Adrienne Shelly’s widower confronts her killer in new doc

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Andy Ostroy cherishes photos taken of his daughter Sophie over the years. They capture milestones in his life: his first day at school, victories at football and even his attempt to ride a bicycle without training wheels.

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In a heartwarming scene from “Adrienne,” the documentary — which premiered Wednesday on HBO — directed by Ostroy about his late wife, actress Adrienne Shelley, he shows some of those photos of the man who Sophie’s mother was murdered when the girl was just two years old.

“Adrienne missed a lot,” Ostroy told Diego Pilko during an emotionally charged visit to the killer’s prison in New York.


Dropping images of Sophie in turn on a table, he describes each one in detail. “It’s his first birthday since his mother left him,” notes Ostroy.

The shocking death of rising star Adrienne Shelley was reported on the front page of The Post on November 3, 2006.

The next picture he holds in front of the prisoner shows Sophie as a teenager, laughing as she eats a piece of cake. “Her most recent birthday – still no mom.”

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It’s impossible to tell whether Pilko has been affected by Ostroy’s remarks, as the 34-year-old former construction worker remains impassioned the entire time. Finally, on his way back to his cell, he hums the words “I’m sorry” in Spanish.

As Ostroy later admitted: “My life will always be about grief. He will always be the ghost in the room. The love that was in me at that time has not gone anywhere. Got stuck. It’s like it’s frozen in time.”

The documentary finds that Shelley’s personal life and career could not have been happier, busier, or more promising than when Shelley was executed on November 1, 2006, at the age of 40.

The Queens-born actress, writer and director, who married Ostroy 12 years earlier, starred in more than 20 films. They ranged from indie productions such as 1989’s “The Unbelievable Truth” to more mainstream films such as 2005’s “Factotum” alongside Matt Dillon, Lily Taylor and Marisa Tomei.

Sadly, Shelley didn’t live to see the breakthrough success of her obsessive project, “Waitress”—the quirky play she wrote, directed, and co-starred with Keri Russell. The film was released a year after her assassination to critical acclaim and has since been adapted into a hit Broadway musical.

Shelley, who lived with Ostroy and Sophie on Warrick Street, did most of her writing in the nearby Abingdon Square apartment she rented, not far from the family home.

Pilco, then a 19-year-old illegal immigrant from Ecuador, was helping renovate another apartment in the building in November 2006.

Shelly with daughter Sophie, who was just a child at the time of the actress’s murder.

In the documentary, he tells Ostroy through a translator that he “needs the money” and was wandering in search of property and cash and other things to steal. He broke into Shelly’s office and rifled through her purse, only to be caught red-handed by her five-foot-two-inch mother.

“The lady came out and she ran after me,” Pillow recalls on camera, not sparing any terrifying details as Shelley’s widower listens in horror. “And when he started yelling at me, I only heard him say ‘cop’.

As Shelly went to confiscate her phone, she said, he grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth and asked her not to call the police.

Style at Abingdon Square in the West Village.
Style at Abingdon Square in the West Village. She was killed in a nearby apartment that she used to house an office.
New York Post

“I lost it and I was holding it with my hand,” continues the killer, who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 25 years for his crimes. “At the same time, I was covering his mouth so that he would not make noise. I took my hand off and let it go.”

Ostroy and the translator both look in denial as Pilko recounts how he knew the actress was dead: “I saw her lips were blue so I thought: ‘Oh, I killed her.

Pilko recounts how he dragged Shelley into the bathroom and made a noose out of a bedsheet—then hung it from the rail of the shower curtain to make it “look like she committed suicide.”

After a long pause, Ostroy leans forward and asks: “Do you think you got away with it?”

“Yes,” answers Pilco.

But he had not. Detectives at first claimed Shelly had taken her own life, but this was quickly challenged by Ostroy and other family members, who refused to believe it.

Shelly was born on June 24, 1996, in Queens and raised alongside two brothers. Her father, Sheldon Levine, died suddenly when she was 12 years old. A talented singer and dancer, she began performing at the age of 10—and later dropped out of Boston University to pursue acting in Manhattan. Shelley’s breakthrough role came in 1989 in independent filmmaker Hal Hartley’s “The Unbelievable Truth”, which led to other simpler roles in indie films.

Shelly’s mother, Elaine Langbaum, remembers in the documentary that she was unable to accept that her daughter had committed suicide.

The genre's passion was project writing, directing, and starring in "Waitress."
The passion of the genre was writing, directing and starring in the project “Waitress”.
Granthshala Searchlight

“It was the time of his life,” Langbaum says, referring to Shelley to Sophie, whom he fathered when he was 38. “It was that time – that time she wanted her whole life. And she wanted to kill herself?”

But Pilco was quickly framed for murder. Detectives found a shoe print in Shelley’s bathtub that was similar to one discovered in the dust of the apartment below—and the treatment matched Pilco’s sneakers. After he was arrested, and was arrested, he confessed within hours.

Retired NYPD homicide detective Irma Rivera-Duffy, who became a friend of Shelley’s family and appears in the documentary, revealed that Pilco confessed to her crime when she told him that the victim’s child was the same age as her own niece. Was.

