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Crime News Cold Justice

Married Couple and Their Elderly Mothers Victims of a “Particularly Brutal” Quadruple Murder

In a Cold Justice two-part special, Kelly Siegler and South Carolina investigators examine who could have stabbed and shot a married couple and their elderly mothers. 

By Jax Miller

In a Cold Justice two-part special, Kelly Siegler returns to South Carolina to help investigate the heinous murders of a married couple and their elderly mothers.

How to Watch

Watch Cold Justice on Oxygen Saturdays at 8/7c. Catch up on the Oxygen App.

Teamed up with Homicide Investigator Steve Spingola, the duo met with officials from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office (A.C.S.O.) — including Sheriff Chad McBride, Detective Tyler Duncan, and Staff Sergeant Scotty Hill — to investigate who brutally stabbed and shot the four adults in their upstate home on Halloween 2015.

“They slaughtered these people,” Spingola said of the killer or killers. “These were armed wolves that went in and killed the sheep one at a time. There’s a special place in Hell for this guy, I’ll tell you that much.”

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A Family Found Murdered

On November 2, 2015, Amy Vilardi, 32, called authorities to report finding her mother, Cathy Scott, 60, and stepfather, Mike Scott, 58, murdered in their double-wide trailer in Pendleton, a small town situated about a 2-hour drive each way between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Also dead in the home was Cathy’s 82-year-old mother, Violet Taylor, and Mike’s 80-year-old mother, Barbara Scott, in what Sgt. Hill called “one of the bloodiest scenes I’ve ever been to.”

All four of the victims had been stabbed to death with their throats “filleted open all the way across,” according to Hill. Each one of the decedents sustained a gunshot wound to the head, though the bullet wounds were inflicted post-mortem.

“We knew we were dealing with something none of us had ever seen before,” said Hill.

Mike and Cathy Scott featured on Cold Justice Episode 710

Spingola said the killings contained “a particularly brutal level of savagery,” as shown in crime scene photos published by Cold Justice — airing Saturdays at 8/7c on Oxygen. Detectives found themselves puzzled over who would have wanted to cause harm to any of the four victims.

Mike worked for the Department of Transportation, and authorities described Cathy as a homemaker. Both allowed their mothers to live with them on account of their age and health. On the property, less than 50 yards from the residence, lived Amy and her new husband, Ross Vilardi, 28, as well as Amy’s two young children, neither of whom were in town when Amy discovered the bodies.

“There wasn’t a lot to indicate a massive struggle, and there was no forced entry,” Hill continued. “At the time, we believed whoever killed them was let into the house.”

Relatives said Mike was known to buy and sell gold, jewelry, coins, and other valuables, and he reportedly stored tens of thousands of dollars in the home because he was against the idea of keeping money in the bank. A tipped shelf in the bedroom indicated someone had taken a cash-filled safe.

Who would have killed them?

Mike’s business dealings made him “high risk” as a target. However, since it seemed that whoever committed the crimes had been let into the home, it opened the probability that the victims knew their killer(s).

Detectives turned their attention toward Cathy’s daughter, Amy Vilardi, who was at odds with her mother and stepfather.

“Amy was a bit of a wild child... and had a handful of ex-husbands before marrying Ross a week before the murders,” said Siegler. “She told her friends Cathy was a narcissist, and they argued over how to raise Amy’s kids.”

The Vilardis and the married Scotts reportedly had a family falling out in July 2015, months before the murders.

Sgt. Hill described Ross as a “pretty likable guy,” a decorated U.S. Marine with specialized training to guard embassies around the world. But what helped bring the Vilardis onto detectives’ radar was that they found about $68,000 in cash, monies the newlyweds claimed they earned from their pet grooming business, when they searched their single-wide trailer.

RELATED: Arrest Made in Case of Mother’s “Gruesome” 1987 Workplace Abduction, Murder

A Closer Look at the Crime Scene

Barbara Scott featured on Cold Justice Episode 710

With the help of forensic pathologist Dr. Kathryn Pinneri M.D., the investigators recreated the crime scene and looked back at the injuries sustained by the victims. Mike and the two elderly women (both of whom were lying side by side) were found on the living room floor, while Cathy was found dead in her bedroom. The attack was so violent that victim Violet Taylor was nearly decapitated.

Barbara Scott sustained the most injuries, having been stabbed six times.

