Details of Disappearance
Rita was last seen in the New York City borough of the Bronx on the morning of August 10, 1986. She had worked for the International Paper Company since 1974 and was supposed to attend a business meeting in Chicago, Illinois that day, but she never showed up. She has never been heard from again.
Her former husband, Robert C. Fioretti, stated she left after they got into an argument. At the time of her disappearance, Rita was living with her two sons in the 400 block of King Avenue in the City Island neighborhood. Robert, a police officer, lived in Queens with his radio patrol partner, who was pregnant with his daughter.
Robert stated Rita had left many times before with other men, and that she had a drinking problem and psychiatric problems. Others close to Rita disputed this characterisation, however, describing her as a responsible employee and devoted parent who would not have left without warning. Besides her children, her closest living relative in 1986 was a stepsister who lived in Maryland.
Robert forged Rita's name on two bank withdrawal slips and stole $17,617, all the money in Rita's bank accounts, on October 7, 1986. He had apparently divorced Rita in 1974, three years into their marriage and twelve years before she vanished. He somehow concealed the fact from her and they continued to live together for years, separating only in 1985.
Rita filed for divorce after Robert left her, only to discover, shortly before her disappearance, that she was already divorced. Only days after Rita's family reported her missing, Robert moved into her home with his girlfriend and her two daughters. He married her a month later. All of his children and stepchildren were eventually placed in foster care.
Robert is the prime suspect in Rita's disappearance. Authorities believe that foul play was involved in her case and have investigated it as a presumed homicide. Robert has never been charged in connection with Rita's disappearance, but he was convicted of bank fraud in 1992. At his sentencing hearing, the prosecution sought the maximum penalty because of Robert's status as a suspect in Rita's disappearance.
Later that year, on the eve of his trial, Robert also pleaded guilty to sexually abusing his stepdaughters. He served twenty years in prison and also spent some time in a secure psychiatric hospital for sex offenders. He was released in 2009 and now lives in Brooklyn. Photos of him are posted with this case summary.
Investigators believe Rita's remains may have been placed in the Hudson River in New York shortly after she vanished, but she has never been located. The headless body of a female was recovered from the river in 1988 and from spinal X-rays authorities initially believed it was Rita, but further testing with DNA ruled out that possibility. Rita's case remains unsolved.
The authors Ernest Volkman and John Cummings wrote a book about the Fioretti case, called Till Murder Do Us Part; it was published in 1994.