July 27th, 2009
12:16 PM ET

Mary Jo Buttafuoco: Joey’s a “sociopath”


Mary Jo Buttafuoco in a 2000 photograph with her husband, Joey, outside Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills, CA.

Mary Jo Buttafuoco in a 2000 photograph with her husband, Joey, outside Spago restaurant in Beverly Hills, CA.

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Mary Jo Buttafuoco never thought it was funny. “I was furious for a long time,” she told CNN. “I’m an almost murder victim, and jokes are being made? It was unbelievable.”

Unbelievable, but true. How and why her husband’s teenage mistress put a bullet in her head became fodder for the tabloids and a running gag for late night comics. Now, close to two decades after her near fatal encounter with Amy Fisher, the so-called “Long Island Lolita,” Buttafuoco has found peace. “My life is good, it’s calm,” she said.

That tranquility didn’t happen overnight. And it wasn’t easy. She admits to years of soul-searching, an addiction to pain killers and denial about the high school sweetheart she married and defended. As she tells it, Joey Buttafuoco is much more than a punch-line or a cheating spouse. In her words, “he’s a sociopath.”

Buttafuoco is putting her ordeal on paper. In her new book “Getting It Through My Thick Skull” she details how she reclaimed her life after almost losing it. “This story is not about Joey and Amy,” she explained. “It’s more to me about learning lessons and moving forward and inspiring people.”

Those lessons began violently and unexpectedly on May 19, 1992.

“I remember it so well, the way the day smelled, the air…I remember all of it up until the moment I got shot,” Mary Jo recalled.

On that bright Tuesday morning, Mary Jo Buttafuoco was painting a bench on the backyard deck of the Massapequa home she shared with husband and their son and daughter. The ring of the bell sent her to the front door. There, on the steps, was a girl who called herself Anne Marie. The teenager confronted her, claiming Joey Buttafuoco was sleeping with her younger sister. “Don’t you think it’s disgusting that a 40-year-old man is having sex with a 16-year-old girl?” she asked.

Mary Jo Buttafuoco was annoyed, both at what she was hearing, and especially, at her husband, wondering what the “big, overgrown kid” might be up to. She told the teen “thanks for coming by” and turned around. The last thing she remembered was the blast to the right side of her head.

“There was no indication, even to this day, that I had anything to fear,” Buttafuoco said about the encounter that ended in bloodshed.

Within days, the story was plastered on headlines and on talk shows. The country soon learned that Anne Marie was Amy Fisher, a 19-year-old woman who had been having an affair with Joey Buttafuoco. Fisher pleaded guilty to assault and spent several years in prison.

As for Mary Jo, Buttafuoco, she was lucky to be alive. The bullet ripped apart her jawbone, cut into her carotid artery and left the right side of her face paralyzed. Throughout her long recovery, she was convinced her husband was telling the truth. “I believed him when he said he had nothing to do with Amy Fisher,” Buttafuoco said.

But slowly, the realization set in. The man she adored and the father of their children was, in her eyes, unfaithful, untrustworthy, and a con-artist.

She said her son, Paul, was the first to put that shocking label “sociopath” on his dad. According to Buttafuoco, “Paul said he’s never going to stop and he’s never going to get it, because he’s a sociopath. And I couldn’t get my head around the word because I thought sociopaths were murderers.”

After researching the term, she concluded that the definition was accurate. “He’s not a violent sociopath but a very cunning and conniving sociopath,” Buttafuoco stated. “There is a part of him that could be a nice man, but it hides the things he does.”

Reached by telephone, Joey Buttafuoco was quick to respond to the accusation. “Words from an ex-wife,” he told CNN. “That’s why they’re ex’s. I’m no angel, but this is going to be interesting to see how it plays out, especially when my lawyers advise.”

Joey Buttafuoco, who said he works in recovery with drug-addicted children and adults, insisted her book is “insanity” and “full of inaccuracies.” “I thought this book was about survivorship. It winds up being about the same old tabloid sensationalized stuff,” he asserted. “Honestly, I would much rather have been diagnosed by a professional doctor than diagnosed as a sociopath by my ex-wife.”

After divorcing Joey Buttafuoco and moving to California, Mary Jo Buttafuoco remarried. She said “my life is so different. The life that I have know is what I wanted with Joey. I wanted peace and quiet and a normal person and that’s what I have.”