“These two ladies wouldn’t hurt a fly, but these women went through hell,” Inv. Spingola told Cold Justice. “Stab wounds don’t kill you instantly; they’re slow, painful, and frightening.”

It appeared that whoever committed the crimes struck Mike first by stabbing him six times on the side of the neck as he sat on the couch. Detectives believed Violet and Barbara were on a nearby couch and tried to get away to no avail. Cathy’s footprints in blood suggested she retreated to her bedroom after the attack began, sustaining a single stab wound to the lung.

A “rectangular bruise” found on the bodies hinted that the weapon used had a handle, not unlike a military-style knife. Each victim was also shot in the head after they’d succumbed to the knife wounds.

It didn’t make sense that a killer would have stabbed the victims if they possessed a gun. It was determined from an empty holster under the bed that Cathy likely retreated to her bedroom to access the .38-caliber revolver used in the quadruple homicide but that the killer or killers beat her to it. It also had detectives wondering if there was more than one killer or if it was a classic case of overkill.

Kids’ toys discovered on the living room coffee table suggested the Scotts were expecting a visit from their grandchildren.

A closer look at the daughter and son-in-law

Mike’s sister, Pam Isbell, and her husband, Keith, sat with the Cold Justice team to look back at the fallout between Amy and the murdered parents. In July 2015, Mike and Cathy took their grandchildren to a Fourth of July church celebration, and when they returned, they found Amy, Ross, and their friends allegedly drunk.

A fight ensued when the grandparents tried to take the children home.

RELATED: South Carolina Widower Stabbed to Death on Morning of Son’s College Graduation

The row resulted in Amy forbidding Mike and Cathy from seeing the children despite them living right next door. But, just before Amy and Ross married, Mike reportedly tried to make peace with the embittered couple so they could continue seeing their grandchildren.

Amy allegedly agreed to let her children see their grandparents again.

“For us to still be here eight years later, it’s not justice,” said Mike’s sister.

Cathy’s brothers and Violet’s sons, David and Roger Taylor, gave Cold Case investigators information about the strained relationship between the married Scotts and the Vilardis next door. According to the men, fights became physical between mother and daughter, with Amy allegedly weaponizing her kids against their grandparents and using them as leverage.

Violet Taylor featured on Cold Justice Episode 710

Cathy’s niece, Tammy White, said Amy regularly bashed Cathy on the internet. Mike’s niece and nephew-in-law also claimed that Amy raised attention by wearing a red dress with a Kentucky Derby-style hat to the funeral. Plus, only one day after the funeral, Ross Vilardi allegedly went to the murder house, removed all the furniture — including the carpet — and disposed of the items in the yard.

Another look at the crime scene led A.C.S.O. Captain Wayne Mills — a former U.S. Marine himself — to question if the act was committed by a person with military training.

“I believe with the expertise that took place, I believe it was someone very comfortable with an edged weapon,” said Mills. “A Marine fits that category... This was someone who took some training, had some background in this type of situation, and obviously was very personally related to the victims.”

Investigators theorized that Amy had the family together in the living room before Ross entered and initialized the attack. Spingola said he believed it was “a two-person job” and that one left an Asics running sneaker print behind in the blood.

A crack in the case?

Digital forensic expert Eric Devlin reviewed “tons and tons” of correspondence between Amy and the Scotts, much of which took place in July 2015, around the time of the big family rift. In a July 9, 2015, message to Cathy, Amy accused her mother of telling “the same lies over and over."

Messages also proved Mike and Cathy had tried building bridges with Amy and Ross for the sake of being involved in their grandchildren’s lives.

“Amy also posted lots of quotes about emotional abuse, narcissistic parents, [and] disrespect,” said Siegler. “But more than that, Amy posted videos of her and Ross arguing with her family.’

One video — obtained and published by Cold Justice — showed Amy recording “another fun-filled day with a narcissistic family,” she said. Another argument between Ross and the elderly Barbara Scott ended with Ross saying, “I hope you die.”

But even more damning, Mike had sent a direct message to his coworker on October 29, 2015  just two days before the murder — alongside an image of some of Mike’s cash. The serial numbers on the money matched hundred-dollar bills found in Amy and Ross’s trailer. Though it was proof that Amy and Ross were in possession of Mike’s money, was it enough to prove murder?

“We’re just getting started,” said Siegler.

Watch the second part of the case as Cold Justice continues, Saturdays at 8/7c on Oxygen.