On Death Row: Todd Rizzo

–by Scanman1722

On May 13th, the Connecticut House voted to abolish the death penalty. Currently, 10 men sit in the prisons of our state awaiting execution. Below is part one in an occasional series telling the stories of the men whose fate now rest in the hands of the state Senate and governor.

Todd Rizzo used to be a babysitter. Violet Boisvert, one of the women Todd used to baby-sit for told a panel of judges that she never felt uncomfortable having him watch her kids or take them to the park. “He was very good to my children,” she recalled in 2005. Boisvert’s children became so fond of Todd that they began to call themselves the “Todd Squad.”1 To Boisvert and the other parents he came to know, Todd was just the average affectionate and trustworthy high school student. After one day in the fall of 1997, they would see Todd in a different light.

On September 30, 1997, Todd convinced a thirteen year old boy named Stanley Edwards IV to come into his backyard to hunt snakes. Once inside the yard, Todd proceeded to hit the boy 13 times with a 3-pound sledgehammer. When he was apprehended for the crime, the recently discharged Marine told police he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.1

Todd Joseph Rizzo was born on October 11, 1978. Perhaps Todd’s finest biographer is himself, for he provides a brief overview of a life cut short by crime on a website dedicated to death row inmates. “I was born in ’78 in Virginia but was raised in Connecticut. I’m a middle child of divorced parents: an Irish and English mother, a Sicilian father. I have completed a dozen years of education and had me a stint in the military after that. I am really into piercings and tattoos; I had seven of the former and have a large one of the latter.” 2

On the same website, which was last updated in June 2003, Todd lists his favorite bands as the hard rock acts Korn and Godsmack. But tattoos and metal were not always Todd’s interests. Perrin Markan, a childhood friend of Todd’s, testified that his friend had changed since there days of hanging out in middle school. During his junior year, Markan recalled, Todd dyed his hair black, watched violent movies, and developed an interest in serial killers. “I was hoping it was just a phase he would let go as time went on so I didn’t really make a big deal about it,” Markay told a journalist in 2003.1

In a 2005 article in the Waterbury Republican-American, a friend told the paper Todd thought that his fascination with killing would be subsided by serving in the Marines. It is logical to suggest the Marines, who train new recruits to be killing machines in the name of national defense, only enhanced Todd’s desire to kill. In July of 1997, in a scene one could picture in a Hollywood war movie, Todd and his fellow soldiers sat up one night on base wondering whether they could actually kill someone as they had been trained to do. John Fleischer, one of the Marines there that night, received a letter from Todd several weeks after the murder. The letter, which was used during Todd’s trial, read: “Well, let’s say, you might be reading about me one day. Just add me to your long list of famous killers, like Jeffrey Dahmer, Mr. John Gacy, Henry Lucas, and so on. Yes, from the news article inclosed (sic), you’ll learned (sic), I’ve been arrested for murdering a 13 yr old boy. I beat the backside of his skull in with a sledgehammer in my backyard and dropped his body on a side road w/his head wrapped in a plastic bag. So way back in July, when me, you, Jones and Sims talked about the truth if we could actually kill another person? Well, I did. That knocks off number two on my goal list.”3

Todd was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty in August 1999. In 2003, the Connecticut Supreme Court overturned the ruling on the grounds that the judge in his first trial did not issue proper instructions to the jury. He has since been returned to death row and, under Connecticut’s current law, is scheduled to die by way of lethal injection.

In April 2000, FOX 61’s Shelly Sindland conducted a revealing interview with Todd. Asked what the killing the boy was like, Todd explained: “When he got hit, it was like, taking a sip of beer and letting out air, like he got the wind knocked out of him. He turned around and spun around like a windmill. It was pitch black. I never saw myself killing him. It was pitch black.” He told Sindland he also smelt the boys blood for a “whole month.”3

Todd concluded his letter to Fleischer: “I am sorry for what I’ve done, because my life is now over. Im (sic) either facing life in prison with no parroll (sic) or the death sentence which in CT is lethal injection. Anyway, now that my life is through, How’s your’s doing?”3

Sources
1. http://www.crimezzz.net/serialkiller_news/R/RIZZO_todd_joseph.php
2. http://www.ccadp.org/toddrizzo.htm
3. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1407662/posts

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13 responses to “On Death Row: Todd Rizzo

  1. There is no doubt that those on death row have been convicted of unbelievably heinous crimes. Those of us who are opposed to the death penalty don’t necessarily harbor sympathy for these individuals, but we do not believe that the state should be in the business of killing people in revenge or retribution.

