Amy Fisher Shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco

Later known as the Long Island Lolita, teenager Amy Fisher became infatuated with Joey Buttafuoco, a married auto-body shop owner. Fisher, wanting to marry Buttafuoco, with whom she was having an affair, shot and attempted to kill his wife, Mary Jo. The story became a sensation in the American media.

Summary of Event

Amy Fisher apparently was a shy and insecure child who craved attention while growing up. She claimed that her father beat her as well as her mother. She also alleged that she was sexually abused by a family member while growing up as a young child in Long Island, New York, and that she was raped Rape;of Amy Fisher[Fisher] at the age of thirteen by a man working at her home. [kw]Fisher Shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco, Amy (May 19, 1992)
[kw]Buttafuoco, Amy Fisher Shoots Mary Jo (May 19, 1992)
Fisher, Amy
Buttafuoco, Mary Jo
Buttafuoco, Joey
“Long Island Lolita”[Long Island Lolita]
Rape;and Joey Buttafuoco[Buttafuoco]
Fisher, Amy
Buttafuoco, Mary Jo
Buttafuoco, Joey
“Long Island Lolita”[Long Island Lolita]
Rape;and Joey Buttafuoco[Buttafuoco]
[g]United States;May 19, 1992: Amy Fisher Shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco[02570]
[c]Communications and media;May 19, 1992: Amy Fisher Shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco[02570]
[c]Law and the courts;May 19, 1992: Amy Fisher Shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco[02570]
[c]Violence;May 19, 1992: Amy Fisher Shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco[02570]
[c]Families and children;May 19, 1992: Amy Fisher Shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco[02570]
[c]Psychology and psychiatry;May 19, 1992: Amy Fisher Shoots Mary Jo Buttafuoco[02570]
Guagenti, Peter

Amy Fisher.

(AP/Wide World Photos)

In May, 1991, sixteen-year-old Fisher met thirty-five-year-old Joey Buttafuoco upon taking her car to Buttafuoco’s auto-body shop for repair. At the time, Buttafuoco was married to Mary Jo Buttafuoco and had two children. Fisher quickly became infatuated with the auto mechanic and began hanging around his repair shop. By July, Fisher and Buttafuoco were sexually involved and carrying out their secret affair in Long Island hotels. By August, Fisher was still involved with Buttafuoco, and her attraction was becoming obsessive. Fisher finally told Buttafuoco he had to choose between her and his wife. He chose to stay with Mary Jo, leading Fisher to break up with him.

Fisher became quite despondent. First, she made superficial cuts on her wrists, which may have been an attempt at suicide. She began dating other men, but she always wanted to get back together with Buttafuoco. By January, 1992, the two were once again together. Fisher came to believe that to keep Buttafuoco she would have to get rid of Mary Jo. Fisher later alleged that she and Buttafuoco discussed where to obtain a gun and how to shoot Mary Jo. Buttafuoco denied these claims.

On May 17, Fisher met the person who would supply her with a semiautomatic Titan .25 handgun: Peter Guagenti. Two days later, May 19, Fisher and Guagenti drove to the Buttafuoco home in Massapequa, New York. Before leaving, however, Fisher had replaced the license plates on Guagenti’s car with stolen plates to ensure their car would not link them to the murder. Around 11:30 a.m., Fisher confronted Mary Jo on the front porch of the Buttafuoco home, gun in hand, and told her that Buttafuoco was having an affair with her (Fisher’s) sister. Mary Jo told Fisher to get off her property, then turned away from her to reenter the house. Fisher then hit her on the head with the gun, and she fell to the ground. Fisher then shot her in the head.

Neighbors who heard the shots called 9-1-1 and tried to help Mary Jo, who was rushed to the local hospital and spent hours in surgery. By May 20 she was sufficiently conscious to speak with police. She told the officers that her attacker had held up a T-shirt she recognized from her husband’s auto shop. Police immediately began to question Buttafuoco, who suggested that the shooter might have been Fisher. He said that she was obsessed with him. The police showed a photograph of Fisher to Mary Jo, and she identified Fisher as the person who shot her. The following day, with help from Buttafuoco, the police located and arrested Fisher for attempted murder in the second degree. Fisher also was charged with armed felony assault and criminal use of a firearm.

As the story began to unfold, it became clear that Buttafuoco also had some responsibility for the attempted murder of his wife, despite his repeated public denials of any relationship with Fisher. The media, which dubbed Fisher the Long Island Lolita, quickly picked up on the sex-charged and scandalous story. She became a cultural phenomenon, and her life story was broadcast on television and in the print media. Three television films documented her life.

