Adrienne Shelly was a modestly successful actress, starring in a handful of independent films, but her star was on the rise in 2006. Waitress, a movie she wrote and directed, was due to be released the next year and it would prove to be critically loved, if not hugely successful financially. However, she wouldn’t live to see that success: on November 1, 2006, she was found dead in her bathroom, hanging with a bedsheet around her neck.
Initially believed to be a possible suicide, police quickly turned their gaze to murder, eventually settling on an Ecuadorian illegal-alien named Diego Pillco. He had only recently arrived in New York that year and was working in an apartment directly below one Shelly was working in. Angered by the loud construction noise, she complained to Pillco, who threw a hammer in her direction. Fearful of getting deported, he followed her, struck her, and then dragged her to her bathroom, attempting to stage a suicide. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years in prison