Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scary Love (a true story)

I seriously have the most fucked up story to tell you.

It is in your best interest to read every word, or you won't experience the same kind of horror I did, when I first learned the tale.

If you're a little older than me, or perhaps from New York, you may know this story already.

It is the story of Linda Riss and Burt Pugach.

I recently saw a documentary about the couple.

In 1959, Burt Pugach was a successful 30-something-year-old lawyer in New York City. He was driving with a buddy in the Bronx one day, when he saw a gorgeous young woman sitting on a bench. He practically jumped out of the moving car to introduce himself to thd beauty.

She was 21-year-old Linda Riss, a kind-hearted girl from a poor family.

Dazzled by his wealth and charm, Linda agreed to go out with Burt, much to the delight of her lower middle class family. Burt took her to the hottest clubs in New York City, showing her off to his jealous friends. Linda became absolutely smitten with the adoring older man.

But one day, Linda found out that Burt was married, with a young daughter. She was heart-broken and disgusted. She broke off their relationship. Burt begged her to come back to him and even showed her some divorce papers to prove he was leaving his wife.

Linda was about to relent, because she loved Burt, but then her family's lawyer discovered that the divorce papers were fake. Burt had no intention of leaving his family for her. So, Linda broke things off with Burt for good.

Burt begged her to come back. She wouldn't relent. He started to become obsessed with her. He called her apartment dozens of times per day. He called her family and her friends. He stood across from her apartment every day. He followed her everywhere she went.

He event sent her a threatening note, saying if he couldn't have her, nobody could.

Linda was frightened and went to the police several times. But 1959 was a time before stalking laws were in place. The police shrugged off the incidents and told Linda there was nothing she could do.

Meanwhile, Linda tried desperately to move on with her life. She soon met a very handsome young man and they became engaged.

When Burt heard about the engagement, he was livid. Overwhelmed by jealousy and hatred, he hired a few men off the street and whispered a plan to them.

One afternoon, the doorbell rang at Linda's apartment. Linda's mom answered it and called out to her daughter that it was a deliveryman with a wedding package.

When Linda came into the doorway, the fake delivery man threw acid in her face.

The 23-year-old beauty was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and was there for several days.

But it was too late. She was blind and facially disfigured.

The incident made national news. Burt was the most hated man in America that year. He received 14 years in prison.

Despite the sympathy pouring in from millions of people, Linda's life was destroyed.

Her fiance broke off their engagement. Not because Linda was no longer beautiful, but because he simply couldn't afford to take care of her, now that she was visually handicapped.

For the rest of her 20s, Linda dated various men, but the relationships all ended when she took off her sunglasses and revealed the horror underneath.

She became painfully depressed and incredibly lonely. She spent the next decade holed up in her tiny apartment in New York City, hating her life.

And during those years, Burt never left her alone. He called her from jail every week and wrote her letters every day. He was still obsessed with her. She couldn't escape him.

In 1974, Burt was released from jail and he immediately contacted Linda, desperate to see her in person. Against her better judgement, Linda accepted.

When she went to see Burt for dinner, he apologized for ruining her life and asked her to marry him.

Linda accepted.

Although she hated Burt for what he had done, she could tell he was truly sorry and he still loved her. Plus, she was lonely and living in squalor. The finally-divorced Burt was a wealthy meal ticket who could take care of her. She truly didn't believe she had anyone else. She was desperate.

The two married that year.

Their marriage shocked the entire nation. They were the subject of every talk show, news report, and magazine article in the country that year.

Linda's family and friends were appalled. But Linda saw it a different way. She felt she finally had a man who still thought she was beautiful, despite the physical damage he had caused. Plus, what better payback than to force him to see what he had done every single day for the rest of his life?

Their marriage appeared to be oddly blissful until 1997, when a young woman accused Burt of threatening her life. Although Linda was hurt when she discovered her husband had been having an affair with the woman, she was a character witness during the trial, stating her husband wouldn't harm a fly.

It worked, because he was found innocent.

Burt and Linda are still married today. Happily.

What do you think?

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