Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Journalist. Mother. Bunny enthusiast. Pop culture junkie.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scary Love (a true story)

I seriously have the most fucked up story to tell you.

It is in your best interest to read every word, or you won't experience the same kind of horror I did, when I first learned the tale.

If you're a little older than me, or perhaps from New York, you may know this story already.

It is the story of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach.

I recently saw a documentary about the couple.

In 1959, Burt Pugach was a successful 30-something-year-old lawyer in New York City. He was driving with a buddy in the Bronx one day, when he saw a gorgeous young woman sitting on a bench. He practically jumped out of the moving car to introduce himself to the beauty.

She was 21-year-old Linda Riss, a kind-hearted girl from a poor family.

Dazzled by his wealth and charm, Linda agreed to go out with Burt, much to the delight of her lower middle class family. Burt took her to the hottest clubs in New York City, showing her off to his jealous friends. Linda became absolutely smitten with the adoring older man.

But one day, Linda found out that Burt was married, with a young daughter. She was heart-broken and disgusted. She broke off their relationship. Burt begged her to come back to him and even showed her some divorce papers to prove he was leaving his wife.

Linda was about to relent, because she loved Burt, but then her family's lawyer discovered that the divorce papers were fake. Burt had no intention of leaving his family for her. So, Linda broke things off with Burt for good.

Burt begged her to come back. She wouldn't relent. He started to become obsessed with her. He called her apartment dozens of times per day. He called her family and her friends. He stood across from her apartment every day. He followed her everywhere she went.

He event sent her a threatening note, saying if he couldn't have her, nobody could.

Linda was frightened and went to the police several times. But 1959 was a time before stalking laws were in place. The police shrugged off the incidents and told Linda there was nothing she could do.

Meanwhile, Linda tried desperately to move on with her life. She soon met a very handsome young man and they became engaged.

When Burt heard about the engagement, he was livid. Overwhelmed by jealousy and hatred, he hired a few men off the street and whispered a plan to them.

One afternoon, the doorbell rang at Linda's apartment. Linda's mom answered it and called out to her daughter that it was a deliveryman with a wedding package.

When Linda came into the doorway, the fake delivery man threw acid in her face.

The 23-year-old beauty was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and was there for several days.

But it was too late. She was blind and facially disfigured.

The incident made national news. Burt was the most hated man in America that year. He received 14 years in prison.

Despite the sympathy pouring in from millions of people, Linda's life was destroyed.

Her fiance broke off their engagement. Not because Linda was no longer beautiful, but because he simply couldn't afford to take care of her, now that she was visually handicapped.

For the rest of her 20s, Linda dated various men, but the relationships all ended when she took off her sunglasses and revealed the horror underneath.

She became painfully depressed and incredibly lonely. She spent the next decade holed up in her tiny apartment in New York City, hating her life.

And during those years, Burt never left her alone. He called her from jail every week and wrote her letters every day. He was still obsessed with her. She couldn't escape him.

In 1974, Burt was released from jail and he immediately contacted Linda, desperate to see her in person. Against her better judgement, Linda accepted.

When she went to see Burt for dinner, he apologized for ruining her life and asked her to marry him.

Linda accepted.

Although she hated Burt for what he had done, she could tell he was truly sorry and he still loved her. Plus, she was lonely and living in squalor. The finally-divorced Burt was a wealthy meal ticket who could take care of her. She truly didn't believe she had anyone else. She was desperate.

The two married that year.

Their marriage shocked the entire nation. They were the subject of every talk show, news report, and magazine article in the country that year.

Linda's family and friends were appalled. But Linda saw it a different way. She felt she finally had a man who still thought she was beautiful, despite the physical damage he had caused. Plus, what better payback than to force him to see what he had done every single day for the rest of his life?

Their marriage appeared to be oddly blissful until 1997, when a young woman accused Burt of threatening her life. Although Linda was hurt when she discovered her husband had been having an affair with the woman, she was a character witness during the trial, stating her husband wouldn't harm a fly.

It worked, because he was found innocent.

Burt and Linda are still married today. Happily.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

OMG! is all I can say to this story. You weren't kidding- very intense!! (And no way would i marry the man that had acid thrown in my face- no matter how sorry he was. Wow!)

Natassja said...

Damn! You weren't kidding when you said that was an effed up story! He sounds like a truly messed up soul, and I can't even wrap my head around the fact that she married him, and stood by him when he threatened someone else (allegedly)...makes me a little sad/confused for womenkind everywhere for sure!

FashionJazz said...

Wow I am in shock!! I cant wrap my head around this.... super weird.... Hope you are having a lovely Thursday babe xx

Angela of "Grahangela" said... Can't believe I've never heard this story! All those years of loneliness must have made her crazy. It's amazing what having poor self esteem can make you think is OK. And he sounds like a master manipulator. Yikes. Sad, and totally disturbing!

~ Angela

Gayatri said...

Disturbing, disgusting, crazy, intense and above all, truly sad.


Fashion Celebration said...

amazing story!!!


Oh to Be a Muse said...

i was totally expecting her face to look much worse after the acid attack. either way, that is one of the craziest stories i've ever read. i can't believe she married that loser. but i can totally see how low her self esteem must have been at the time after what happened to her.

Mouthwash said...