Buttafuoco has a new love and a new life, but her struggles were far from over. She developed a dependency to pain killers. Only after being treated at the Betty Ford Clinic was she able to break the habit.

The saga for all three players in this sordid tale continues to this day. Joey Buttafuoco, who also resides in California, told CNN he’s working on a book of his own.

“I have a hell of a story to tell and a hell of a story to share,” he boasted. “My book is going to be nothing but the truth, the whole truth, so help me God.”

Amy Fisher keeps her name in the news largely by allegedly pitching a sex tape and by reportedly working as a stripper. “I’m kind of disappointed in the paths that she has taken” Mary Jo Buttafuoco said of Fisher. In an email to CNN, Amy Fisher's husband, Lou Bellera, said Fisher "has no comment about the book but wishes the best of success for Mary Jo in her endeavor."

Buttafuoco hopes her autobiography strikes a chord with people who are “caught in the cycle of toxic relationships.” And she’s prepared for anything. “This is now on my terms,” she said. “I’m a lot older and I’m ready for this.”

For more crime coverage go to cnn.com/crime.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. B

    I don't know what is worse the story itself or all the comments that are spelled wrong

    July 28, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  2. docb

    i think the reason she is writting the book and keeping Joeys' last name is the money. So what!! Hell, after what she's been thru she deserves every buck she can get. Who out there wouldn't do the same thing when you see 7 figures staring you in the face.

    July 28, 2009 at 10:00 am |
  3. angela

    Um, all you people that are griping about CNN covering this story, YOU COULD HAVE SKIPPED THE ARTICLE. Geez, if you don't wanna hear any more about it, then don't read it.

    July 28, 2009 at 9:50 am |
  4. LTJ

    Mary Jo is intending to help others with her story–No one should be judging–this is America–let's wish her well & hope that other women in this situation get the help they need.As for Joey,he has some nerve to say he will write a book too,then again this is America.....free speech !!

    July 28, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  5. Annie Kate

    I hope Mary Jo's book makes out well and that Joey is not able to get a dime from it. Good luck to Mary Jo – being able to finally leave this behind you is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

    July 27, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  6. J Williamson

    I'm disappointed to see so many attacks on Mary Jo – this woman wasn't having an affair with a 16 year-old girl, her husband was! She got shot in the face and will live with those physical and mental scars for the rest of her life. Her message about self-love and letting go is very much needed in the world today. I wish Mary Jo all the best – Joey's statement about "truth" is laughable and underscores what a big cartoon character he is.

    July 27, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  7. Prancer


    End of book.

    July 27, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  8. Angela, AZ

    Is this really news?

    July 27, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  9. Faye

    I'm glad she wrote the book. I'm glad her life is better now. Joey is a poor example of a human being. Same with Amy. I do understand why Mary Jo stood by him though, as I was taught to believe the same way. I do hope this makes her some money and a little comfort. Sometimes people just need to get it out and it needs to be said. Maybe some other woman can learn from her book, and learn not to accept the unacceptable, nor to raise their daughters that way.

    July 27, 2009 at 3:54 pm |
  10. Christina

    Why is everyone commenting that this story is not newsworthy and nobody cares when obviously we are all reading and responding? Journalism 101: A story is newsworthy if it is strange, out of the ordinary or weird. This story, even with all of its sensationalism, was definitely newsworthy at the time it happened and it is still relevant today.

    July 27, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  11. Robin

    I agree with those who say MJ deserves, peace, happiness, and a great life. She was an innocent party here. and.....Yes, she was in denial over her husband's actions, but who wouldn't be? Who wants to believe your husband in working with another to consipire to kill you.?

    You reap what you sow... Let Amy and Joey reap disaster, since they have not changed, and MJ reap a new life.

    Live and Let Live!

    July 27, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  12. ladyofargonne

    { “I’m kind of disappointed in the paths that she has taken” Mary Jo Buttafuoco said of Fisher.}

    I would have thought this was all BS if I didn't read this line. Mary Jo has grown into a wise woman.

    July 27, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  13. JenniferJustice

    I agree w/Plantsonly – For those out there being harsh, you have to realize that not only did she invest her whole life in this fool and had children to think about, but she was so injured physically, she needed his help. I am usually pretty intolerable when it comes to women who stay with cheaters, but in her case, I can see how badly she wanted to believe and keep him. This is somebody who had to learn to walk and talk all over again. She couldn't get around by herself at first and she had serious deficit problems. She was probably doped up half the time to numb the pain and staggering around, couldn't bathe herself, couldn't cook, couldn't do anything for herself. It's probably the best behaved he ever was because he felt guilty as he should have. Here she is with her head shaved, swollen and bruised, and completely dependent, scared, sick, hurting and ashamed of how she looked. She needed somebody and he was there. Sadly, he did not deserve her need for him.

