Jessie Buttafuoco can still vividly recall the moment when she learned her mother had been shot.
The 35-year-old revisited the infamous 1992 case of Amy Fisher, who was coined “the Long Island Lolita” by the press. Fisher was a 16-year-old high school student when she began an affair with then-36-year-old Joey Buttafuoco, an auto-body repairman and father of two children. At age 17, she went to the Buttafuoco home in Massapequa packing a .25 caliber gun.
Fisher rang the doorbell and pulled the trigger, leaving 37-year-old Mary Jo Buttafuoco bleeding and lying unconscious with a bullet hole in her face.
Lawyers depicted Fisher as so lovesick, she planned the slaying in a jealous rage. The investigation launched a media frenzy that resulted in three made-for-TV films starring Noelle Parker, Alyssa Milano and Drew Barrymore as the murderous teenage temptress.
“I didn’t find out that she was shot until a few days after,” Jessie recalled on “The Dr. Oz Show” Tuesday. “Now, as an adult looking back, what do you tell a nine-year-old child, when they didn’t even know what was going on at the time? So they had told me that she’s fallen on a nail while painting in the backyard. And I was at school, and I was about to audition for my third grade play that I was about to slay, and I got a phone call that said I needed to get picked up early.”
Jessie said she knew something was wrong when she saw the facial expressions of her aunt and uncle.
“When I asked where she was, no one would tell me and everyone just looked terrified,” she said. “Every adult around, every aunt, every uncle, anybody that was there looked just completely terrified and confused. And I just remember looking around and having this feeling that something is really wrong here. No one’s telling me why, and I’m not really believing this nail story.”
Mary Jo was left partially paralyzed on one side of her face and deaf in one ear. With surgery being too dangerous, the bullet remained lodged in her neck.
The severely injured matriarch admitted she felt guilt while recuperating from the near-fatal shooting.
“It saddens me and breaks my heart,” she said. “It breaks my heart because… I was like a schizophrenic in all those years when they were growing up. I was mom when they were around in our home and mom’s OK and mom’s great… Mom was a wreck. Mom was in pain and agony… It was chaotic.”
Still, Jessie insisted her mother was as hands-on as possible with her family, even while she was healing and coping with the public scandal that had rocked the media.
“… She was still taking me to soccer practice and dance class and showing up to my basketball games and my school performances,” said Jessie. “She was a mom. She made sure to be that.”
People Magazine reported Joey was indicted on 19 counts of statutory rape, sodomy and endangering the welfare of a child. While Joey initially pleaded not guilty, he later admitted to having sex with Fisher when she was 16. He spent four months in jail.
Fisher spent nearly seven years in prison and was released in 1999. The New York Times reported Mary Jo encouraged the judge to press for Fisher’s release.
Mary Jo divorced Joey in 2003 after 26 years of marriage. In 2010, she remarried. Mary Jo currently resides in California with her children and granddaughter nearby. Joey also tied the knot again in 2005.
In 2003, Fisher married Louis Bellera and the couple welcomed three children. In 2007, Fisher launched a career as a porn star but walked away from the industry in 2011. In 2015, she and Bellera called it quits.
Back in August, Mary Jo told Fox News her choice to forgive Fisher, now 44, was “years in the making.”
“For a long time… I hated her,” she explained. “I hated what she did, I hated that she came to my house, interrupted my life. The audacity of this punk to come and do this. The medication would shut me up… Then you get the anger again.
“In between, there’d be bouts of being OK. I had children to think of, so I never let them see me like that. It was after seven years I went to the Betty Ford Center because I was addicted. I was addicted to these drugs and I wanted to get off them. I had survived this gunshot wound, but I was now a drug addict if you will.”
Mary Jo said that it was during her time getting sober in rehab where she realized she wanted to let go.
“It was kind of there that through the program they said to me, ‘You know, Mary, you survived,’” she recalled. “You’re alive. Now, what do you want to do for the rest of your life? Are you going to feel like this for the rest of your life?’ It was a slow turnaround.
“I sobered up and I realized, ‘You’re right… I can’t feel like this anymore. I just can’t… I got to let you out of my head. I got to let you go because you’re killing me all over again. It sounds so cliché… [But] it’s just a process that when you have something like this, you have to move forward. To move forward you have to forgive. You have to.”