A sick 18-month-old boy whose kidnapping in Italy transfixed the nation has been found dead. Police discovered the body of Tommaso Onofri, who suffered from epilepsy, near a river after being led there by Mario Alessi. Alessi had worked at the Onofri family’s farmhouse near Parma as a mason. Alessi, his partner and another man were detained and have reportedly admitted taking part in the kidnapping. Alessi has said Tommaso was killed on the night of his abduction as the kidnappers tried to stop him crying.Two masked men armed with a knife and what appeared to be a fake gun had entered the Onofri home and tied up Tomasso’s parents. Yesterday, before Tommaso was found dead, his father Paolo said: “These people had already been into our home for a coffee, and we talked about problems with our children and things you normally chat about with people you know.” Investigative sources say the kidnappers had meant to abduct the toddler for a short time to extort money from his family, probably from his father who works at a post office which doubles as a savings bank. Prominent figures, from Pope Benedict and politicians to singers and football players, had appealed for Tommaso’s release, and several rallies were held.