After living it up under the Las Vegas sun, husband and wife Carmine and Mary Bruno moved to North Carolina. For her, it was a return home, and for him, it was retirement.
Carmine’s time in the south, however, was cut short by a baseball bat to the head, and investigators rushed to find out who could have had the motive to bludgeon the 68-year-old to death.
Mary was born in 1959 and grew up in Danville, Virginia on the North Carolina border. She was one of four kids in a close-knit family, but her parents divorced when she was a teenager. Her mother later remarried, and the family followed her to Las Vegas in 1980.
Mary met Carmine in 1984 while she working as a ticket writer at a casino in town. Originally from New Jersey, Carmine was “rough around the edges” and had moved to Las Vegas to work at a nuclear test site, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Ken Murphy told “Snapped,” airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
The couple, who had an 18-year age gap between them, married just two days after meeting. Despite their brief courtship and quick, Vegas-style wedding, they made a happy home for themselves in Sin City for the better part of two decades.
During a trip back east, the Brunos visited Wilmington, North Carolina and immediately fell in love with the city and decided to move there. They bought a beautiful home and had an active social life, frequenting local restaurants and bars.
But on the night of Jan. 7, 2010, their peaceful life of retirement was shattered. Mary called her younger brother, Herman D. Jackson, Jr., in a panic. “She was hysterical. She said, ‘I need you to come here right away,’” Jackson told “Snapped.” “I was terrified of her voice … so I called 911.”
First responders raced to the scene and met Jackson there. Inside, Mary was sitting on the couch and told officers that her husband was downstairs in the garage.
“Down at the bottom of the steps in the garage [there was] what appeared to be the body, which was wrapped up in sheets and also a shower curtain,” Murphy told “Snapped.” “His head was wrapped in what appeared to be a black garbage bag with tape around it.”
From the moment they saw Carmine’s body, authorities knew they were dealing with a homicide. A bloody aluminum baseball bat — the murder weapon — was found nearby, and an autopsy would later determine he had been struck in the head at least 15 times, according to “Snapped.”
Investigators, however, doubted the garage was the primary crime scene. “If someone was to be murdered at that scene, in the garage, you would have expected to see a pool of blood, you would have expected to see blood spatter. There was no evidence of that at that time at that location,” New Hanover County Sheriff’s Lieutenant David Swan told “Snapped.”
Blood stains were subsequently found on the living room wall and on wine glasses in the kitchen. Behind a couch, detectives found bone fragments. It had been a particularly brutal murder, one that detectives believed indicated a personal motive.
While questioning Mary, 50, they learned that not only had she witnessed her husband’s murder, but she also knew who killed him. “It was her roommate,” New Hanover County Sheriff’s Detective Lisa Marie Hudson told “Snapped.”
Dennis Benjamin Roy had been leasing a spare bedroom of the Brunos for $400 a month, and he worked at a nearby gas station, which is where he’d met and befriended the couple.
Mary said they’d never had any problems with Roy, 55, until the night of the murder. She said the couple was watching television, with Carmine dozing on the couch, when Roy walked out from his bedroom and attacked her husband.
“Dennis walks out and he looks at me and he goes, ‘I can't take it anymore,’ and he comes over here with the baseball bat and he goes BAM,” Mary told detectives in a video interview obtained by “Snapped.” “Dennis just kept beating and beating, and I was like, ‘Stop it, Dennis! Stop, you're gonna kill him!’”
Mary claimed she didn’t know what made Roy snap and that she was powerless to stop him. After the murder, he ordered her into the bedroom while he cleaned up the crime scene.
Mary said that after cleaning, Roy left the house and went to work, which is where detectives soon found him. While initially pleading ignorance about Carmine’s death, he ultimately made a full confession, claiming he beat Carmine to death because he was verbally abusive to him and Mary.
“He threatened me. He threatened her. He said he was gonna beat us up. He’d been choking me, he’s a bully,” Roy said during his police interrogation, according to “Snapped.”
