(1924–1995) was an American mass murderer who shot nine people, his wife
Theresa (Mazzoli) and her family, killing five, on November 17, 1950 in
Franklin Township, New Jersey, and Minotola, New Jersey.
Ingenito was born in Wildwood, New Jersey, on May 27,
1924, to Ernest and his wife, Helen (née Martin) Ingenito. He was the
oldest of three children. The family moved frequently between Wildwood
and Philadelphia, and his parents—who argued constantly—finally
separated when he was thirteen. Ingenito first got in trouble for
stealing when he was ten and was first sent to a reformatory at fourteen.
He continued to go in and out of reformatories for the next few years,
until he was paroled and allowed to return to Wildwood to live with his
He married briefly in 1941 but his abusive treatment
and womanizing quickly drove his wife away. He briefly served in the US
Army; during World War II, he was stationed at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.
But he was dishonorably discharged in 1946 after being court-martialed
twice: once for going AWOL, and a second for striking two superior
officers. He served two years of an eight-year sentence at Green Haven,
the military prison at Sing Sing, for the second offense.
Shortly after his discharge, Ingenito married 21-year-old
Theresa Mazzoli, the daughter of Michael and Pearl Mazzoli, who owned a
truck farm on Piney Hollow Road in Franklin Township in Gloucester
County, New Jersey. Theresa convinced Ingenito to move in with her
family and the young couple initially appeared to have had a happy
marriage. Ingenito worked on the farm and they had two sons. While
Ingenito got along well with his father-in-law Michael, he did not like
his mother-in-law, Pearl.
The relationship between Ingenito and his wife and
her family rapidly deteriorated after he took an outside job at a local
appliance store. When Michael learned that his son-in-law was seeing
other women, he threw Ingenito out of the house. Ingenito moved a few
miles away to board with Al and Kay Rulis, friends of his father. As
Theresa proceeded with plans for a divorce, Ingenito reportedly
contacted lawyers about seeing his children. In the meantime, he had
taken up target shooting and began buying ammunition at local stores for
his growing gun collection. On the night of November 17, 1950, he
decided to take the law into his own hands.
At about 8 p.m. on November 17, 1950, Ingenito armed
himself with a Luger converted to automatic, a Mauser C96, and a .32
caliber rifle and drove to the Mazzoli house. He confronted Theresa and
demanded to see their children; when Michael intervened, Ingenito shot
him twice, killing him. As Theresa fled into the adjacent dining room,
he shot her in the stomach and shoulder.
When his mother-in-law Pearl fled across the street
to her parent's home, Ingenito followed. He shot her mother, Theresa
Pioppi, in the doorway, then stepped over her body to shoot and kill his
wife's pregnant aunt, Marion Pioppi. He wounded his wife's nine-year-old
cousin Jeannie, then shot and killed Pearl Mazzoli, who tried to hide in
a closet. Ingenito also killed John Pioppi, one of Pearl's brothers, who
had chased after Ingenito with a knife.
Ingenito continued his killing spree, driving to
Minotola, where Theresa's aunt and uncle, Frank and Hilda Mazzoli, lived.
He shot both of them, in front of their two younger children. Although
critically wounded, both survived. Ernie was arrested by the New Jersey
State Police. Although he confessed everything during questioning, he
later refused to sign a statement admitting his guilt.
Ingenito was initially sentenced to life imprisonment
for the murder of Pearl Mazzoli. His lawyer, Frank Sahl, was able to
persuade the jury that they did not want the responsibility of sending
him to the electric chair. While all four counts of assault were
dismissed, five years passed before he was brought to court on the four
additional murder charges. Although his attorneys initially planned to
plead that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, they later changed
that plea to one of "no contest" on all four counts. The judge allowed
him to serve all five sentences concurrently. Since New Jersey did not
have a life sentence without possibility of parole at the time, he was
released in 1978 and lived in Trenton, where he worked for Trap Rock
Ingenito expressed no remorse about his killing spree,
and reportedly bragged about it to friends and associates. In 1994, he
was arrested again, this time for sexual assault and endangering the
welfare of a minor of the eight-year old daughter of a girlfriend. He
died in custody on October 7, 1995.
Blackwell, John. Notorious New Jersey: 100 True
Tales of Murders and Mobsters, Scandals and Scoundrels. Rutgers
University Press: Piscataway, 2007. pp. 69–71 (paperback edition)
Martinelli, Patricia A. "Rain of Bullets: The True
Story of Ernest Ingenito's Bloody Family Massacre." Stackpole Books:
Mechanicsburg, PA, 2010.
Nash, Jay Robert. Bloodletters and Badmen: A
Narrative Encyclopedia of American Criminals From the Pilgrims to the
Present. M. Evans and Company: New York, 1973. pp. 261–263 (note:
Nash miscounts the number of victims as eight)