Fisher’s criminal case was docketed in the Nassau County, Long Island, court, where she initially pleaded not guilty. Her bail was set at $2 million, the highest bail ever set by the Nassau County court. Fisher was unable to pay the bail. She remained in jail until she sold the rights to her story to KLM Productions, using the money to post bail. Although New York state’s Son of Sam law prevents criminals from making money based on the stories of their crimes, the law was not invoked in the Fisher case.

Fisher eventually agreed to a plea bargain in which she would plead guilty to aggravated assault and testify against Buttafuoco for statutory rape. In September, 1992, she was sentenced to five to fifteen years. In 1999, after serving seven years at New York’s Albion Correctional Facility, she was paroled and released from prison after entering into a new plea bargain that carried a sentence of three to ten years. Mary Jo was behind the new plea-bargain agreement.

Buttafuoco was indicted on charges of statutory rape, endangering the welfare of a minor, and sodomy, based largely on the testimony of Fisher and evidence from one hotel receipt dated before Fisher’s seventeenth birthday. In October, 1993, Buttafuoco pleaded guilty to statutory rape and entered a plea bargain that netted him four months in jail. Guagenti served a six-month sentence for supplying Fisher with the gun.

Mary Jo and Joey Buttafuoco.

(AP/Wide World Photos)

In 2003, Fisher married Louis Bellara, whom she had met online while she was in prison; he was twenty-four years older than Fisher. The couple had two children. Fisher also became a columnist for the Long Island Press and won a media award for her column in 2004. She left the newspaper in 2005. She also became an activist for prisoners’ rights and prison reform, inspired in part by her experiences in prison, including an alleged rape by a correctional officer.

The Buttafuocos moved to California after the shooting and were divorced in 2003. He remarried in 2006. Buttafuoco’s legal troubles continued, as he faced charges for soliciting a prostitute in 1995 and was fined and given probation; was convicted of auto insurance fraud in 2004, for which he pleaded guilty and served one year in jail; and pleaded no contest for illegal possession of ammunition in 2005, for which he served a few months in jail. Mary Jo changed her last name to Connery, her birth name, and founded a company that designs posters. Her injuries from the shooting, including permanent nerve damage and paralysis, blurred vision in her right eye, and hearing loss, have affected her life since.


The Amy Fisher story became an instant money-maker. Sex and scandal sells, and as long as the public is willing to pay, entrepreneurs will continue to make money from this and similar stories.

In addition to earning money from the television films about her life, Fisher wrote and published two tell-all books. A sex tape of Fisher appeared on the World Wide Web in the fall of 2007, leading her to sue Red Light District, a hard-core-sex film distribution company, for releasing the tape, which allegedly was sold to the company by her husband at the time. In 2008, Red Light District also began selling a video of Buttafuoco having sex with his wife, Evanka, at a party in 2004. Mary Jo Buttafuoco made money from the scandal as well, but she used the funds she earned to help defray her tremendous medical bills. Moreover, rumors persisted that Fisher and Buttafuoco were planning to launch a reality show.

Fisher and Buttafuoco were reunited at a coin toss for the so-called “Lingerie ”Lingerie Bowl”[Lingerie Bowl] Bowl”—a heavily criticized pay-per-view alternative halftime show broadcast from Los Angeles on another station during Super Bowl Sunday. In May, 2007, the two reportedly were seen together in Long Island. Also in 2007, their spouses filed for divorce, but Evanka Buttafuoco soon withdrew her petition. Fisher, Amy
Buttafuoco, Mary Jo
Buttafuoco, Joey
“Long Island Lolita”[Long Island Lolita]
Rape;and Joey Buttafuoco[Buttafuoco]

Further Reading

  • Dominguez, Pier. Amy Fisher, Anatomy of a Scandal: The Myth, the Media, and the Truth Behind the Long Island Lolita Story. Lincoln, Nebr.: Writers Club Press, 2001. Based on interviews, court documents, and archival research, this biography looks beyond the media accounts in presenting Amy Fisher’s life story.
  • Eftimiades, Maria. Lethal Lolita: A True Story of Sex, Scandal, and Deadly Obsession. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. True-crime author Eftimiades presents a biographical account of Fisher before the scandal, outlines the details leading up to Fisher’s shooting of Mary Jo Buttafuoco, and examines the criminal trial.
  • Fisher, Amy, with Sheila Weller. Amy Fisher: My Story. Reprint. New York: Pocket Books, 1994. Written soon after Fisher’s conviction for attempted murder of Mary Jo Buttafuoco, Fisher and her mother attempt to explain and justify Fisher’s criminal behavior.
  • Fisher, Amy, with Robbie Woliver. If I Knew Then. Lincoln, Nebr.: iUniverse, 2004. Fisher, now married with children, tells her own life story, including taking responsibility for her criminal actions.
  • Hornberger, Francine. Mistresses of Mayhem: The Book of Women Criminals. Indianapolis, Ind.: Alpha, 2002. A collection for general readers that includes a discussion of the Amy Fisher scandal.

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