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Florida Woman Brutally Murdered Rich Boyfriend After He Allegedly Abused Her for Years

Ronald Vinci lived the good life and owned yachts and multiple vehicles. The couple shared the mansion where the murder occurred.
Cover Image Source: YouTube/CBS Miami
Cover Image Source: YouTube/CBS Miami

A Florida woman said she feared for her life when she brutally murdered her long-time boyfriend, claiming the man would have killed her if she hadn't taken the extreme action.

Catherine Pileggi had been in an on-and-off relationship for two decades with Ronald Vinci, Oxygen reported. On June 27, 2011, Vinci was murdered at his own house in Fort Lauderdale, and Pileggi was identified as the main suspect.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Karolina Kaboompics
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Karolina Kaboompics

On June 28, 2011, Vinci's friend, Spencer Gordon, called 911 and said that an accident had happened at his friend's house. He told dispatchers that someone had fallen down the stairs and died.

Police arrived at the scene and found a body inside sleeping bags, sheets, and towels, Oxygen reported. It was Vinci's body.

“His body looked like a big clump of dirty laundry sitting off to the right side of the bed,” William DeJesus, a former Fort Lauderdale police detective, shared, Oxygen reported. “Once they saw that, they said, ‘Holy cow! We got an issue here.’”

Vinci reportedly was affluent and owned yachts and multiple vehicles. The couple shared the mansion where the murder occurred.

“He purchased a two-story home in one of Fort Lauderdale’s richest ritziest neighborhoods that he shared with Catherine,” said Rafael Olmeda, a journalist at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Oxygen reported. 


Gordon told police that he learned about the death from Reynaldo Silva, a handyman employed by Vinci. After arriving in the house he confronted Pileggi.

“I said, ‘What did you do?’ She just stared. Didn’t say anything,’” Gordon told police.

Pileggi allegedly shared with Gordon that she had shot Vinci after an argument and requested him not to involve the police. Gordon then called the authorities to the scene.

Officers interviewed Silva to figure out what had transpired that day. The handyman told police that he got a call from Pileggi at 1 a.m. from Vinci's phone, requesting him to rent a truck.

The following day, when he called Vinci's phone, Pileggi picked up and asked him to come to the house. 

Pileggi took Silva into the bedroom where Vinci's body was and asked him to throw it in the ocean, Oxygen reported.

“He fell from the stairs,” Silva said, “then, she goes and says to me, ‘Ron [has] to be — he [wants to] be buried in the ocean.’” After hearing Pileggi's request, Silva called Gordon.

Silva did not contact police as he did not want to be misunderstood due to his English-speaking skills, Oxygen reported. “I didn’t call the police because I was afraid… afraid of not being understood because I know I have poor English,” Silva recalled.

Vinci's body was recovered by investiagators and showed signs of blunt-force trauma and other injuries. Officials found that he had been stabbed seven times in the neck, five times in the chest, received blows from a bat, and was also shot on the left side of his head. 

Police reportedly found evidence against Pileggi in connection with the murder, Oxygen reported, including the fact she bought a bin and dive weights before the murder.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by RDNE Stock project
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Photo by RDNE Stock project

In Vinci's luxury Bentley vehicle, investigators found several plastic bags that contained weapons, including a handgun, a knife with blood on it, and a hammer, Oxygen reported. Fingerprints were lifted off the gun, which matched Pileggi's prints.

Vinci's blood was found at the bottom of the staircase that connected to the first floor of the house. Crime-scene analysis showed that the blood had been cleaned up from the site. The determination was enough for officials to arrest Pileggi on a first-degree murder charge, Oxygen reported. 

“It was a red flag because if she was planning to do this ahead of time, this would be an earmark of premeditated murder,” prosecutor Brian Cavanagh said, Oxygen reported.

Tom Gonzales, Vinci’s friend, believed that the relationship was a status symbol for his departed pal, Oxygen reported. “Cathy was a very good-looking, gorgeous woman,” he said.

“I think that she was somewhat of a trophy girlfriend. You know, ‘My girlfriend’s an airline stewardess and she’s a hottie,’” Gonzales theorized.

The investigation revealed that the situation was tense between the couple, Oxygen reported. From the accounts of family and friends, it was clear that the two were always fighting and might have soon gone their separate ways had the murder not occurred. 

“It was apparent to me that Ron would drink a bit too much, and that I think caused some rift between the two of them,” Gonzales said, Oxygen reported.

“He would just drink. Become very boisterous. He would bump into people, or he would be obnoxious. And I think he was being somewhat too obnoxious to Cathy from time to time,” Gonzales said.

Pileggi initially did not talk with police, but months later, during a psychological evaluation, she shared that she killed Vinci after years of alleged domestic abuse, Oxygen reported.

She explained how medications and drinking allegedly affected Vinci's mood, which impacted their relationship. Pileggi shared what happened on that fateful day with the psychologist. 

The couple argued on the top of the staircase, she claimed, Oxygen reported. “Now we know this only from her words. He stuck a gun in her face,” said Bruce Udolf, Pileggi’s defense attorney.

“He was so drunk and out of it from all the drugs he was taking that he fell backward and fell and hit his head at the bottom of the stairs,” Udolf alleged. 

Pileggi then wiped the blood and pulled Vinci to the bed on a rug, Oxygen reported. “She sees the gun,” Udolf said. “Sees the clip was half out and the gun had jammed, and realizes, ‘Oh, this time he really meant it. He really was going to kill me.’ And that’s when she takes the gun and goes into the bedroom, sees him lying there."

Faced with the realization that, according to her, this time he would have finished her, Pileggi took the gun in her hands, Oxygen reported.

Udolf shared what Pillegi told the psychologist about the next few moments,  "She said, 'The next thing I know, I’m standing over Ron, and he's in bed, dead. And I have a knife in my hand.' She said, 'I don’t remember what happened, but I know I must have killed him.'"

The captain of one of Vinci's yachts corroborated the account, claiming that he witnessed the alleged violence escalate between the couple, Oxygen reported. "He said he had witnessed a great deal of physical abuse," Udolf said.

During trial Pillegi, shared the alleged cruel things that Vinci told her during the argument, Mirror reported, such as allegedly telling her she "didn’t deserve to live."

She stated that she fully believed if Vinci had woken up that day, he would have killed her. 

The prosecution focused on how Pillegi overkilled Vinci that night, the Mirror reported. Despite Vinci lying on the bed, posing no danger, she delivered blow after blow, the prosecution claimed.

Pileggi was found guilty by the jury on the charge of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years. She will be released in 2033, Oxygen reported.

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