November 1, 2006
Greenwich Village, New York, New York
Actress/screen writer/director Adrienne Shelly is killed in her apartment and hanged to appear as a suicide after she complained to construction workers about noise
Shelly (40) had been working in an apartment which she used as an office, and found noise from a construction crew in another apartment to be excessive. Shelly confronted the crew and, after an argument, worker Diego Pillco (19) followed her back to her apartment.
Pillco found Shelly’s door open and reportedly intended to just steal Shelly’s purse, but when she discovered Pillco in her apartment she grabbed her phone to call police. Pillco — who was living and working in the United States illegally — panicked, fearing if authorities were called he would be deported. At trial, Pillco testified he put his hand over Shelly’s mouth to silence her and used a nearby bedsheet to strangle her. Pillco then hanged Shelly’s body with the sheet from a shower rod to appear as though she had killed herself, leaving behind a dusty footprint on the side of the bathtub in the process.
Shelly’s husband, Andy Ostroy, found Shelly’s body after growing concerned when he could not contact her.
Though the scene appeared to be a suicide, no note was found and Ostroy insisted his wife would not willingly leave her 3-year-old daughter behind. Investigators noted the footprint left at the scene matched others near the construction area and matched the print to Pillco. He was arrested on November 6 and admitted to the murder, though he initially claimed he had struck her in anger and believed he had accidentally killed her at which point he staged the suicide.
Pillco eventually changed his story and his plea. He pleaded guilty to murder in 2008 and received a sentence of 25 years in prison.
- Ross, Barbara and Schapiro, Rich. “Ain’t enough years.” Daily News [New York, New York]. March 14, 2008
- “Construction worker pleaded guilty in NYC death of actress.” Poughkeepsie Journal [Poughkeepsie, New York]. February 15, 2008
- “Man pleads not guilty in actress’ death.” Poughkeepsie Journal [Poughkeepsie, New York]. December 14, 2006
- Lueck, Thomas J. “Actress’s Death Is Ruled Murder, and Worker in Building Is Charged.” The New York Times [New York, New York]. November 7, 2006
- Gendar, Alison, Lauinger, John, Ross, Barbara, and Siemaszko, Corky. “Killer Staged Her ‘Suicide.’” Daily News [New York, New York]. November 7, 2006