Police were on Thursday hunting the killer of a 53-year-old doctor who was stabbed in the throat near Teramo in the central Abruzzo region and died of her injuries at the scene.
Fifty-three-year-old oncologist Ester Pasqualoni was attacked late on Wednesday in the car park of the Sant'Omero day hospital, near Teramo, where she was head of its cancer department.
Police said they had seized a white Peugeot 206 car in the coastal town of Martinsicuro in the province of Teramo. Police found bloodstains inside and said they car matched descriptions of a vehicle that witnesses saw driving off after the murder.
Police said they were looking for a suspected stalker aged around 50 against whom Pasqualoni had made several police complaints.
Pasqualoni's police complaints had been shelved due to a legal technicality, according to a friend of hers, local lawyer Caterina Longo.
In a statement paying tribute to Pasqualoni, Italy's national association of doctors and dentists said it was "concerned and shocked" by her slaying.
"A doctor has been targeted who spent her life trying to save other people's," said the association, vowing to give her family "all possible support."