    Life in prison without the possibility of parole is no picnic, nor should it be. Killing is wrong – even those who many feel deserve it.

  2. With regard to the death penalty vote, I understand it is only prospective.

    Of the members who voted to repeal the death penalty, I presume someone must have offered an amendment to make the vote retroactive. If not, it seems to be something of less than a truly principled stance.

    Assuming that the amendment was offered, who supported it?

  3. Since we have 10 ready to go lets start some kind of contest, the state can sell tickets, each week someone is put to death. I bet we could at least get the $$$ spent on keeping these viruses alive.

  4. RepHolder-Winfield

    There was no amendment offered. The original bill was complete abolition but that bill would have gone nowhere. While I understand your point about the stance of the proponents of abolition there also comes a point where you have to realize the art of getting things done. Had we attempted to run a complete abolition bill we would be sitting with a dead – uncalled bill.

  5. Rep Holder Winfield, thanks.

  6. Joe Sixpack

    Rep. Holder-Winfield – Wouldn’t a prospective death penalty ban in effect be a retroactive one, as it would give all ten of the killers currently sitting on death row a new ground for appeals in that their Equal Protection rights are violated? That would be the “art” of getting something done in a round about, disingenuous way. And how it’s a pretty ironic end to your post – sitting with a “dead” “uncalled” bill – when the families of the victims of these killers are sitting around with a dead relative, waiting for an execution that will never be called…..

  7. The execution of a criminal will not assuage the victim’s family’s pain.

  8. Joe Sixpack

    The execution of a criminal will not assuage the victim’s family’s pain.

    Kim, unless you are a relative of one of Michael Ross’ victims, or of Mad Dog Taborsky’s victims, then frankly you have absolutely no right to say what will “assuage” their pain. You have no clue what they think or want. That you believe this is a wonderful thing that must help you sleep at night, but to import your beliefs onto the family’s of a murder victim killed in an absolutely heinous way is insulting.

    Go read Dr. Petit’s testimony before the Judiciry Committee on this bill and then go spew your feel good psycho babble to him.

  9. RepHolder-Winfield

    Joe:

    There is no attempt on my part to get around the system regardless of what you may think. Is it possible that what you suggest might happen – yes. As for Kim’s assertion and your retort it seems that you think that you can speak for victims as much as you indicate that she may be doing so. I would suggest to you that there were people on the floor of the house whose family member had been the victims of a murder who do not agree with you. Also, the Judiciary Committee of this state has done hearings for the family members of people who have been murdered and opinions vary. Dr. Petit is not the only voice he may be the only one we hearbut he is not the only voice.

    On another note this is not black and white as people like to paint it. There are those of us who struggle with our position on both sides of the issue. I am one of them. But I think that what we have done is the right thing. If you are interested I wrote a blog entry about it over at the New Haven Independent: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2009/05/abolition_and_c.php
    I have had occasion to speak with Dr. Petit so I know that he feels pain still but that informs me it does not determine what policy decisions I make.

  10. Joe Sixpack

    Rep. Holder-Winfield-

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the issue. I did have the opportunity to hear some of the debate in the House, and specifically heard Rep. Gonzalez talking about the murder of her stepson, and the grief her husband continues to go through. That they still oppose the death penalty is admirable, even if I do not agree with their deep felt opposition.

    In my response to Kim, I did not put my opinions on any relative of a murder victim – I am aware of Dr. Petit’s impassioned testimony in defense of the death penalty, so I merely threw his name out as someone who has stated that Kim’s opinion did not apply to him.

    And while it is important to have input from the family of the victim, there comes a point where the system must choose to take another path in punishment if what a victim or their family wants is not in the best interest of the public. If the family of a murder victim decided to forgive the killer and asked that they be spared any prison time, should the state abide by their wishes? I think we all agree that such forgiveness is a tremendous show of faith and compassion, but it does not relieve the state of the duty to protect the public AND punish the killer.

    But again, I respect your views in opposition and really respect your willingness to come here and debate it. And I respect Kim’s willingness to discuss her beliefs, i just do not respect her attempts to put them onto others.

  11. Joe Sixpack

    As for the unintended consequences of the prospective ban on the death penalty in effect eliminating the sentence for those already on death row, I am sure that it wasn’t the intention of most of those who voted for it. But my guess is Rep. Lawlor knows that such is the case.

  12. RepHolder-Winfield

    Joe:

    Thank you for the tone of your response. It is all to rare in these venues especially where this issue is concerned

  13. Wow, great exchange. I’m with Holder-Winfield on this one, but I’m partial to women who keep their maiden names!

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