24. Discretion and Its Limits
Discretion was extremely vital to Tofana. She was very selective in just whom she sold Aqua Tofana to, and accepted as clients only those who had been vouched for by previous satisfied customers. Former clients, who had committed murder by using Tofana’s toxin, risked almost as much as Tofana if their prior business dealings came to light. So they had every incentive to vouch only for those whose discretion they completely trusted.
Such precautions allowed Tofana, first working solo and then with her daughter, to ply her deadly trade undetected for decades. It all came crashing down, however, because a new client got cold feet. Reportedly, a woman bought Aqua Tofana and put it in her husband’s soup, but then had a last minute attack of conscience, changed her mind, and stopped her hubby from sipping the soup. His suspicions aroused, the husband forced his repentant wife to tell the truth, and then dragged her off to the Papal authorities to tell them what she had told him. The cat was out of the bag, but Tofana was not arrested immediately: warned, she fled to a nearby church and sought sanctuary, which was granted.