Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
“It Was Bloodshed, Everything Was Red”: Man Dismembered Own Mother with Help From Girlfriend
“He snapped. In every sense of the word,” Ilene Lazar told Snapped: Killer Couples as she described her boyfriend’s gruesome actions.
A Florida man was convicted of brutally killing and dismembering his own mother, while his girlfriend helped, and his children hid in another room.
“He just kept beating her and hitting her,” said Francis Riccio, Jr. on Snapped: Killer Couples, airing on Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen. “It was just merciless. It was a bloodbath. I was scared. I was with my sister, and we ran to the other side of the house because we were like, ‘Are we next?’”
But the murder of Maureen Riccio by her son, Francis (Frank) Riccio and his girlfriend, Ilene Lazar, wasn't as cut and dry as it seemed. A complicated childhood and family history only served to fuel the rage that eventually killed the Riccio matriarch.
The Discovery of Maureen Riccio's Body
A maintenance worker servicing a cell tower found a human skull in a ditch and called authorities on May 14, 2013 in Brevard County, Florida. When the sheriff’s office responded, they discovered more pieces of skeleton in plastic bags near the ditch.
“The body had been dismembered,” said Cmdr. Tod Goodyear, a retired member of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, on Snapped: Killer Couples. “Animals had not pulled it. That it had actually been cut … just the way that that was done is gruesome.”
The medical examiner’s office was able to use a pacemaker found among the bones to identify the victim as 70-year-old Maureen Riccio. Deputies determined she was last living in a rented house in Melbourne, Florida with her son, Frank, his girlfriend, Ilene Lazar, and their three children.
The family had just relocated to New York a few weeks previously, where police tracked down Riccio and Lazar. Maureen had not been reported missing.
Riccio and Lazar told officers Maureen had left their home in Florida following an argument and they figured she’d return one day, which is why they didn’t report her missing. But police soon uncovered a complicated family history.
Frank Riccio's Troubled Past with His Mother, Maureen
“[Maureen] abandoned my father when he was a kid,” Riccio, Jr. said. “And so, my grandmother took care of my dad.”
Following his parents’ divorce and his mother’s absence as a young child, Riccio dropped out of high school, before beginning to date Lazar in 1994. The couple had their first child in 1995 and moved from New York to Florida in 2006. By 2012, Riccio and Lazar learned Maureen was living in assisted living facilities with health issues in New York, and decided to move her into their Florida home.
“Frank felt that being that it was his biological mother, he owed it to her to go above and beyond and try to make her as comfortable and welcoming as possible,” Lazar said on Snapped: Killer Couples.
But Maureen’s health problems were more severe than Riccio and Lazar first realized. She was diagnosed as a manic-depressive paranoid schizophrenic.
“She just kept on, day and night. Day and night. Havoc, havoc, havoc,” Riccio said during a police interview. “I didn’t know what to do. Throw things at you. Flip out, hurt herself, scratch you, punch — everything.”
Ilene Lazar Confesses to a Gruesome Crime
Florida police got a warrant to search the Riccio rental home. Using a chemical agent to pick up blood splatters, what officers found in a back bedroom was disturbing.
“There’s a lot of blood,” Goodyear said. “And the blood is spread out within that room, which is consistent with somebody being cut up.”
Officers also discovered social security checks for Maureen were still being issued to the Florida address. Using the theory that Riccio or Lazar killed her in a rage, they once again questioned the couple. After first denying that anything happened to her boyfriend’s mother, Lazar eventually broke down and confessed.
Lazar told police one night Riccio returned home, heavily intoxicated, and saw Lazar and his mother fighting. She claimed he then told her to take their children into another room and said he’d “take care of it.”
“She got really nasty with him, she was like, ‘I hate you, I wish you were never born,’” Lazar said during the police interview. “Then he’s telling her to shut up, shut up, ‘I can’t take it and you’re killing my family, I don’t know what else to do for you,’ and she just kept getting louder and louder.”
Lazar told police after the argument, all she heard was silence, and then Riccio returned to the room where she was waiting and said, “Sorry, God forgive me, I didn’t mean it.”
“He motioned for me to go into the room … it was bloodshed,” Lazar said. “Everything was red. The walls. The blinds. The ceiling fan. The vents from the AC. The floor. Everything.”
Lazar told police she had no choice but to help her boyfriend clean it up, and cover up the murder.
“The thought that was going through my mind was, ‘I’m gonna lose my kids,’” Lazar said.
The next day, Lazar told police, the couple went to a hardware store and bought cleaning supplies, as well as a saw and bags. She claimed Riccio made her wear a blindfold as he dismembered his mother, so she wouldn’t have to see it.
“I’m still tormented by the sounds,” Lazar said. “I can already hear the saw. I got splattered with the bone chips … that’s when it became surreal. That a human being could actually do this to another.”
Lazar told police she wasn’t involved in disposing of the body.
Frank Riccio Confesses to Mother's Murder
When confronted by police with Lazar’s confession, Riccio confirmed everything she said was true and took full responsibility.
"It was a hammer … when she was flipping out, ripping her clothes up, screaming, going f--king totally nutty, and f--kng hitting me … I couldn’t take the pressure no more, and I f--king whacked her with the f-king hammer,” Riccio said during a police interview.
Police learned Lazar pawned a circular saw in the days after the murder, and in June 2013, she was charged as an accessory to murder. She took a plea deal, and served four and a half years, before she was released in November 2017.
Still, her children don’t blame her for her involvement.
“I know my dad,” Riccio Jr. said. “If she didn’t help, he was going to dispose of two bodies.”
Riccio was sentenced to 25 years in prison, and will be released in 2036 at the age of 69.
“Frank and Ilene, they loved each other,” J.D. Gallop, a journalist for Florida Today said on Snapped: Killer Couples. “Ilene was by his side. Thick and thin. Whatever the case may be. She decided to stick with him — and follow through with his horrific plan to dispose of the body of his mother."
Out of prison, Lazar has reconnected with her children, but the same may not be true when Riccio is released.
“He’ll never be forgiven. Ever, ever,” Riccio Jr. said. “This is already over 10 years ago. Our lives are completely different. We’re just trying to move on with everything.”