Amy Fisher and Mary Jo Buttafuoco have had an unusual relationship in the years since Fisher shot Buttafuoco in the head. Fisher was just 17 when she shot the wife of her lover, Joey Buttafuoco, in the doorway of her Long Island home.
Seven years later, Mary Jo Buttafuoco asked the court to release Fisher early. Fisher was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison for first-degree assault. The women had a touching moment in court, according to The New York Times. Fisher gave Buttafuoco a tear-filled apology, and Buttafuoco told the court the shooting was not Fisher’s fault. The courtroom fell silent, and the women walked toward each other, “clasped hands and looked into each other’s eyes.”
The story was reexamined on an encore episode of ABC 20/20, “Growing Up Buttafuoco,” which Friday, September 4, 2020 at 9 p.m. EST. Tonight, Amy Fisher: Kill For Me airs on Reelz at 9 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, July 15, 2021.
About 10 years later, Buttafuoco said Fisher was a B-list porn star, and told Dr. Oz two years ago Fisher is “kind of a waste.” Fisher had her own retorts, telling Steppin’ Out Magazine she had “no sympathy for Mary Jo the multimillionaire.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Case Stumped Police Until Mary Jo Buttafuoco Made a ‘Miraculous’ Recovery & Gave a Description of Amy Fisher
Mary Jo Buttafuoco nearly died after 17-year-old Amy Fisher shot her in the head with a 25-caliber revolver in the doorway of the Buttafuoco’s Long Island home May 19, 1992. The bullet severed the carotid artery in her brain, which supplies blood to the brain. She endured surgery for nine hours and was on a respirator for two days. Only then, police were cleared to interview her, according to a May 23, 1992 article from the New York Daily News. Buttafuoco was able to give police a description of the teen who shot her.
“Sgt. Daniel Severin of the Nassau County homicide squad said police had no evidence and few clues to the shooting until Mary Jo Buttafuoco made what doctors at Nassau County Medical Center termed a ‘miraculous’ recovery and gave police a description of her assailant,” the 1992 article said.
Joey Buttafuoco identified Amy Fisher from his wife’s description of the shooter.
“When detectives reported the information to her husband, Joseph, he broke down and told them of the affair and where they could find his young lover,” the article said. “She was pulled over in her car at 6 p.m. Thursday [May 22, 1992] on Merrick Road, a short distance from her home.”
2. Amy Fisher, Fisher’s Mom & Mary Jo Buttafuoco Wrote Letters to Each Other for Years While she Was Incarcerated
Mary Jo Buttafuoco started writing letters to the person who tried to kill her while Amy Fisher was still in prison. Buttafuoco began correspondence with both Fisher and her mom, Roseann Fisher, about two years before Fisher’s release, according to The New York Times. In the article, the newspaper was covering a parole hearing for Fisher in 1999. Buttafuoco supported Fisher’s release from prison.
The newspaper reported, “[Mary Jo Buttafuoco’s attorney, Dominic] Mr. Barbara said the reconciliation began two years ago when Mrs. Buttafuoco, Ms. Fisher and Ms. Fisher’s mother, Roseanne Fisher, began exchanging letters. Ms. Fisher’s lawyer, Bruce A. Barket, thanked Mrs. Buttafuoco for her ‘unselfish act of forgiveness’ and told the court that, if the New York State Parole Board soon granted Ms. Fisher her freedom, she would live with her mother and begin work. He would not, however, say what Ms. Fisher would do.”
Buttafuoco criticized Fisher’s former attorney, Eric Naiburg, on Fisher’s behalf, according to the article.
“He lied to her to get her to plead. He filled her head with sexual fantasies and put her on national TV, telling her what to say,” The New York Times quoted her as saying. “He manipulated her for five years, acting as if he were her Hollywood agent and she were his star.”
Fisher told the court she was not fairly represented, and that he promised her a sentence of 3 1/2 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea. She further claimed Naiburg had a sexual relationship with her.
When The New York Times asked Naiburg for comment in 1999, he responded, “I’m very happy for Ms. Fisher. Obviously the work I did on her behalf has borne fruit. If Mary Jo can forgive Amy for shooting her, and Joey for inspiring the shooting, I too can be forgiving.”
3. Mary Jo Buttafuoco Backed Amy Fisher’s Early Release from Prison & Said she Forgave her After Fisher Apologized
Mary Jo Buttafuoco spearheaded a relationship between the teen who shot her while she was behind bars. She even recommended Fisher be released early from prison, according to an April 1, 1999 article in The Morning Call.