    July 27, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  14. Joanne R. Pacicca

    It is interesting to read that most people feel Mary Jo's experience is so far divorced from everyday life, much less the social pathology of the people involved. All of this is next door or right around the corner minus Amy Fisher. It should be a healing experience for Mary Jo, and a reality check for others. Good for her.

    July 27, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  15. JenniferJustice

    The last thing Joey should be allowed to do is work in recovery with drug-addicted children and adults. Since when do former mechanics who've committed statutory rape qualify as drug counselors? I can't believe any credible rehabilitation program would hire or even accept volunteer work from this man! You've got to be kidding me! He should be denied interaction with all children, but especially vulnerable ones. That creep is consoling teenaged girls from broken homes who have drug problems? And all from his heart because he's such a compassionate guy! Disgusting!

    July 27, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  16. plantsonly

    Some comments I've read are cruel. I remember this story and how it played out for all parties. MJ loved her husband and stood by him and it's taken years for her to come to grips with the reality of the type of man she loved and married. It's easy for the rest of "us" to sit by and judge this woman and what she is trying to do now with her book. For some of us it takes many years to come to terms with the events that shaped our lives. Have a good life Mary Jo.

    July 27, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  17. Libra girl

    But......she defended this creep for sooooo long, its hard to watch her have issues with him now. Some girl shows up on her porch to shoot her, and she thought it was random? Come on.

    Common sense would have told me different in about a minute. Glad she is doing better these days.

    July 27, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  18. kewlygirl

    I think Mary Jo deserves to be heard. We listened to all the glorification of the other two slime bags for so long that their names are instantly recognized. Let's let Mary Jo regain her self by speaking out and helping others. Many people gain the courage to lift the veils of denial by learning through other's mistakes. It is important because many women get stuck and this is a way to empower them.

    Then let this story DIE.

    July 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  19. kaitlin

    Who was the copy-writer for this piece? Was there one?

    There are a **lot** of typos and mispellings. CNN, you can do better than this.

    July 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  20. gina1

    Such a sad tale that NEVER goes away. Mary Jo, let it go. I saw Amy on a talk show with her husband a few years ago. I don't think she is into stripping and selling sex tapes. Mary Jo, didn't you embrace Amy for a few years a few years ago?I guess if you need money, don't get a job or disability, write a book!

    July 27, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  21. Gilby-HI

    CNN your new coverage of the most important new stories is wonderful and so inlightening. No wonder you are where you are in the rateings.

    July 27, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  22. lil

    Goodf for her, she is letting go of the past. Now if she could only get rid of his money making name....
    Things that make you go Hmmmmm....

    July 27, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  23. Mari

    Tabloid news CNN!

    July 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  24. Heather,ca

    I remeber when they were on Donohue (remember him)and a women in the audience said to Mary Jo"If it what likes a duck, talks likes duck and acts like duck its a duck. Mary Jo responded in a very angry defensive tone. It was clear then to us she was in denial. I'm sure she had been trying to rationalize something that was not rational. It seems very clear for Joey to do what had done that the marriage wasn't healthy for a very long time prior and this was just the culmination of all that. Its not surprising in any way that she became addicted to pain meds. She had endured years of emotional pain silently and tried maintained the appearance of a strong marriage despite the bullet of truth and then the realization of all the pain both physical and depression. Its not at all a surprise. I hope she is able one and for all to take a moment in her life that became a tabloid topic and give it the honesty and truth she wasn't able to acknowledge.

    July 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  25. Melissa

    Is this a typo: "The life that I have know is what I wanted with Joey" ??

    July 27, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  26. AndyF

    Ah, the good old American dream made real...

    Marry an idiot, who cheats on you with an idiot, and then that idiot shoots and almost kills you, and then the idiots at the tabloids embrace, enhance, and celebrate this idiocy, and here – years later we get told that the primary idiot is a sociopath.

    Whoa! What a shock! You mean an idiot with serious idiot problems? Wow, such a shock...

    ...and just when I was going to model my life after the Biggest Idiot of the last Century, Joey Buttafucco....

    Oh well, thank God the tabloids and television provide countless idiots that we can all proudly live our lives after!