“It was basically the rage built up in me, and I went out there with a bat,” Roy said. “I don’t know what I thought I was gonna do. I was gonna basically break his legs. And then when I saw him, then I hit him, you know, and then I hit him a couple more times.”
Roy was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, according to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office website. He was held without bond as detectives continued their investigation.
Carmine’s autopsy revealed that by the time Mary called her brother, Carmine had already been dead for two days. When asked why she hadn’t called sooner, she claimed Roy drugged her, rendering her incoherent.
Detectives believed there was more to the story than what Roy and Mary were telling them. In speaking to Carmine’s adult children, they learned the Brunos’ marriage was falling apart.
“Carmine’s children were very forthcoming on the fact that Carmine and Mary argued a lot, fought a lot. This was not a storybook marriage,” assistant prosecutor Dru Lewis told “Snapped.”
At the time of his murder, Carmine had been planning on leaving Mary. His son, Dion Lohr, told police he called his father on Jan. 6, 2010, the day after investigators believed Carmine was killed, and Mary answered the phone and said he wasn’t available.
The next day, Lohr called back and again spoke to Mary. “Mary told Carmine’s son that he had taken $250,000 out of the bank and that he was moving to Tubac, Arizona and buying a house,” Murphy told “Snapped.”
Meanwhile, detectives spoke to witnesses at the gas station where Roy worked, and they claimed they had seen him socializing with Mary after Carmine was dead. Investigators retrieved security camera footage that showed her visiting Roy and even bringing him a piece of cake.
Detectives brought Mary back in for questioning, and she admitted that she had told Roy, “Sometimes I wish he’d just drop dead and leave me alone.” She claimed several weeks before the murder, Roy said, “I’m gonna kill him one of these days.” Video footage of her interrogation obtained by “Snapped” finds her tearfully insisting, “I never, ever told Dennis to kill Carmine.”
Following her interview, Mary was charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder.
In the leadup to Dennis Roy’s murder trial, investigators found a note inside his wallet, which had been written two weeks before Carmine’s death.
The note, a copy of which was obtained by “Snapped,” reads, “I have the bat out on my bed. I came so close to using it on that foul-mouthed bastard. OK. If I hear f**k one more time give me the OK. I will kill him. Say yes now.”
This proved Carmine’s murder was premeditated, and instead of offering Roy a plea deal, prosecutors took the case to trial. “He showed Carmine no mercy, and we weren’t going to show him any,” prosecutor Ben David told “Snapped.”
At his trial, Roy took the stand in his own defense and finally came clean about what really happened on the night of Carmine’s murder. He said he and Mary had been having an affair for several months, during which Mary made repeated comments about wanting Carmine dead.
“They were going to get divorced. Carmine was apparently in charge of her money, and she did not want him to be in charge of that anymore,” Lewis told “Snapped.”
The original plan was to kill Carmine and dump his body elsewhere to make it appear that someone else had murdered him. On Jan. 5, 2010, Roy came home from work and got into an argument with Carmine.
Roy went to smoke a cigarette in the garage, and Mary came to him and said, “You know, people die all the time. Carmine’s a jogger. If he was in a park, he could get mugged,” according to Wilmington’s Star-News newspaper.
Later that night, Roy grabbed his aluminum baseball bat and walked into the living room where Carmine was asleep on the couch. “When he came back in, he claimed Mary looked at him and nodded her head, as if to say, ‘Yes,’ at which point Dennis Roy struck Carmine Bruno repeatedly and murdered him,” Murphy told “Snapped.”
The jury found Roy guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Carmine in November 2011. He was sentenced to life in prison, according to Wilmington NBC affiliate WECT.
Mary’s charges were upgraded to conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in connection with the death of Carmine, and rather than take her chance at trial, Mary pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact to first-degree murder in June 2012.
She received a sentence of 92 to 120 months in prison, according to WECT. After serving seven years, she was released, and she currently lives with her brother Jackson.
To hear more, watch “Snapped” now on Oxygen.
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