“Amy Fisher has won the support of prosecutors in the motion to vacate her assault conviction – and also the backing of the woman she shot in the head,” the article said. “Mary Jo Buttafuoco joined prosecutors in the motion on behalf of Fisher, who said she was denied effective legal advice when she pleaded guilty to first-degree assault.”
Fisher spent about seven years in prison. She was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree assault. She told the court in 1999 her former lawyer convinced her that if she pleaded guilty, prosecutors would help her enter a work release program and earn parole in three years. The District Attorney’s Office told the newspaper prosecutors never promised work release.
“Mary Jo Buttafuoco said in a letter that she forgave her attacker after meeting her mother and corresponding with Fisher, now 24, for months,” the article said.
A few weeks later, Fisher apologized in court, and Buttafuoco had the opportunity to publicly accept the apology, according to an April 23, 1999 article from The New York Times.
The article said: “‘She has shown true remorse and sorrow for what she did to me,’ Mrs. Buttafuoco, 44, told the court. She then turned to Amy and said, ‘You are being given a second chance in life, and I pray you will take it and make something positive out of all this tragedy.’ The women then came together in the middle of the silent courtroom, clasped hands and looked into each other’s eyes. ‘I’m sorry. I’m truly very sorry,’ Ms. Fisher said.”
The parole board voted 2-1 to release Fisher, according to an Associated Press article published May 6, 1999. The panel interviewed her at the Albion Correctional Facility in western New York, where she was held for nearly seven years.
After her release at age 24, she remained on parole until 2003, according to the Huron Daily Tribune.
4. Mary Jo Buttafuoco Said she Still Thinks About Fisher Every Day Because of her Lasting Injuries
Mary Jo Buttafuoco has continual physical reminders of Amy Fisher because of the permanent injuries she suffered in the shooting. She was shot in the head with a .25-caliber revolver, and the bullet remains lodged in her neck because doctors were unable to remove it without causing further damage. Her face is partially paralyzed, and she is deaf in her right ear. In 2006, she had additional surgeries to address her lasting injuries and to enhance her appearance, according to a 2009 article from News Day.
“Mary Jo publicly forgave Fisher, a move that preordained the shooter’s early release,” the article said. “Even today, though, she thinks of Fisher ‘a lot.’ ‘Every day, when I look in the mirror and I can’t move my face in a certain way.’
5. Mary Jo Buttafuoco Said Amy Fisher Is ‘Kind of a Waste’ & Fisher Said she Feels ‘No Sympathy’ for Buttafuoco
Mary Jo Buttafuoco had high hopes for Amy Fisher when she was released from prison in 1999 at age 24. At that time, she hoped the young woman would make something of her life.
“She needed to be punished – she tried to kill me – but Amy Fisher is not a ‘Lolita.’ This is a sick girl. This is not a seductress,” she said in a letter to the court in 1999, according to The New York Post.
About 20 years later, she told Dr. Oz Fisher was “kind of a waste.”
“You know, it’s been 25 years,” she said on the show in 2017. “She’s in her 40s now. She hasn’t made good choices, that’s her decision. I wish she hadn’t. I forgave her. I forgave her more for me, because again, like I said, when you got this anger and this bitterness you have to say, ‘You know what, I can’t keep you in my head anymore.'”
She went on to say, “I don’t have a lot of thoughts about her other than kind of a waste — she’s kind of a waste.”
In 2008, Amy Fisher told Steppin’ Out Magazine she feels “no sympathy” for Mary Jo Buttafuoco.
“Mary Jo is a nonentity. People are angry at me because I’m a millionaire. But guess what? So is Mary Jo! She made more millions off of what I did than what I made,” Fisher said.
She continued, “I feel no sympathy for Mary Jo the multimillionaire! The fact that Mary Jo has a bullet in her head means nothing! I still have silicone in my boobs, and you don’t hear me complaining. She can’t feel her bullet, and I can’t feel my silicone.”
A week earlier, Buttafuoco had criticized Fisher, saying, “She’s no Jenna Jameson, she’s just a porn star … She tried to kill somebody, and now [she’s] making money off it.”
Fisher told the New York Post in 2017 that Mary Jo Mary Jo Buttafuoco “really is a wonderful lady and I was just a stupid kid.”
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