was still a young boy, he was severely bruised and bled heavily during the night. Francis, on having arrived home, decided that the following morning, he would go and check on his cousin to see whether he had died or not. Although Joseph was still alive, he was very weak and was breathing his last breaths. He begged Francis to take him home to his mother as he was in pain, and felt very cold. On having seen this, Francis felt no pity towards his cousin, and started to jump on his rib cage, until the poor young boy died on the spot!
Joseph’s parents had by now informed the police that their son was missing. They sought far and wide for their boy, however neither the police, nor they themselves could find a trace of the boy. The Maltese locals had heard of the absence of this young boy, and some of them claimed that he was seen in certain villages and there were others who said that he had been also seen in Egypt.
With the passing of time, Joseph’s father died with grief, and his mother was sent into an asylum for mentally ill people, as she had been imagining both the presence of her husband and her beloved son, who till now had still not been found.
When the police got to know the whereabouts of Joseph’s lifeless body, it was already reduced to bones. It was Francis himself who went to the magistrate and related the whole events of the assassination. As soon as the police saw Joseph’s bones scattered in the dark cave, they had realized that the poor boy’s body had been eaten by rats!
Francis was sent to a mental institution and only came out in a coffin in 1980. This story truly shows that the sins we commit in our lives, are never buried under the earth, as in some way or another, they emerge in broad daylight.