Cold cases,  Crimes,  USA

Ylenia Carrisi And The Shattered American Dream

Ylenia Carrisi and the shattered American dream. The Italian girl disappeared in New Orleans

Ylenia Carrisi was a 23-year-old Italian woman who disappeared in New Orleans on January 6, 1994, a week after arriving in the city. For almost thirty years, the Italian and American authorities have been at a dead end. A runaway, a bad date, the intervention of a serial killer – the hypotheses are numerous.

Ylenia Carrisi, a talented young woman

Ylenia Carrisi disappeared on January 6, 1994, in New Orleans

Born in Rome on November 29, 1970, Ylenia Carrisi is not just anyone. She is the daughter of the famous Italian singing couple Al Bano and Romina Power. They are the performers of the worldwide hit Felicità, which made the world dance in 1982. As a child, Ylenia chose to remain in the shadows and, unlike her parents, had no great interest in show business or music. Yet Ylenia Carrisi was a talented artist. She had studied dancing and singing, and had even released an album in 1990 entitled “Ylenia”. She also starred in the 1985 Italian film “Libera, amore mio!

In addition to her artistic talent, which was fostered by her family background, Ylenia had strong convictions. Ylenia Carrisi was a committed young woman. She had taken part in humanitarian actions in Africa and created an association to help sick children. She was passionate about spirituality and travel. In particular, she had traveled to India and Egypt to discover new cultures and practice meditation.

Al Bano and Romina Power were very close to their daughter Ylenia Carrisi

Ylenia was very close to her family, especially her mother Romina Power. The two women had a close relationship and shared many moments of complicity. Independent and free, she had decided to move alone to the United States to pursue her studies and artistic career, with a predilection for writing, after studying literature at the famous King’s College London, where she had distinguished herself with excellent grades. This choice was no accident. Her maternal grandparents were the American actor Tyrone Power and the Mexican actress Linda Christian. So Ylenia had heartfelt ties with Uncle Sam.

Ylenia’s final weeks

As her London studies drew to a close, Ylenia began to nurture a personal project before continuing her studies in the USA. She wanted to travel far from Europe with a simple backpack and keep a diary of her wanderings. A diary destined to become a book in her wildest hopes. After selling as many things as she could in Rome to finance her trip, Ylenia set her sights on South America.

Ylenia Carrisi stayed a few weeks in Hopkins, Belize

After criss-crossing part of the Latin continent, Ylenia Carrisi decided to settle in Belize, in the village of Hopkins, where she particularly appreciated the welcome and kindness of the locals.In the very last days of 1993, Ylenia decided to head for New Orleans for the festive season, a destination as mythical as it was mystical for the young Italian. Her brother Yari, determined to surprise her for Christmas, just missed her when he arrived in Hopkins on December 27.

Ylenia was already familiar with the Louisiana megalopolis, where she had spent some time during a previous summer, spending much of her time among the street musicians and homeless of the famous French Quarter, reporting her encounters and exchanges in a newspaper. At the end of December 1993, Ylenia chose a modest hotel. On December 31, Romina Power received a final call from her daughter, who was reported missing on January 6, 1994.

A strange traveling companion

Ylenia Carrisi was the daughter of Al Bano and Romina Power

Al Bano, whose real name was Albano Carrisi, and Romina Power rushed to New Orleans. Her personal belongings – backpack, passport, clothes, diary – were still at the hotel, and the young woman had been seen leaving around 11 a.m. on January 6. However, Ylenia’s parents discovered that an African-American man with a gray beard had tried to use the young woman’s traveler’s checks.

Ylenia Carrisi shared a room with Alexander Masakela

The man’s identity was quickly established: he was Alexander Masakela, a Jamaican street musician thirty years older than Ylenia, with whom he shared the room. It seems that the Italian considered Masakela, nicknamed Pops, to be stimulating her intellect and that she saw him as a guru. Masakela was questioned by the police. During questioning, he stated that he and Ylenia did indeed share a room, but that they each had their own bed, and that no sexual relations had marred their friendship. To date, Alexander Masakela has never been questioned by either American or Italian investigators, as the evidence is non-existent.

The Mississippi Woman

Ylenia Carrisi spent a lot of time with the New Orleans street musicians

A few days later, Albert Cordova, a janitor at Woldenberg Park, contacted the authorities. He stated that, on the evening of January 6, 1994, he had encountered a strange young woman strongly resembling Ylenia Carrisi sitting on the Mississippi River dock. He added that, when he asked the woman to leave, she replied “I belong in the water anyway” before diving into the river and starting to swim vigorously. Cordova then shouted to the young woman to get back to shore. The latter continued to swim towards the middle of the river, some 100 metres from the shore.

Pressed with questions by the investigators, Cordova added that, at that moment, a barge came along and caused a strong eddy which put the swimmer in difficulty, and she screamed for help before disappearing into the waves. A photo of Ylenia Carrisi was shown to the guard, who was unable to confirm that the woman in the park was the young Italian. The coastguard was dispatched to survey 90 square miles of the river, to no avail.

Few leads, many unanswered questions

The Italian authorities assisted the American investigators in the years that followed. Unfortunately, investigations on both sides of the Atlantic came to nothing, and Ylenia Carrisi was declared dead by the Italian authorities in January 2013, at Albano Carrisi’s request. Although initially convinced that their daughter was being held captive, Albano Carrisi and Romina Power now have differing opinions regarding their daughter’s disappearance.

Romina Power believes her daughter, Ylenia Carrisi, is alive

Ylenia’s father has convinced himself that the woman in Woldenberg Park is his daughter. Romina Power, for her part, is convinced that Ylenia is alive and that she has changed her life after consulting several mediums. This painful affair took its toll on the couple, who separated in 1999. Romina Power left Italy and settled in Arizona.

One of the strongest leads in this case is that of drugs, as Ylenia’s father suggested that at the time of his disappearance, his daughter might have taken drugs. In fact, Alexander Masakela had a criminal record involving the sale and consumption of illegal substances, as well as sexual assaults. In 2011, an Italian victim confessed on television that she had been under Masakela’s influence, describing him as a disturbing guru. The woman added that she could have been drugged without her knowledge.

eith Hunter Jesperson said he killed Ylenia Carrisi

In 2015, serial killer Keith Hunter Jesperson, also known as the “Happy Face Killer”, claimed that Ylenia was one of his victims after recognizing her in a photo. However, Florida authorities requested a DNA test on the remains that Jesperson claimed belonged to Ylenia and, after receiving a sample, they determined that the remains did not belong to Ylenia.

In the United States, the investigation remains open and Ylenia Carrisi is still listed as a missing person in the US central database.

More information on the case

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