Burlington killing was caught on iPad, DA says

Grisly attack disrupted video chat

Christopher Piantedosi, 39, pleaded not guilty in Woburn District Court Monday to murdering Kristen Pulisciano.
Christopher Piantedosi, 39, pleaded not guilty in Woburn District Court Monday to murdering Kristen Pulisciano.(JULIA MALAKIE/LOWELL SUN/ASSOCIATED PRESS/POOL)

WOBURN - As a raging Christopher Piantedosi kicked in the door and hacked again and again at his ex-girlfriend with a meat cleaver and as she pleaded with him, “Chris, please stop! I love you,’’ the horror of her killling was recorded by an iPad in the room, prosecutors said Monday.

Left behind by the victim’s 15-year-old daughter - who had been video-chatting with a friend on Thursday when Piantedosi allegedly burst in - the iPad saw and transmitted to the girl’s friend the final, terrible details of the Burlington resident’s life and her assailant’s rage.

“The defendant had kicked in the door, threw the victim on the bed, and began stabbing her with a butcher knife, and that was visible to the daughter’s friend through the video-conferencing application,’’ said Nicole Allain, Middlesex assistant district attorney, during Piantedosi’s arraignment in Woburn District Court.


“You are going to die,’’ Piantedosi allegedly said to 38-year-old Kristen Pulisciano as she tried to shield herself from the blows and her daughter screamed “No, no!’’

At his arraignment, Piantedosi stood with his hands cuffed in front of his body and wearing a white dress shirt. He repeatedly grimaced and shook his head from side to side as Allain spoke.

“She was covered in blood and she had a knife protruding from her neck,’’ the prosecutor said.

Piantedosi, through his attorney, Michael Collora, pleaded not guilty, and Judge Marianne Hinkle ordered him held without bail pending a probable-cause hearing on June 7.

Pulisciano had thrown her boyfriend out of her home recently after their longtime relationship soured, authorities have said. For several weeks, Piantedosi had been living with relatives in Methuen. But authorities allege he repeatedly returned, uninvited and unwelcome, to 23 Forbes Ave. in Burlington and grew more violent toward her.

On Thursday, Piantedosi again returned to the modest white ranch-style home, and started arguing with Pulisciano in her kitchen, drawing the attention of her 15-year-old daughter, who was in her bedroom video-chatting with a male friend, prosecutors said.


They said Pulisciano and her daughter had ordered dinner prior to Piantedosi’s arrival, but the delivery driver had not yet reached the house.

The daughter walked to the kitchen, where she saw Piantedosi, 39, holding a knife, Allain said. Pulisciano managed to get him to hand her the knife, but the defendant allegedly grew enraged after the teen commented, “What, are you trying to kill Mom or something?’’

Pulisciano then fled to her daughter’s bedroom, and shut the door behind her, but Piantedosi allegedly grabbed a meat cleaver and followed her. He kicked in the door, shoved his ex-girlfriend to the bed, and started stabbing her, Allain said.

It was not clear Monday where in the house the daughter was during this time. The victim’s 20-year-old son was not at home.

Piantedosi was wearing a white sweater that became covered with the victim’s blood, Allain said. The prosecutor did not say how long the attack lasted, but the daughter rushed out of the house screaming at about 6:46 p.m. and called police from a cellphone.

Burlington police found Pulisciano’s lifeless body on the floor, between the bed and a wall.

Piantedosi fled in a brown Honda Civic, police said, and he became the focus of a manhunt. Authorities rushed to Leominster some time later after they tracked the suspect’s cellphone signal. The phone and the blood-saturated sweatshirt had been discarded in a dumpster there.


By midafternoon on Friday, as investigators gathered what they called a“significant’’ amount of evidence from the house, including both weapons allegedly used, Piantedosi drove into the parking lot of the State Police Weston barracks, remaining in his car for a while before troopers recognized him.

Police searched the car. Visible on the dashboard were two handwritten notes, one reading “unarmed, just have to sleep,’’ and the other contained an apparent account, in the defendant’s own words, of how the attack unfolded, they said.

“I put knife on table, continued talking, she grabbed again, I grabbed the bigger one, went at it in front of daughter, no, no, no,’’ Allain read from a police report.

Jody Shapiro, a state psychiatrist who evaluated the defendant, testified during the arraignment that Piantedosi had previously been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and last month had attempted suicide,after which he was sent to a mental health treatment facility.

On Wednesday, a day prior to the attack, he was released from the facility with a prescription for antidepressants, Shapiro said.

A man who lives next to the victim’s house and requested that only his first name, Dan, be published, said he saw Piantedosi standing in front of the Forbes Avenue house several weeks ago. He said that when Pulisciano drove up, she was visibly upset, slammed her car door, and rushed inside without saying a word to Piantedosi.


“I thought it was very strange, very unusual,’’ said the neighbor. “I had never seen them like that before.’’

The defendant’s father and uncle attended the arraignment.

“Something happened, we don’t know. . . . I just wanted to be here for him and my brother,’’ said Pasquale Piantedosi, the uncle, as he left the courthouse after the arraignment.

Last year, Piantedosi reportedly stole a New Hampshire woman’s wallet, GPS device, and $90 in cash, but later returned the items with a lengthy letter of apology to the victim.

His letter was signed, “Stupid,’’ according to the Manchester Union Leader.

He pleaded guilty in September to a misdemeanor in that case and was given a 30-day suspended sentence. He told the newspaper he was having trouble finding work because prospective employers read news accounts of his case and chose not to hire him.

Brian R. Ballou can be reached at