Antoinette Venditti Bruce, Zachary Lapelusa: Lepelusa | Christmas Tree Shop Killer On ID’s The Killer Beside Me


Antoinette Venditti Bruce, 35, was murdered by former co-worker Zachary Lapelusa, aka Zachary Lepelusa, 24, on March 29, 2011, in Middletown, Rhode Island over a workplace dispute that began at the Christmas Tree Shops in Avon, Connecticut. The killer was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after serving 20 years. The television crime show The Killer Beside Me will profile the case in an episode titled “Danger Travels.”


The Killer Beside Me episode “Danger Travels”

After an employee develops a crush on his manager at a Christmas tree shop, he turns violent after his inappropriate behavior leads to his firing.


Antoinette Venditti Bruce and Zachary Lapelusa (Lepelusa) worked together at the charming Christmas Tree Top, where he developed a crush on her, but she had refused his advances. After that, they clashed frequently. However, Antoinette had no idea the workplace drama would lead to her death.


Prosecutors say after Zachary Lapelusa (Lepelusa) was fired he wanted revenge. And he got it the day he drove to Middletown, Rhode Island in broad daylight, and confronted Antoinette Venditti Bruce in the parking lot of the Marriott Residence Inn Hotel, where she was working temporarily. According to witnesses, there was a struggle before he shoved her in a car and took off. Investigators say he stabbed her numerous times and then drove to an auto body shop where he parked and stabbed her again. The autopsy report showed she was stabbed between 47 and 90 times, according to the Hartford Courant.



[second image via Facebook]

Once he knew she was dead, Zachary Lepelusa dumped Antoinette Venditti Bruce’s dead body in a drainage ditch off Hanging Rocks Road. Back at the hotel, witnesses called 911 and gave police a description of the killer. Zachary Lapelusa (Lepelusa) was captured during a high-speed car chase and foot chase. When police got a hold of him, they slapped him with a kidnapping and 1st-degree-murder charge.


Sadly, Antoinette Venditti Bruce left behind a husband, Christopher j. Bruce. In court, Zachary Lepelusa apologized for the killing, stating he knows he “ruined two families” lives that day. Antoinette’s family members say they’ll never forgive him for the heinous act he committed, an act that has forever changed their family, the New Haven Register reported.


third image via Facebook


A few comments from her obituary at Legacy.

“I worked with Antoinette for many years I just heard I’m lost for word’s I did’nt find out in time to pay my respect’s please no that she will alway’s be in pray’s.”

“So sorry for your loss she was a great person, just know she is at peace in a good place and watching over you all. my thoughts and prayers are with you.”


Today, there is a community Facebook page called In Loving Memory of Antoinette Venditti Bruce. Watch her story in The Killer Beside Me this Thursday at 10/9 p.m. Central on Investigation Discovery.

[Main image via Facebook]

Traciy Curry-Reyes

Traciy Curry-Reyes is the founder and editor-in-chief of TV Crime Sky. She began her career as a true crime & entertainment freelance writer in the 1990's for her website, The Movies Based on True Stories Database/Archives. She has contributed content to other websites, such as and Traciy also appears as a true-crime expert and commentator on TV One's Fatal Attraction, For My Man, and Justice by Any Means; Investigation Discovery's Murder Calls and Scorned; Oxygen's Snapped; FOX's Crime Watch Daily; and Lifetime Television's Killer Kids.