According to the episode description for tonight’s episode of The Killer Beside Me, “A retail store employee’s crush on his manager escalates into an obsession after he’s fired for inappropriate behavior. When she’s transferred out of state for work, the stalker tracks her down to carry out his twisted plans.”
Zachary Lapelusa pleaded guilty in a plea deal that was reached after consulting with Venditti Bruce’s family, according to the New Haven Register. Read on to learn more about the murder as well as the charges and sentencing.
Lapelusa and Bruce Were Formerly Colleagues
Antoinette Venditti Bruce and Zachary Lapelusa once worked together at a Christmas store in Orange, CT. Zachary's crush escalated into an obsession after he was fired for inappropriate behavior. Antoinette’s case will be on tonight's season premiere of #TheKillerBesideMe. pic.twitter.com/z8d07MFhfr
— Investigation Discovery (@DiscoveryID) September 17, 2020
Zachary Lapelusa and Antoinette Venditti Bruce, who was 35 at the time of her death, worked together at a Christmas Tree Shop, according to the Connecticut Post. The New Haven Register reported that Bruce worked as the manager of the store and Lapelusa had been fired for inappropriate behavior, and he believed that Bruce was responsible for the decision to fire him.
Police alleged that Lepelusa killed Bruce in a hotel parking lot and dumped her body in a drainage ditch nearby, the Connecticut Post reported. The attack happened after Lapelusa learned Bruce had been temporarily transferred to a new store in Middletown, CT.
Middletown Police Detective Walter Mey located Lapelusa soon after the crime based on descriptions of him given by witnesses at the hotel. Lapelusa was arrested after a high-speed pursuit and foot chase, according to Patch.com.
Lapelusa Was Sentenced to Life In Prison
— Cierra Putman (@CierraReporter) May 10, 2013
According to the State of Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Lapelusa is in prison for kidnapping, eluding police and first-degree murder.
During the trial, details about the gruesome crime were released, including the fact that Lapelusa stabbed Bruce “a minimum of 47 times” and could have been “as many as 90 times,” according to the New Haven Register.
During the sentencing, according to the same report, Lapelusa apologized for the murder.
“I know it’s not going to mean much… But I’m truly sorry for what I did that day…” he said at the sentencing, the New Haven Register reported. “I did a horrible act. I’m sorry that I ruined two families that day.”
Ana Albe, Bruce’s sister, said that the family would not forgive him.
“I and the family of Antoinette Venditti Bruce will never, ever, ever forgive Zachary Lapelusa,” she said, adding later that she believed “He should never be allowed out of prison, as he has no regard for human life.”
Albe also said that she remembered getting the call about her sister’s murder.
“Antoinette’s death has made me vulnerable and scared to go on with my life,” she said. I once was the little sister, and now I am an only child.”
Lapelusa is in maximum security in the prison system and is serving a life sentence plus 20 years for kidnapping. The sentence for kidnapping is to be served consecutively with the life sentence, and the one year for eluding police was served concurrently. If he is granted parole after 20 years in his life sentence, he will still have to serve the additional 20 years for kidnapping.