It’s May 1992 in the affluent suburbs of Long Island, New York. Seventeen-year-old Amy Fisher has arrived at the home of her older lover, Joey Buttafuoco. After a brief conversation with his wife Mary Jo, Fisher fires a bullet into her face. With one shot, the “Long Island Lolita” has made her way into the nation’s headlines – and will remain there for many years to come.
Born in August 1974, Fisher grew up in Nassau County in Long Island, New York. She enjoyed a comfortable life with her parents Roseann and Elliot. And for Fisher’s 16th birthday, her parents presented her with a car. However, it wasn’t long before the teenager got into an accident and needed to get the vehicle repaired.
Fisher then decided to take her car to the same repair shop that her father Elliot used. In fact, she had already met the owner, 35-year-old Buttafuoco, when she had accompanied him there on a previous occasion. And over the course of a number of visits, the two began an affair.
Despite the fact that Buttafuoco had a wife and two children, the illicit relationship continued for 18 months. According to Fisher, their dates involved dining in fancy restaurants, before spending the night in a motel. Then in May 1992 the relationship came to a bloody conclusion.
Apparently, Foster had been fostering a sense of jealousy towards Buttafuoco’s wife, Mary Jo, over the course of the affair. And that day, she enlisted the help of an acquaintance, Peter Guagenti. He helped fit a set of stolen plates on Buttafuoco’s vehicle and drove Fisher to the nearby town of Massapequa, where his family lived.
At around midday on May 19, 1992, Fisher arrived at Buttafuoco’s home. And when his wife Mary Jo answered the door, she explained that her husband had been unfaithful. However, rather than admit to the affair herself, she lied, claiming it had been with her younger sister.
Eventually, Buttafuoco’s wife Mary Jo agreed to speak to her husband on the telephone. But when she turned to head back into the house, Fisher drew out a gun. And what happened next is the subject of some debate. While the teenager claimed that she only meant to hit her rival with the weapon, the encounter nonetheless ended with a bullet through Mary Jo’s temple.
Fisher and Guagenti then fled the scene. Meanwhile, Mary Jo’s neighbors came to her rescue and dialed 911. And although doctors could not dislodge the bullet, which remained embedded near her spine, she survived the ordeal. Meanwhile, the community was left baffled as to why someone might commit such a crime.
Eventually, Buttafuoco’s wife Mary Jo came round from her ordeal and identified Fisher from a photograph. Police stepped in and made an arrest, and two weeks later the teenager pleaded not guilty in court. But by then, tabloid newspapers had picked up the story, portraying Fisher as the “Long Island Lolita.”
During the trial, a number of different stories about Fisher emerged. Prosecutor Fred Klein quoted her father Elliot, who had said she was “totally uncontrollable” in a missing person’s report the previous year. For their part, lawyers described Fisher as a prostitute who had plotted to murder her love rival in a fit of jealousy. Meanwhile, neighbors recalled a polite young woman who could often be spotted taking her dog for a walk.
To Eric Naiburg, Fisher’s lawyer, the accusations of prostitution leveled at his client were moot. If she were a sex worker, he reasoned, then Buttafuoco was guilty of acting as her pimp. And with Fisher behind bars, he then set out to sell her story, and raise the $2 million towards her bail.
Eventually, both Fisher and Buttafuoco’s wife Mary Jo ended up with lucrative TV deals. Meanwhile, a video purporting to show the teenager engaged in a sex act with a paying client emerged. Then came another twist in the tale. As the affair with Buttafuoco had begun when Fisher was just 16 years old, he could be charged with statutory rape in the state of New York.
Fisher’s lawyer Naiburg then filed a complaint against Buttafuoco. But in July 1992 Fisher had a change of mind regarding her own trial, and entered a guilty plea. Three days later, she attempted suicide after yet another scandal emerged. Tabloid show Hard Copy had acquired footage of the teenager visiting her boyfriend Paul Makely the day before she had pleaded guilty.
In the video, Fisher could be heard talking about her desire for fortune and fame. “I want my name in the press,” she said in the video. “Because I can make a lot of money. I figure if I have to go through all the pain and suffering, I’m getting a Ferrari.” And during her stay in hospital, a screenwriter from NBC came to visit, seemingly keen to grant her wish.
However, Fisher then requested to be sent to prison a month early in order to escape hounding by the press. Finally, in December 1992 she was sentenced to between five and 15 years behind bars. And that same month, the NBC movie Amy Fisher: My Story played out the details of her life on America’s TV screens. Later in January 1993 two more similar features would air.
Then in February 1993 Buttafuoco appeared in court on charges of statutory rape. And although he had previously denied the relationship with Fisher, it soon emerged that he had boasted to his employees about the affair. Eventually found guilty, he spent five months in jail.
After serving seven years of her sentence, Fisher left prison in 1999. However, it wasn’t the end of her time in the spotlight. In 2004 she released a book, If I Knew Then…, which detailed the events surrounding the shooting. And two years later, she joined Buttafuoco’s wife Mary Jo in a televised reunion.
Although Fisher and Mary Jo appeared to put their past behind them, even embracing on the show, by 2008 the younger woman had changed her tune. “Mary Jo is a nonentity,” she told Fox News. “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. I feel no sympathy for Mary Jo the multimillionaire.”
Meanwhile, Fisher had married a videographer named Lou Bellera – despite the 24-year age gap between them. And in 2007 a sex tape emerged of the pair. Apparently, it was the start of a career change for Fisher, who began appearing in adult movies and as a stripper at clubs along America’s East Coast.
Eventually, Fisher moved to Florida in 2011. But, she claims, her fame followed her there – resulting in the unwanted attention of a stalker who broke into her gated community. And in 2017 she returned to Long Island, although she has told the press that her celebrity days are over. “It’s just not worth it,” she told the New York Post in 2017. “I want a private life. My life has already been ruined.”