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The Scripps Inheritance

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Top, Alex (left) and Annie last summer; bottom left, Alex (left) and Annie with their mother; bottom right, Annie and her son, Michael.  

Annie dealt with her grief at first by throwing herself into caring for her half-sister. “Annie became a mom to Victoria,” says an old friend, Hilary Shevlin Karmilowicz. “Everything she was going through, it was Tori, Tori, Tori. She wanted to get custody of her. But she was 22 years old.” In early spring, Anne’s sister, Mary Scripps, brought Tori to her home in Vermont and eventually adopted her. Alex understood. “We were in no state of mind to raise a child,” she says. But for Annie, even though Tori stayed in touch and visited regularly, it was another blow.

In the years that followed, a few friends of the family say, Alex dominated Annie, taking advantage of her kindness and running her life. But others say that Alex really had no choice. Her sister was deeply dependent on her, unable to be alone for long stretches without breaking down.

In 1995, Alex married the man she had been seeing at the time of the murder, a real-estate investor from Eastchester named Jimmy Romeo. In 1996, Annie, who had not returned to college after her mother’s death, married Jimmy’s best friend, Paul Petrillo, whose family owns a construction company. The couples lived fifteen minutes from one another; Annie and Paul in Eastchester, Alex and Jimmy in Rye. Alex’s daughter, Alexa, and Annie’s son, Michael, were like sister and brother—fifteen months apart in age, just like Annie and Alex. But neither marriage lasted. Alex got divorced in 1998, Annie in 2000. “It was right after my mother was murdered. We were in la-la land,” Alex says. One friend says Annie found Paul “boring,” a far cry from the fairy-tale life she craved. Another friend says Annie had drinking problems all through the marriage, and had to be hospitalized a number of times after passing out.

After her divorce, Annie moved to Rye Brook, where a number of her Morell relatives live. Annie’s tiny condo was in a wooded townhouse complex called the Arbors on the Rye Brook–Greenwich border. Alex watched as Annie’s trust fund dwindled. Their mother’s estate only seemed to have $1.3 million, far less than outsiders assumed (it’s possible the girls received other family money not mentioned in Anne’s will). In 1995, Annie, Alex, and the Scripps family sued the state family court and police for $22 million, claiming Scott should have been barred from the house in Bronxville when Anne petitioned the court on December 6, 1993, but those suits were dismissed. They also split a small sum for a USA Network TV movie about the case. Later, a source says, Annie and Alex contemplated suing their uncle James or their mother’s estate, supposedly for cutting them out of other money coming from the previous generation. “I think Mary and Jimmy were jealous because Anne was the favorite one,” the source says. The source says no court papers were ever filed. (James and Mary Scripps declined to comment for this story.)

“Imagine finding your mother with her head and face all ripped up. I don’t think Annie ever got that image out of her head.”

Annie eventually inherited more than $1 million, Alex says, but she appeared to spend it all. Even when she bought her condo, she took out a mortgage, puzzling those who thought she should have enough money to pay cash. “She basically went through everything that was left to her,” says one friend. “She just buried herself in debt.”

Shortly before her divorce, Annie had breast-enhancement surgery. “She was very small-chested,” Alex says. But Annie’s new breasts were uneven, and she was in pain. There was a second surgery to correct the first, Alex says, but that didn’t work either. In the end, “she had to have had eight or ten operations,” Alex says. “And none of that was covered by insurance. She probably spent close to $300,000 or $400,000.” One old friend of Annie’s says the surgeries may have been a form of cutting— self-abuse born of the guilt and self-loathing she felt after her mother’s murder. “Who’s going to want me now?” she’d ask Rosey Kalayjian.

Annie was eager to meet a new man and remarry. She and Kalayjian would hit the spots on Greenwich Avenue, and guys would say they looked just like Jennifer Aniston and Courteney Cox. Plenty of men asked Annie out, but nothing stuck. “She was battling so many demons,” Kalayjian says. “And to find someone who was willing to accept all of that? Plus a child—that’s another obstacle.”

To occupy herself while Mikey was in school, Annie worked part-time at the King Street Nursing Home in Rye Brook. People suspected she was trying to beat back her demons by helping others, but the move backfired. “They loved her,” Alex says, “but Annie would always get so upset whenever somebody died in the nursing home. They tell you not to get too close to the people. But Annie got close to everybody.” Annie had other jobs—an antiques-store clerk, an office cafeteria worker—but none lasted. “She was well liked and she had a great personality,” a former boss says. “But she was drinking excessively, and wouldn’t always come to work in the best shape.”


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