Update: Adrienne Shelly's death

9191__adrienne_lLast it was reported that actress, director, and Hal Hartley muse Adrienne Shelly had committed suicide in her Greenwich Village apartment. The news was baffling: Shelly’s indie film career was steaming along. She had a 3-year-old daughter. Her husband said he’d seen no hint of depression and contended that the woman he knew would never have killed herself. 

Apparently, she didn’t. A 19-year-old construction worker was arrested and charged yesterday with Shelly’s murder, after what police say was an altercation over noise — or what New Yorkers call “a normal morning.” Shelly complained about the construction next door, and, according to police, the worker snapped and struck her in the face — then made it look like she’d hanged herself. (Though inquiries continue, several investigators told the New York Times that the worker has admitted to the crime.)

Who is the suspect? You’ve heard it before: A kid, quiet, considerate, sent money home to his parents in Ecuador. It would appear he just suddenly, inexplicably exploded, his humanity vanishing in a flash of rage. No sex, no drama, and no titillating third-act Law & Order twist — apparently, just two strangers colliding, with fatal and meaningless results. It’s the sort of horror we have the most trouble processing: the random and banal.

addCredit(“Adrienne Shelly: Evan Agostini/Getty Images”)


Comments (34 total) Add your comment
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  • Lil

    Thank god he confessed!

  • Ed

    Wow, what a wierd story.
    I’m glad too he that he did confess because we would have had another Marilyn Monroe mystery.

  • marykate

    Am I a terrible person because this is the first time that I have heard about this story… and about this actress?

  • dre

    How awful that this woman was murdered. When I saw the first reports of her death, how her husband and family insisted she wouldn’t kill herself, I just knew that she hadn’t. I’m glad they found the person who is responsible. However, it is quite likely inaccurate to imply that the suspect was a normal kid who never did anything violent until he suddenly snapped. That doesn’t happen. The people saying he was quiet and considerate simply don’t know him very well. The kid probably has a history of violent and/or controlling behaviour that will be uncovered later in the investigation.

  • Anna

    I know they always say they thought the guy was quiet, considerate, etc. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that he has a history of violence. It’s also likely that he’d been dealing with a lot of problems and she was, unfortunately, around when he finally snapped.

  • Baco Noir

    Many years ago when I was a film critic (the 1980s), I got the chance to interview Adrienne Shelley. She was sweet and kind and I’m quite saddened by this news. A good friend of mine also dated her for a time around the same era. Haven’t heard from him yet, but I’m frankly gutted.

  • Miles

    “A kid, quiet, considerate, sent money home to his parents in Ecuador.”
    I am hispanic, so please don’t take this as racism, but does this person have a criminal record in Ecuador. A person with a violent streak such as the one described does not just commit one crime.
    America, the land of the free… but sometimes is a cost to its good citizens.

  • Denise

    If this guy hit her hard enough in the face to kill her, wouldn’t the police have noticed some sort of bruising on her face? To have originally classified this as a suicide seems ridiculous and demeaning to the poor woman who lost her life to violence.

  • Alyson

    I think “meaningless” is a poor choice of words. “Senseless,” yes, but not meaningless.

  • Martha

    What a tragic story. My condolences to Ms. Shelly’s husband and daughter.

  • Talking Moviezzz

    Marykate,
    If you haven’t heard of Adrienne Shelly, do yourself a favor and run out and rent her first film THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH. One of my all time favorite performances. Or TRUST (which isn’t on DVD).
    She was a great actress. This is just an extremely sad story.

  • amy

    I agree with Alyson. Meaningless is definitely the wrong choice of words. I’m sure to her husband and child, Adrienne’s death is not meaningless.
    I have seen Adrienne Shelly in movies before and thought she was a good actress. It’s a shame that her life was cut short.

  • Alice

    I live in NY. It is a horrible place filled with horrible nasty self-serving monsters. People drive like they WANT to kill you. Neighbors regard eachother with disdain and hatred and fear. I hope to transfer out of here very soon. The only thing that is surprising about this poor young mother’s horrific death is how unsurprising it is in NY.

  • Silas Bent

    Hey, that’s not fair, at all. This city to me is the most cordial. When you do nice things for people, like out of manners and graciousness, they are so happy. I am talking about holding the door open for people, or helping mothers carry their carriages up subway stairs, and the like. I particularly will recall an incident last week when a woman had a seizure on the uptown 1 train, and a small group of us helped her out. Now, yes, there was a lot of callous behavior around. But there is good, and if you don’t find it, you’re looking wrong.

  • Fatima

    Tragic.
    But also, nice job Scott Brown.

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