What. What?! This is I felt bad for this woman - up until the point she married him - it sounds like in the end she became as terrible as HE was . "Wouldn't hurt a fly"?! What was she then? A gnat?

I am so shocked by this story! How terribly sad and heart-wrentching. There is no happy ending to this.

Sheela said...

omg realy its soo cool i have never met someone who is half indian so it is so nice to meet u :) do u live in sweden?


following u:)

two birds said...

that is an absolutely disgusting story! wow. i don't know what else to say. sad...

lapetiteblonde said...

omg!is true??¿i´m in shock!!hahaha...

Josie said...

This is HORRIFYING. No words.
xo Josie

Sarah said...

So strange!

mirjam schuurkamp said...

woow, its horrible!
my god
how could you do something like that
sick people

New outfitpost - New favourite dress

Kavery said...

How twisted was he? Eww! I wouldn't trust him but then we don't know what Linda was going through so we can't really judge. Still! Psycho!!

Tanvi said...

That is one intense story ... it is easy to sit across my laptop and judge Linda ... but it is Burt whom I cannot begin to understand ... Obsession is not love ... at least not in my eyes! :)

♡ from ©

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

That is so scary and sad. People can end up with others for a variety of bizarre reasons and it goes to show that love itself can really be strange and blind itself!

Chic 'n Cheap Living

Alexandria said...

What. The. Hell? Flabbergasted. That's all.

Bonnie said...

Dude, that is so effed up. I don't know if I am proud of her for making him looking at what he did every single day of his life, or if I hate her for going back to him. Either way ... Dude.
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Fashion.MakeUp.LifeStyle said... words can't truly described what how disgusted I am by this horrific story. This is what loneliness really do to women. Seriously we tend to settle for A LOT LESS than what we really deserved all in the name of not ever feel lonely or unloved. CRAzY story.

<3 Marina

azu said...

What is she blind? Oh wait...

Let me rephrase that. She may be blind physically, but I believe she is emotionally blind. That man is sick, but it takes an even bigger sicko to stick by him.

Scary story, for sure!

Miss Sassy Pants said...

Speechless. Absolutely speechless.

Very few blog posts make me stop and think, and this one definitely did.

Despite that, I could actually identify and understand her actions... scary thought that I am able to do that.

Meri said...

wow- one of the weirdest stories I've ever read. I guess I can't judge her without knowing what her life was like though, and what she was looking for. Bizarre,and you're right, scary!

Kristin said...

That is disturbing on so many levels.

Leia said...

This is the craziest story I've ever heard!


Antonia said...

Wooow, I like it!! :)



Anonymous said...

Wow. Just, wow! I don't know what to say to this. What Burt did was cruel. He destroyed her life so I can't believe she still married him. Wow!

I would never want this to happen to me. :/

P.S. You should start watching Gossip Girl. It's never too late!

XoXo, Bree
Tweet me: Viva_La_Breee

The Woven Moments said...

What a story! I'm still reeling so I can't react yet.

But trust that I will be reading this to my co-workers. GREAT water cooler talk for a Friday.


Cafe Fashionista said...

That is the sickest story I have ever read. Seriously. :/

Couture Carrie said...

That is terrifying and twisted.
You are such a good storyteller, darling!


Olga said...

This is the creepiest story I've ever heard. Poor woman - completely dependent on this, let say, man.

Courtney Erin said...

Wowza, that's banana pants crazy!

xoxo ~ Courtney

Natalie said...

WOW! So crazy...I never heard this story before either. People really do crazy things for love.. said...

Unf*ckinbelievable. I really thought this story was going to go in a different direction. It's difficult to have sympathy for her, though she is clearly desperate and troubled. Very sad.

Shruti said...

Hey Jen!
I guess its just me who din find the story 'that' scary. I guess she did the best she could have done to herself.
I was expecting some chilling story (I am a sucker of psychopath stories. I am not normal :-P). jk!
I like your comic timing and oh! you made me browse through their pics all over the internet :) This guy's really crazy.

Stephanie said...

Wow. This is so sad and so...crazy. Makes me appreciate my very normal life.

2Gitanas said...

i dont even know where to begin....what I feel is like she was really in love with him since the beginning but tried to move on cause he was married...after his attack she must have passed through a rally tough time and heartbreak cause she lost her fiancee plus her real love messed her life by taking her vision. After being so alone and neglected by everyone and feeling lonely, Burt was the only one who stayed with her eemotionally...I am not a judgmental person,cause u cant without being in someone elses shoes...they are still together. Great story, very interesting! thanks for sharing and visiting my following you!

Savvy Gal said...

OMG, speechless.....

Reka Sang said...

Its shocking to say the least, but here even to this day, village heads and even parents force many a girl to marry the rapist...what can be more inhuman than that. Sometimes reality is far more mind boggling than fiction.

BeSugarandSpice said...

Amazing story!Kisses!!

What's In a Name? said...

To each his own. Dont know why i recalled elizabeth taylors life while reading this : no connection except horrible personal lives. Landed on your blog today ! Very interesting.

Elisse said...

What a story - thanks for retelling it on your blog! To be honest, I don't know what to think of it, but it's one of these odd love stories that I suppose none of us can really pass judgement on?!

Anonymous said...

Odd & awkward. Sounds a lot fabricated, no offence. But if it really happened, its a sad & pathetic story

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Unknown said...

Such a sad but romantic story... weird what love can make you do