Succo committed his first known murders on April 9, 1981 when he fatally stabbed his mother and his father, a police officer; they had refused to lend him their car. He then escaped, hiding his parents' bodies in the bathtub covered in water and lime to delay the discovery of the murders, and taking away his father's service pistol. After Succo was caught, he was judged mentally ill and he was sentenced to 10 years in a psychiatric prison in Reggio Emilia. While in the facility, he completed his studies and earned a degree in political science.
On May 15, 1986, after serving five years of his sentence, Succo escaped from the psychiatric hospital. He evaded police and left the country to travel to France by rail. In the next few years, Succo committed numerous crimes ranging from burglary to rape to murder; in France, he raped and killed two teenage girls, murdered a physician, and two police officers who were about to capture him.
On February 28, 1988, he was caught in his hometown of Mestre (on the Italian mainland across from Venice and within the Venetian region known as the Veneto). On March 1, 1988, during the course of an escape attempt he fell off the roof of the prison in which he was detained, having tried another attempt at an escape that only resulted in him showing off bravado to a casual audience who had gathered in front of the prison. He committed suicide in his cell on May 23, 1988.
In 1988, Bernard-Marie Koltès wrote a play (Roberto Zucco) inspired by Succo's life and crimes. At the same time, French journalist Pascale Froment was working on a non-fiction book entitled Je te tue. Histoire vraie de Roberto Succo assassin sans raison (1991) about Succo's life, and she and Koltès corresponded on the subject. Je te tue later became the basis for the film Roberto Succo, directed by Cédric Kahn. In the wake of the film, Froment's book was reissued in 2001 under the title Roberto Succo.
Kahn's movie tells the story of Succo's life without judging his actions. This neutral point of view was criticized by the French police.
- Note by Froment in Bernard-Marie Koltès, Roberto Zucco, translated by Martin Crimp, Methuen 1991
- Cédric Kahn: Inside the mind of a killer - Features, Film & TV - The Independent
- Roberto Succo Biography, from Affaires Criminelles. URL accessed January 5, 2006.