Mary Jo tells “Dr. Oz” she was “like a schizophrenic” for years after getting shot in the face by her husband’s teenage lover, “in pain and agony.”
It was one of the biggest true-crime stories of the early 1990s, and while everyone knows about Amy Fisher and Joey and Mary Jo Buttafuoco, "Dr. Oz" brought out a new perspective on the story, Mary Jo’s daughter Jessie.
In this exclusive peek at the first daytime chat with the mother-daughter duo, Dr. Oz sits down and chats with both Mary Jo and Jessie about the monumental impact a single shot has had on the family in the intervening years.
Jessie Buttafuoco was nine years old when Amy Fisher, her father’s underage lover, showed up at her doorstep and shot her mother in the face. It would be an instant that would change her family forever and not just because of the horrific crime that had been perpetrated.
For awhile, Jessie admits she didn’t even know exactly what had happened. "Now, as an adult looking back, what do you tell a nine-year-old child, you know, when they didn’t even know what was going on at the time," she said. "So they had told me that she had fallen on a nail while painting in the backyard."
She recalled getting picked up early from school that fateful day and the looks on the faces of her relatives told her something was up. "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," she said.
And then, things only got crazier as the story of the Buttafuocos and Fisher somehow captured the nation in a way that few crime stories do, and once the nation had latched onto it, they followed every development in the same way they were entranced with cases like the Menendez brothers, JonBenet Ramsey and O.J. Simpson.
Trying to recover from a horrific injury, the trauma of finding out her husband had been cheating on her with a teenager and trying to raise two kids, Mary Jo later admitted to Dr. Oz that she knows she wasn’t always present for her children in the way they needed.
"I was like a schizophrenic in all those years when they were growing up," she said. "I was Mom when they were around in our home and Mom’s okay and Mom’s great, and Mom wasn’t good at all. Mom was a wreck. Mom was in pain and agony. My husband was in jail some of the time. It was chaotic."
Fisher, who was 17 at the time, had been embroiled in an affair with Jessie’s father, Joey. She ultimately plead guilty to first-degree assault, avoiding a possible attempted murder charge, and spent seven years in prison.
Joey also spent a short time in prison for statutory rape, while Mary Jo suffered permanent damage to one side of her face that has resulted in several surgeries and physical therapy to regain use of that side.
But through it all, Jessie says her mother was doing a better job than she even realized. "She was still taking me to soccer practice and dance class and showing up to my basketball games and my school performances. She was a mom. She made sure to be of that."
A remarkable story of two women who’ve come through a tremendous trauma both from the initial incident and then the public magnifying glass over their lives for so long, Dr. Oz digs deep into how that single moment impacted them individually and as a family. It’s the side of these kinds of stories that too often gets untold.
After the cameras have all left and the sentences have been passed down, there are still people left trying to pick up the pieces of their lives and try to figure out what normal is again. It’s a story of inner strength and the bonds of family and love that help carry them through.
"Dr. Oz" reflects back on one of America’s most famous crimes in looking at the aftermath of the Amy Fisher story by talking with the woman she shot, Mary Jo Buttafuoco, and the young daughter who saw her world turned upside down, Jessie Buttafuoco. Check local listings for air time and network.
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