In 2008, Texan Christine Paolilla was convicted for killing four young adults five years earlier—including two of her best friends. The case is the subject of this week’s episode of Oxygen’s Martinis & Murder podcast, but there’s so many crazy twists in this story that it can be hard to keep it all straight. So below is what you need to know, based on reporting from Oxygen’s Snapped as well as some additional research that we did for our podcast.
Christine had a hard childhood.
Paolilla, born 1986 in Long Island, experienced death very early in life. Her father, a construction worker, was killed by falling bricks when Christine was 2. According to ABC News, her grandfather and great-grandmother passed away a few months later, and she soon asked her mom “why is it that people I love go away?”
Her mother had been a stay-at-home mom, who soon developed a drug addiction from the strain. Paolilla went to live with her grandparents instead, but would continue to call up her mom and cry, asking things like “Mommy, can’t I come home?”
She was bald at the age of 7.
At the age of 5, Paolilla developed alopecia, which caused her hair to fall out. When she was 7, she went almost completely bald, and didn’t even have eyebrows or eyelashes. She was bullied for this throughout her entire life; kids would rip off her wig and run away with it.
When the Paolilla family moved to an affluent suburb of Houston called Clear Lake, Christine ended up facing the same problems as she did elsewhere even through high school. People made fun of her cheap wigs, her excessive make-up, her glasses, and her clothes. She was only saved when two popular girls stepped in.
She was saved from bullying from two popular girls at school.
Rachael Koloroutis and Tiffany Rowell were a year older than Paolilla and felt bad for her. They decided to reach out and give her a makeover. The three girls went shopping together, buying better clothes and wigs—they even helped Paolilla learn how to apply her makeup more subtly.
Paolilla was eventually voted “Miss Irresistible” at school.
She had a “bad boy” boyfriend (pictured below).
At the age of 14, Christine Paolilla met Chris Snider at a party. He was into hard drugs—but he also liked Christine, and she liked the attention he gave her, even though he could be emotionally abusive. Her mother once told ABC News he once ripped off her wig in front of her classmates to embarrass her.
Snider eventually got caught stealing to support his drug habit and was sent to a juvenile delinquent center. He got out in 2003, right around the time when Koloroutis and Rowell were graduating from high school.
Paolilla’s family tried to keep Snider from seeing Christine, even attempting to take out a restraining order against him. And Koloroutis and Rowell told Paolilla that she could do better.
She and Snider ended up killing Tiffany and Rachael.
On July 18, 2003, police found the remains of Koloroutis and Rowell—plus Rowell’s boyfriend Marcus Precella and his cousin Adelbert Sanchez—at a house the two girls shared. The boys and Rowell had been fatally shot multiple times. Koloroutis was shot multiple times, including through the crotch, and then beaten after she had survived the shootings.
The brutality of the crime and the fact that there appeared to be no forced entry into the house told police that the killers had likely known their victims. But for a long time, Paolilla wasn’t a suspect.
She got away with the crime for a while, but her life wasn’t easy.
Police talked to everyone who had spoken to the victims by telephone within the last 48 hours—but Paolilla hadn’t spoken to any of them for 72 hours before the shooting. Instead, police learned that Precella had dealt drugs, and thought that the motive for the shooting had been related to that.
As Paolilla relied more and more on Snider, she began increasing her drug use. After being arrested for shoplifting, she was ordered to go to rehab, where she met Justin Rott, a heroin addict. She broke off her relationship with Snider and married Rott at the age of 19.
She was finally caught due to a confession she made in rehab.
Police finally arrested Paolilla after someone called them with an anonymous tip, claiming that Paolilla had confessed to killing the four young adults with Snider while she was in rehab.
Investigators found her in a hotel room with her husband, surrounded by heroin and needles.
Police separated Rott and Paolilla and interrogated them about the murders. Rott told police everything that Paolilla had told him, and she was arrested.
When Chris Snider found out the police were looking for him, he committed suicide.
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