In June 2007, an excavator digging up land in the backyard of a residence in Puyallup, Washington made a gruesome discovery while on the job: a black plastic bag filled with human bones. Investigators descended upon the scene, discovering 51 more bones connected to the same individual.
The forensic team determined that the bones had been dismembered using a chainsaw, and had been buried for approximately 30 years.
While the owner of the home said it had been rented as far back as the 1970's to multiple tenants, investigators eventually received a call from a Missing Person’s Unit that had learned about the bones on the local news.
Turns out, the Unit had a missing person connected to the address of the residence: a man named Joseph Terricone. The case is the subject of Oxygen’s new show, “Buried in the Backyard,” airing Sundays at 7/6c.
After Terricone’s daughter, Gypsy, confirmed she hadn’t seen or heard from her father in about 30 years, DNA tests proved the bones belonged to him. Gypsy then provided details about her father’s life around the time he had disappeared, which included a tumultuous relationship with his then-girlfriend, Renee Curtiss.
Investigators discovered that Curtiss’s brother, Nicholas Notaro, was in jail for killing his wife, and after being questioned he confessed to killing Terricone. Curtiss’s brother maintained that his sister hadn’t been involved in her ex-boyfriend’s murder.
Sound fishy? Investigators thought so too.
During questioning, Curtiss claimed that Terricone had already been shot dead by her brother before she went along with him to purchase the chainsaw that was used to cut up his body. She also admitted to helping her brother bury Terricone in the backyard.
Though her actions sound incriminating, there was a statute of limitations on these crimes. But investigators knew that if Renee were to admit to ordering the murder there would be no statute of limitations that would exempt her.
Unaware of this law, Curtiss continued to give details about the murder, saying she had wanted Terricone “gone” and for her brother Nicholas to “help with the problem,” according to Seattle PI. A prosecutor claimed “the problem” may have been that Curtiss had “grown tired of his romantic advances.”
In 2009, Renee Curtiss was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison, according to The Olympian. Her brother, Nicholas Notaro, was also convicted of the first-degree murder of Joseph Terricone and was also sentenced to life in prison.
“They slaughtered my father like a pig,” said Gypsy Terricone, according to The Olympian. “He didn’t deserve that. He was a good man.”