‘The Last Hours Of Mario Biondo’ Explained: What Happened To Raquel Silva?


Adding to its ever-expanding list of true-crime documentaries, Netflix has come up with a sensational story from Spain this time, in The Last Hours of Mario Biondo, which is a three-episode-long documentary miniseries. The show focuses on the aftermath of the death of Italian cameraman Mario Biondo and a tussle between his parents and his wife, Spanish TV presenter Raquel Silva. We believe that this documentary stands out from other similar crime documentaries in the way its narrative is presented. Surely there is room to look at the work as something else, but to me personally, it felt much more about the denial-driven persecution against one individual than any mysterious crime thriller. Through the series, its makers genuinely seem to raise the question of who is to be blamed, even though an ambiguity is maintained till the end with regards to the actual crime.

What Had Happened To Mario?

Born into a middle-class Italian family in Palermo, Mario Biondo grew up to become a professional cameraman, a job that took him to many places across the world. After beginning with shooting interviews and making an identity in the industry, Mario was recruited to shoot the reality TV show “Survivor” in Nicaragua. It was during this time that he first met Raquel Sanchez Silva, an up-and-coming TV presenter from Spain. Also hailing from an upper-middle-class family, Raquel worked her way into the industry and was also becoming a popular face when she was recruited to host the same “Survivor” show. Both extremely attractive individuals with all the attributes of conventional beauty standards, Mario and Raquel developed chemistry and soon started to date. Although Mario was almost ten years younger than Raquel, the age difference never really bothered anyone.

After the shoot in Nicaragua was over, Mario decided to go to Madrid and move in with Raquel, further strengthening their relationship. During this time, he also took her to his family home and introduced her to his family members. Everyone was fairly convinced that the couple was genuinely in love, and although Mario’s parents initially questioned his decision to marry Raquel only after a year of staying together, they wanted only the best for him and so supported their son. An exquisite marriage ceremony took place in Spain, one that was largely covered by tabloids and magazines, owing to Raquel already having become a popular figure by now. Mario, too, apparently, enjoyed this popularity, which made the couple feel like celebrities, but there was reportedly trouble in paradise.

In 2013, Raquel wanted to have kids with her husband and wanted him to stop taking cocaine, which the cameraman was believed to be regularly using. The couple had an argument over this issue on the 29th of May before Raquel left their apartment in Madrid and traveled to Plasencia in order to be with her uncle, who was due for a medical operation the next day. There were a few phone calls made between the two throughout the evening, and one last call was made by Mario early in the morning when Raquel’s phone was switched off. On the following day, the 30th, neither Raquel nor Mario’s colleagues could reach the man over the phone, which led to the apartment housekeeper being sent over. It was the housekeeper who then found Mario Biondo dead in his apartment, hanging from a rod with a shawl tightly wound around his neck.

What Did The Investigation By The Spanish Authorities Reveal?

Because of Raquel’s popularity in the media, Mario’s death received immediate attention from the press and the authorities. A detailed investigation was conducted by the Madrid police, and a preliminary idea about what had happened during the final hours of Mario Biondo’s life was presented. The docuseries, in fact, begins with the restaging of this very chain of events, as Mario Biondo was believed to have been severely disturbed following his argument with Raquel. While the couple wanted to have a child together, Mario was in the habit of using cocaine, and this addiction was possibly growing in him. Raquel believed, quite rightly, that her husband’s cocaine addiction was directly leading to his slow sperm condition, and it was because of this that she had the fight with him on the 29th. On the night of his death, Mario had searched the internet for numerous things on his laptop, among which was the connection between infertility and cocaine usage. Despite finding out that the two are indeed very directly linked, the man made a call to a drug dealer before leaving the house.

Mario then accessed the ATM, with the police believing that this was in order to buy the drugs. Following this, he returned home and was seen by his neighbor, who noticed that Mario was in an unusually serious mood. The man then left home later into the night once more, this time going over to a nearby brothel and paying for three drinks through the night. At around three, he returned home again, following which it is not clear what the man had been up to. The police investigation finally stated that Mario had died from suicide after he strangled himself with much more strength than he had intended. Since nothing unusual or remarkable came up in his psychological evaluation, it was theorized that Mario had unintentionally strangled himself to death, possibly because he was high on cocaine at the time. The body was also apparently found with cocaine around the nostrils. All examinations, preliminary and then during the autopsy, found that there had been no use of force or any sign of struggle from the victim. The case was considered solved, and Madrid police closed its files as a case of unintentional suicide.

What Does The Biondo Family Keep Claiming?

Mario’s family, especially his parents, Santina and Pippo, were obviously shocked and horrified to know that their son had passed away so suddenly and mysteriously. Together with their two children, Mario’s siblings, Emanuela and Andrea, they went over to Madrid and attended their son’s funeral, together with Raquel, who was equally shocked and grieving. However, certain matters did seem odd to the Biondos, or at least outright disrespectful, especially when the Spanish authorities had not even waited for them to pay their last farewell to Mario and had started the autopsy on his body even before they arrived in the country. Then their anger was directed towards the daughter-in-law, Raquel, and there were initially a number of fair reasons for this as well. Only two days after attending Mario’s funeral, Raquel Silva went over to Formentera for a vacation at the beach, a trip that she had originally planned with Mario. The TV presenter’s closest friends then joined in, and Raquel even uploaded photographs of the same on her social media. These photos, especially the fact that Raquel was smiling in them, irked the Biondos massively.

