The One with Adrienne Shelley

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I don't want to be a downer, but sometimes things make impressions on me that I feel like writing about. For example: Once upon a time Chris and I rented Waitress from Red Box.
I didn't like it immediately; there are a lot of love affairs and one short scene I could do without. But then when I couldn't stop thinking about it I knew that I actually enjoyed it. Over Christmas break in Colorado I found the DVD for $5 at King Sooper's grocery store. When I opened it up there was an insert about the Adrienne Shelly Foundation. I found out that she wrote, directed and starred in the movie as one of the cute waitresses.

I read on and it said, "The Adrienne Shelly Foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization dedicated in loving memory to the uniquely gifted actor and filmmaker Adrienne Shelly, whose highly accomplished life was tragically cut short in November 2006." I was intrigued. Her life was cut tragically short? How? I thought it was probably cancer. So I googled Adrienne Shelly and found out the details (warning, if you don't like reading about sad stories, stop now):

At about 5:45 p.m on November 1, 2006
, Shelly's husband, Andrew Ostroy, found her hanging by a bedsheet from a shower rod in the bathtub of the Abingdon Square apartment in Manhattan's West Village that Shelly used as an office. It initially appeared to be a suicide. Ostroy had dropped her off at 9:30 that morning, and as the building's doorman told journalists, "He hadn't heard from her and he said it was odd not to hear from her, so he was nervous. And he asked me to go up to the apartment with him, so we went to the front door and it was unlocked."

An autopsy was performed the following day. The New York City Police Department was suspicious of sneaker prints in the bathtub that did not match Shelly's shoes (she was found wearing only socks). Shelly's husband also indicated that there was money missing from Shelly's wallet. He denied allegations that she could have committed suicide.

Press reports on November 6, 2006 stated that police had arrested construction worker Diego Pillco, a 19-year-old Ecuadorian illegal immigrant who confessed to killing Shelly after she complained about the noise he was making in the apartment below hers. Pillco said that he "was having a bad day." (Paige's note: what a lame excuse!) Police said Pillco had made videos implicating himself in the murder, and as of November 7, 2006, was being held without bail for her murder.

Diego Pillco entered his guilty plea February 14, 2008. He said that, contrary to his original story, Shelly had not complained about noise, but rather had caught him stealing money from her purse after he slipped into the apartment. When she tried to call the police, he grabbed the phone and covered her mouth as she began to scream. After she fell, he tied a bedsheet around her neck and decided to choke her. Originally, Pillco claimed he didn't know Shelly was still alive when he hanged her, but in court he admitted to choking her with a sheet, tying it around her neck, and stringing her up to make it look like she committed suicide. The medical examiner determined that Shelly was still alive when hanged. Pillco received 25 years in prison without parole when he was sentenced on March 6, 2008.

In remembering Shelly, Ostroy said that "Adrienne was the kindest, warmest, most loving, generous person I knew. She was incredibly smart, funny and talented, a bright light with an infectious laugh and huge smile that radiated inner and outer beauty... She was my best friend, and the person with whom I was supposed to grow old."

Shelly's husband is now suing the contractor, Bradford General Contractors, who had hired Pillco. He argued that Shelly would still be alive if the contracting firm had not hired Pillco. He also seeks to hold the owners and management of the building liable for her murder.

Adrienne and Ostroy have a daughter, Sophie, who was two years old at the time of Shelly's death. She is the little girl that plays Keri Russell's daughter in the closing scene of Waitress.

I am just sickened and saddened by the whole situation. Some 19 year old punk gets caught stealing chump change so he MURDERS her. He could have just ran away. He could have just knocked her out. But no, he took her life. So so sad. It's hard to watch the movie now and not think about the tragedy that happened before the movie even came out. This is my post dedicated to Adrienne Shelly and her accomplishments.


  1. I share your thoughts about the movie...It was one of those you leave not knowing if you really liked it.

    What a tragic story! I had no idea. I don't even know what to say...

  2. so sad. i too adore this movie. i knew she had died, but i didn't know that it was such a tragic death. thanks for sharing.
    ~danni perez


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