Adrienne Shelly’s career was on an upward trajectory when her life was stolen from her and her family.
Shelly’s life, and her 2006 murder, is explored in the new HBO Max documentary “Adrienne.” Shelly, whose birth name was Adrienne Levine, was 40 when she was killed just months before her movie “Waitress,” which she both directed and starred in, debuted. It has since been celebrated for being ahead of its time and its premise has become a popular Broadway musical. She ahd also starred in cult classics “Trust” and “The Unbelievable Truth” before starting her own theater company.
Shelly’s husband Andy Ostroy found her dead a day after Halloween, hanging by a bedsheet tied into a noose from a shower curtain rail in a Manhattan apartment that she rented as an office. While police initially determined that her death was a suicide, Ostroy insisted that Shelly — who had a 2-year-old daughter named Sophie — was not suicidal.
He was right. Shelly, a true 1990s It Girl who was once on the cover of Spin magazine, had been murdered.
Diego Pillco, then 19, was helping to renovate another apartment in the building when he killed Shelly.
In February of 2008, Pillco admitted to killing Shelly, ABC7 reported at the time. He claimed he killed her after Shelly had threatened to call the cops on him; she had caught him stealing money from her purse. Pillco got 25 years without parole after pleading guilty to the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter.
In “Adrienne,” Ostroy confronted Pillco behind bars.
Pillco told Ostroy through a Spanish translator that he “needed money” and that when Shelly “started yelling at me, the only word that I heard her say was ‘police.’”
He admitted to strangling Shelly until her lips turned blue. Then, he told Ostroy that he attempted to make it all look like a suicide.
“Did you think you’d gotten away with it?” Ostroy asked.
“Yes,” Pillco replied. He then muttered that he was sorry after the grieving husband showed him photos of Shelly and their daughter.
“This is the life you took away,” Ostroy told Pillco.
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