The narrative, as reported by The Last Hours of Mario Biondo, suggests that Santina Biondo was already determined to find some link between her son’s death and Raquel even before this incident, but following the presenter’s trip to Formentera, this determination grew even stronger. Another statement by Raquel, that Mario could have been involved in some self-pleasure that included asphyxiation, also tremendously upset the parents. Since then, the Biondo family members have been steadily claiming that Mario had actually been murdered and that Raquel Silva was directly linked with it. Their claim, over the years, has been that Mario had found out about either an extramarital relationship that his wife was having or a pornographic video on the internet that had a masked Raquel in it. The family claims that their son had possibly spoken out against this, and Raquel had then simply gotten him killed.

Over the ten years that this case has been stretched, much more than it ever needed to be, the Biondos have tried numerous different means and ways to find out what they believe to be the real truth. After the Madrid police closed the case, the family hired a private investigator in Spain to conduct a thorough examination of the case. Unlike what they wanted, this detective, too, concluded his research, saying that he was convinced that Mario had indeed committed suicide. The family, still looking for answers, then made requests to the Italian authorities to investigate the death of their son, who was an Italian national, and soon another major investigation was started. Mario’s body was exhumed, and the second autopsy was to be conducted by a famous and highly regarded expert in Italy, Paolo Procaccianti.

Meanwhile, Santina and Pippo started appearing on Italian media, talking about their case and keeping it in conversation. After initially blaming the Spanish media for intentionally avoiding their case, they eventually got invites from Spanish infotainment shows as well. As one of the experts in the docuseries comments, the Biondos realized that keeping their son’s case in the public eye would enormously help in getting justice for him, and the parents did not leave any stone unturned. Finally, when the autopsy results were out, the Italian authorities also closed the case, stating that Mario had most possibly died of suicide. After earlier blaming the Spanish authorities for a great conspiracy, the helpless, desperate parents now call Procaccianti biased, even filing lawsuits against these figures. Needless to say, all these lawsuits were ruled against the Biondos.

The family then hired a different examiner as well, who still claims that he firmly believes that Mario was indeed murdered, based on how the man’s body was found. Crucially, though, this expert has never seen or examined Mario’s body firsthand, and all his conclusions are drawn based on photographs. The Biondos even fell prey to an American group of scammers called Emme, who claimed in 2021 that they had proof that two other men were also present in Mario’s apartment during his death. However, the Emme group was ultimately found to be a group of fraudsters who only joined the sensational news to earn a name and following for themselves. It was only in 2022 that an Italian court gave one of the most vague verdicts in the case, with the judge stating that he could not completely rule out the possibility of Mario having been murdered, although there was no way to prove this. While the Biondo family has to rejoice with this little half-victory, the Italian authorities have firmly shut down the case as well, meaning that even if the family can indeed come up with more evidence, it will not be of any use.

What Ultimately Happened To Raquel Sanchez Silva?

Throughout the span of ten years following Mario Biondo’s death, there have been 16 Spanish judges, 5 Italian prosecutors, 2 Italian judges, 13 authorized experts, 2 exhumations, and 3 autopsies involved in the case. Despite the sheer amount of investigation involved, there have been no convictions whatsoever, and each and every one of the investigators has concluded that the man died of suicide. The Biondo family is very understandably still grieving the death of their close one, and The Last Hours of Mario Biondo successfully brings out their side too. Shocked by the sudden loss of their young son, Santina and Pippo still have a difficult time accepting his death for what it actually was. But there is a limit beyond which doubt and grief ultimately start to hurt, to the extent that one loses themselves in their emotions. This is what seems to have happened with Santina and the rest of her family. Shock and grief have led to denial, and denial has led to delusion, as they continue to believe that their daughter-in-law single-handedly destroyed their son’s life. While on one side, experts state that Mario’s death was suicide, on the other side is Emanuela, who is convinced that there is an international conspiracy going on against her family to hide her brother’s death. It is easy to see that the siblings, too, have lost their own lives, as Andrea reveals how his mother had told him to threaten Raquel’s agent and how she has now told him not to speak to the Netflix crew about the Emme Group scandal. It is undoubtedly heartbreaking to see the effect of Mario’s death on his family to this day.

But perhaps it is even more painful to analyze and understand Raquel Sanchez Silva’s position in this entire fiasco, as she has repeatedly faced harassment, bullying, and slander over a period of ten years. It is possible that Raquel’s marriage with Mario was falling apart and that he was genuinely not happy with her for whatever reason, but she should not be held responsible for taking a life, as proven by the numerous investigations by various authorities. As an Indian, it is perhaps impossible not to be reminded of the case of Rhea Chakraborty in 2020, when the actress and model was hounded by the media, authorities, and family members of Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput after he committed suicide. Although there are obviously nuances and details different in the two cases, there are plenty of similarities as well. Just like Rajput’s family members refused to believe that their son could have been taking drugs, that he was depressed, and that he could commit suicide, the Biondos also refused to believe that Mario had a cocaine addiction or that he was unhappy enough to take his own life. Despite India and Italy having starkly different socio-politics, both Rajput and Mario Biondo were painted as innocent outsiders taken advantage of by richer individuals because of their middle-class families. In both cases, the girlfriend and wife became the easiest targets, whose names were dragged through filth and dirt before both were found not guilty or involved in what was being claimed.

Ever since the Biondos started expressing their claims and concerns about their son’s death, Raquel has remained silent about the issue, and whenever asked by the media, she has claimed that it is still a matter of much personal grief to her. While there were claims that Raquel did not properly grieve the death of her husband, that still fails to tie her to Mario’s suicide, irrespective of the fact that not everyone grieves in the same manner. Raquel never stopped her work, even through all this slander, and she has continued to grow into a popular presenter. At present, Raquel Sanchez Silva continues her professional career as a Spanish TV presenter.

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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