“When I got the confession, while driving in my car, I got a nice freezing cold on the back of my neck and hair,” Rivera-Duffy told Ostroy in the documentary. ,[I] Got up and thought it was your wife thanking me that this guy confessed so that your daughter doesn’t have to go through life thinking it was suicide. ,

Ostroy, a former actor who is now the co-founder of a marketing services company, recalls how he “lost control of my body and fell to the floor and started crying” when the lead detective told him about Pillow’s confession. I told.

“It was everything I wanted to hear,” he says. “There was no way Adrienne killed herself. Suicide just wasn’t possible. She was the happiest I ever saw her.”

Diego Pilco admitted to murdering Adrienne Shelley when he threatened to call the police after she grabbed him through his belongings.
Diego Pilco pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the death of Adrienne Shelley and is now serving a 25-year prison sentence.

The documentary begins with a home video recorded at a low-key Halloween party with friends on October 31, 2006. It features two-year-old Sophie in a princess dress and Shelley noting that the child’s favorite song is “Twist and Shout”. ,

“Every terrible day in history is a happier day than ever before,” Ostroy theorizes in the film. “This [Halloween] was ours. I went to bed that night as the luckiest person alive. By the next night, I was having the worst nightmare imaginable.”

Now 62, he was immediately reminded of both the dramatic and the seemingly insignificant details of November 1, 2006. He was grateful that he left home later than usual for the office and spent a little more time with his family. Then he dropped Shelley off at Abingdon Square before leaving for her workplace.

“I saw him walk into the building and that was the last time I saw him,” he says.

Widowed husband XXXX and daughter XXX look at the high school yearbook with Shelley.
Widowers look at the high school yearbook of Andy Ostroy and daughter Sophie Shelley.

Ostroy had a busy day at work, but he says there was unusual “radio silence” on the part of his wife, so that he could not reach him by email, cell or landline. Even his grandmother had not heard from him. “It was incredibly unusual,” he said. ,[I had] The intuition that something really terrible has happened.”

In the afternoon a close friend took her to Adrienne’s building. When his wife did not answer the intercom, he went to the apartment and found the door open. “It was just open, and that’s when the real panic started,” Ostroy says. “It was just noticeable. It was weird how the room was still and CNN was on and Wolf Blitzer was talking.

As he passed through the dreadful place to look for his wife, it seemed that black forces were at work. “It looked like there was evil in that room,” he said. “Actually, that’s what I felt. I thought there was a monster in the room.”

Then he found his body in the bathroom.

Andy Ostroy and Adrienne Shelley during their visit to Paris.
Ostroy and Shelley in Paris.

“I remember thinking in that moment: ‘Is this really happening?’ I had to go there to find him [Adrienne] Saying out, ‘Oh Andy, I’m so sorry,'” he recalls. “I shouldn’t have found him dead.”

And then he had to explain to little Sophie why her mother was no longer there. “I mean what do you call that kid who can’t handle much?” he asks. Finally, he said to the child: “Mother is dead. His body stopped working. She’s not coming home now.”

Tearing into the documentary, Ostroy recalled Sophie’s sad reaction. “She went to the window and turned to me and said: ‘Mom is dead. She is not coming back.’ And I said, ‘No, she’s not coming back.’ And she just went out the window and that’s it.

Ostroy described having some “really dark moments” after his wife’s death when he would crawl into Shelley’s closet and wrap himself in her clothes to feel closer to her. But he knew he had to carry it along for the sake of his daughter.

Shelly poses for the photo.  Years later, his daughter, XXX, recreates the shot in memory of her mother.
Fifteen years after her mother’s death, Sophie (right) recreated the stylized pose in front of the Moulin Rouge.
HBO (2)

“All of a sudden, a routine started and I just saw [Sophie] And promised her that she would grow up happy and healthy,” he says in the documentary. “We’re a team and we’re going to be fine.”

Still, he couldn’t help obsess about Pillow’s criminal psyche. In 2011, Ostroy wrote to the killer, who sent him a lengthy letter of apology in response. It was only after he resolved to make a documentary to celebrate Shelley’s legacy, that the widower decided to visit Pillow in prison.

On the morning of Pillow’s visit to the Catskills prison, Ostroy receives an encouraging talk from Sophie. Interviewed in the film, the now 15-year-old says of her mother, “Every time I think of her, I think of her. [Pillco] Too much.” Growing up, she would often question her father about the intricacies of what had happened on November 1, 2006, as he tried to come to terms with his loss.

“I want her [Pillco] To shed light on stuff and accept what he did and who he took and the consequences,” Ostroy says on the drive to prison. Then he manages some dark humor: “It would be funny if I did whatever Said he go out the window and I go in some fucking rage and get me out of there.”

Shelly was killed in her apartment in the West Village.  After killing her, Pilko tries to make it look like a suicide.  Neighbors left flowers at his door.
Shelley’s building in the West Village, where Pilko tries to make her death look like a suicide.
Robert Miller; William Farrington

It did not happen. After hearing Pilko’s account about the murder—before the killer’s claim that he was “never the aggressor”—Ostroy looks him in the eye.

“I want you to know that you took a wife, you took someone I was madly in love with and you took a mother,” Ostroy tells Pilko. Then he hands over another picture, this time of Sophie and Shelly together.

“She’s my daughter with her mother,” he says. “They have nothing else. And they had everything.”


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