    July 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  27. JoJo

    I lived on Long Island when this was happening and I wasn't too much younger than Amy Fisher. It was a nightmare! For years after I left the island everyone asked if I knew Amy.
    I feel AWFUL for Mary Jo, always have. I am glad that she has finally found a way to give herself an outlet. Joey will try to sue her but what else is new? He just wants some money from her. I wish her well and for those who have a problem with this all I can say is, if you don't like it don't read it.

    July 27, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  28. IndyGena

    The only reason this is still a story is so both of them money grubbing, sociopaths (yes, both of them) can promote their boring a** books. Who cares anymore, really!?

    July 27, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  29. pistachio

    What was she still doing with him in 2000 in that picture? First of all who would stay married to any man who put his hands on another woman. People need to have enough self respect not to put up with that and to tell themselves they are too good for that person. He deserved to lose his home, wife and kids when she got shot. He is a clown, and who would want to read a book he writes. What a joke!!!

    July 27, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  30. Sonia

    Duh, yeah think...go away already, please!

    July 27, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  31. Brent

    If she's moved on and wants nothing to do with Joey, why does she still keep his last name? Perhaps, it has the potential of bringing her $$$. The players in this story need to get over themselves. How they became celebs, I'll never figure out.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  32. paula

    I live on Long Island and remember living with this disaster!! I thought that this drama had burned itself out. But no, every so often Joey or Amy or both come out with some trashy behaviou and the media jumps all over it. My hope for Mary Jo is that this book does not stoop to that level and that she can move on AND

    July 27, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  33. JMarie

    Glad your cleansing your sould. Sometimes it takes years to set yourself free. They say love is blind, Im so glad after so many years you too can see what a joke your ex is. I wish you the best, and YES, this book IS important. The biggest "care of the day" is the one that is best for you, not the stock market. Im glad you wrote this book. It may just help others.
    Thanks Mary Jo

    July 27, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  34. Judy

    My heart goes out to Mary Jo, and I too hope she makes a fortune off of her book. The one question I have is WHY is she still using the last name of that sociopath??!! The story says that she has remarried, either take his last name or go back to your maiden name.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  35. Ras Disputin

    3 misfits !

    July 27, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  36. Morgan

    Agreed with why is this still in the news. Why are people in such need of media attention?

    July 27, 2009 at 10:34 am |
  37. rita higgins

    I would like to know if she is using this just to make money from the book. All of this should have flowed through her mind not a pen. Joey has moved on and is enjoying life so to speak and Mary Jo should do the same. LET GO GIRL.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  38. wow

    yes bad things happen to her , get over it read the prayer of serenity good luck

    July 27, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  39. Brad

    Who cares? Why does CNN peddle such crap? Get on with the news and stop contributing to the decline of our news culture.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  40. Kenyetta B.

    @Lorna Love – You're totally on the wrong page.

    @john-exactly what I was thinking.

    And who wants to see Amy Fisher strip?? Guess prison didn't changer her love of the quick cash. She still is using her body to get money and things she wants. It's sad.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  41. Deb

    There are so many important issues facing this country that we need to be in touch with...a 20 year old solved crime is not one of them...let Mary Jo, who was really a victim, have her say and let it go. As for the ex-husband sociopath is a nice way of describing him...I could think of a lot worse things to call him but why bother...he knows what he is.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  42. JT

    Gee MJ, we ALL knew the guy was a socio-path. Sorry it took you having such a hard time to learn the truth. Sociopaths are the best liars, con-artists and manipulators there are. While there are some who are violent, I think the majority use their "skills" to manipulate others to do the dirty work for them.
    Good luck wtih your book. I know it has to be very cathartic to write it, and come face to face with your demons. I hope you sell a gazillioin, make a ton of money and then have a great rest of your life. Look st the other 2 players in this drama....it's called karma MJ, karma.....

    July 27, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  43. Sandra

    This has got to be the saddest, oddest, biggest ball of stupid that I have seen in a while.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  44. john

    Why is this still a story?

    July 27, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  45. Leslie Leblanc-Palmer

    I think writing can be a way of cleansing the soul of good or bad memories that are painful and life altering. I think that whatever way Mary Jo can move this out of her life is what she should do. Remember, while America watched this tabloid story play out, she lived the starring role and it was not one of her choice.
    Mary Jo let it out sweetie and then turn the page. You are the better person in this story and that's what counts.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:03 am |