Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

New Orleans Sportscaster Charged in Wife's Death

Murder in Old Metairie

Parking lot where Liz Marinello was fatally shot.
Parking lot where Liz Marinello was fatally shot.

At first it was an innocuous little story buried on the bottom of the first page of the "Metro" section of the Times-Picayune. "Woman is shot in face in Old Metairie parking lot," read the headline, while the subhead read, "Police seek man seen leaving on bicycle." The headline over the story's continuation on the next page read, "Robbery suspected as motive in attack."

By the next day, however, the headlines were telling a different story, this time on the newspaper's front page. Robbery, it turned out, was not the motive, unless it could be interpreted to mean that someone intended to rob someone else of their right to live. "Radio host questioned in wife's killing," the headline blared in bold, 48-point type. The subhead hinted at a bitter divorce between the victim and the alleged killer who was taken into custody for questioning.

Mary Elizabeth "Liz" Marinello
Mary Elizabeth "Liz" Marinello

When Mary Elizabeth "Liz" Marinello, 45, was gunned down in the parking lot of an office building in the affluent New Orleans suburb of Metairie on August 31, 2006, no one at the time would have believed that the scruffy-looking suspect seen riding off on a bicycle could be her estranged husband. Nonetheless, that's where the trail of evidence appeared to lead. And when the story began unfolding, many people in the New Orleans area went into shock.

Vince Marinello
Vince Marinello

Vince Marinello, 69, had been one of the most well-liked, well-respected on-air personalities in New Orleans for close to 40 years. His Ninth Ward "Yat" accent was familiar to two generations of New Orleanians, especially those who closely followed NFL's Saints and the thoroughbred racing scene at the Fair Grounds Race Course. His face had been a fixture on two major television stations for decades. When he was booked with his wife's murder on September 7, those who knew him both personally and from his on-air appearances simply couldn't believe it.

What could have prompted such a high-profile, well-paid, and seemingly well-off member of the New Orleans media corps to allegedly go off the deep end and allegedly commit the ultimate act of violence? Was it the stress caused by Hurricane Katrina's destruction just little more than a year earlier, as some have theorized? Was it anguish over losing a longtime home to rising floodwaters? Or was it a misguided belief that his celebrity status and connections in high places would elevate him above suspicion?

These and other questions will probably be answered in a court of law in the near future. But the real answers the real motives are likely to be far more grittier and nastier. The story began in happier times "pre-K," as New Orleanians have begun wistfully referring to the years before Katrina hit the city with unparalleled fury. A storybook romance that quickly went south, became a nightmare on a parallel with the hurricane itself.

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