Thursday Aug. 31, about 4 pm Mary Elizabeth Marinello was in a parking lot when she was shot in the face. With no witnesses to the shooting, police were looking for a shabbily dressed man with a beard and mustache who was seen riding away from the area. Reportedly there were witnesses who had seen the man putting the bicycle into the back of a white car. Ms. Marinello died about 2 am on Fri.
Though crime had been down in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, at the beginning of this year it began picking back up. The murder occurred in an affluent, relatively low crime area of the city. Yet with no other leads police at first thought this might have been a botched robbery, as Ms. Marinello had fallen on her purse which contained 2 cell phones and her wallet.
Ms. Marinello’s estranged husband was reportedly in Jackson, Mississippi at the time of the shooting and he contacted police on Friday after a coworker told him about the shooting. He then went to the police station for questioning. He had an alibi that he was in Mississippi watching a football game with friends when the shooting occurred.
Vince Marinello and Mary Elizabeth Marinello were in the midst of a hotly contested divorce. Friends and relatives have said that after Hurricane Katrina the couple had been under a lot of stress. The couple had married in Oct. 2004 after knowing each other for 8 months. When Ms. Marinello filed for divorce in July, she then learned that Vince Marinello had not filed for a divorce from his previous wife until 8 days before their wedding. The divorce was not final at the time of the couple’s wedding. Two weeks prior to the shooting police were called to a domestic dispute, and arrested Ms. Marinello for battery. Police say that Vince Marinello had received superficial injuries.
Then police found a security tape with images of the murder. That led them to believe this was a ‘hit’ not a botched robbery. Because of problems on the tape, an enhancement had to be completed. After the enhancement the tape showed the man on the bicycle waited for 30 minutes for Ms. Marinello to appear. Then police completed a search at the Marinello home.
Reportedly during the search of the home, police found a handwritten list. Among the checked off items were words like ‘beard and mustache’, ‘bicycle’, and ‘gun’. Police say there was even a reminder to get rid of the gun. Marinello’s alibi that he was in Mississippi watching a football game with friends fell apart when they didn’t back him up in the timing. The owner of a costume shop reported that Marinello bought a fake mustache there. And though Marinello had denied owning a .38 caliber gun, a gun shop owner reported that Marinello had come in with one, asked to test fire it, and purchased the same type of ammunition with a special coating that was used in the murder of his wife.
Vince Marinello, 68, has turned himself in and has been arrested on the charge of second degree murder. Bond was set at $250,000 and he has been placed on suicide watch as a precaution.
Prosecutors say that the charge of 2 nd degree murder is for an intentional murder. They say the facts do not support a 1 st degree murder as with that charge there must be evidence that the murder was committed with another felony such as kidnapping, rape, or armed robbery and they say the facts do not support that in this case.
Sorry for the excessive number of links. This investigation has been going on for over a week and due to the high profile nature (Vince Marinello was a radio jockey) there has been extensive coverage. And as the investigation evolved from what was first thought to be a botched robbery, there were major changes to report.