Former model kills boyfriend and herself in Holmdel tragedy
By Sue Epstein
March 06, 2010, 10:00PM
Saed Hindash/The Star-Ledger The burned out shell of a small cottage at 125 Red Hill Road in Holmdel, where an apparent murder suicide took place when it was set on fire Wednesday night. Carina Schlesinger, 36, a former model apparently shot her boyfriend, Daniel Cresci, then set her home on fire as she shot herself.
No one had heard from Daniel Cresci for days not his mother, his father or his friends. By Wednesday evening, they were worried.
In their search to find him, his younger brother and a friend said they drove to the house of his girlfriend, former model Carina Schlesinger.
As they approached her cottage in a rural section of Holmdel, they were overwhelmed by the smell of gasoline. In the darkness, Jonathan Cresci and Scott Broschart saw what looked like a candle flickering in a back window and then flames.
It was only later they learned that the loud explosion that followed was former model Carina Schlesinger shooting herself in the head, Broschart, a longtime friend of Cresci, said in an interview yesterday.
Before committing suicide on Wednesday evening, Schlesinger, 36, had shot 29-year-old Daniel Cresci to death in her one-bedroom home on Red Hill Road. Then, she set the house on fire and shot herself, authorities said.
okie" who saved Carina from a would be attacker in Central Park, during the North Shore Animal League's 60 year celebration at The Garden City Hotel in Garden City in 2004.
As they watched the cottage burn, Jonathan Cresci called his father, Victor, who immediately came to Holmdel. When firefighters told him there were two bodies in the burning home, Victor Cresci said, "it was easily the worst moment of my life."
Friends said Cresci, who had been dating Schlesinger for about 18 months, lived with his parents in Middletown but spent time at Schlesinger’s cottage, where she ran her dog obedience business, the New Jersey State Dog Training School.
Jonathan Cresci said that Daniel Cresci had not been heard from since Sunday, and "that was very unlike him," Broschart recounted.
Jonathan Cresci had called Schlesinger on Tuesday to ask about his brother’s whereabouts, and she seemed emotionally unstable.
"He said she was all over the place," said Broschart, 30, of Hazlet. "She changed her story several times and wasn’t making sense."
The next day, Victor Cresci said he called her to ask about his son. Schlesinger told him she had taken Cookie to the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital and had the dog put down.
Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Peter Warshaw said he believed the dog’s body was found in the house by firefighters.
By Wednesday night, the family’s conversations with Schlesinger prompted Jonathan Cresci to ask Broschart to go with him to Schlesinger’s house. Sometime after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, he and Broschart rang the doorbell and knocked repeatedly, but got no answer. Broschart called 911 after they saw the flames.
Firefighters discovered the bodies of Schlesinger and Cresci inside the cottage, after extinguishing the fire.
Broschart, who said he was speaking for Cresci’s relatives, said they thought Schlesinger "genuinely loved Daniel." However, he said they told him recently she had been acting very strangely. Victor Cresci also said Daniel had told him that Schlesinger was on antidepressants.
Warshaw would not say yesterday what led to the shootings or how much time had elapsed between Cresci’s shooting and the fire. He said Cresci may have been killed in the days prior to the fire.
Cresci first met Schlesinger when she was training a dog in a field behind his parents’ house in Middletown, Broschart said.
Broschart said he had never met Schlesinger, but Cresci talked about her often.
"He was in love with her," said Broschart, who did not sense anything unusual about the relationship. "They had their up and down moments, just like most couples."y of Scott Broschart
Daniel Cresci was a pilot, a lawyer and an aspiring restaurateur. The 29-year-old's life was cut short by his girlfriend's bullet, police believe.
Schlesinger had previously made headlines in 2004, when she was the victim of an attempted rape in New York City’s Central Park. She had been walking her Shepherd mix, Cookie, when assailant Tito Rodriguez grabbed her by the hair and ordered her to perform a sex act on him, police said.
Schlesinger and her dog fought back. The DNA tests conducted on the blood drawn by Cookie’s bites eventually led investigators to Rodriguez, who was ultimately sentenced to 125 years in prison.
Schlesinger’s defiant attitude during the 2005 trial made her and her dog tabloid sensations.
"He belongs in a cage," Schlesinger told Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Ronald Zweibel before Rodriguez’s sentencing, according to Daily News reports. "Put him where he belongs and don’t let him out."
Schlesinger, originally from Denmark, was divorced and rented the house in Holmdel late last year. Previously, she had lived in Middletown with her former husband, Daniel, according to public records.
The couple separated in 2009. A forfeiture notice was served on their property in Amagansett, N.Y., last month, which said the couple had defaulted on a $550,000 mortgage.
Schlesinger’s family could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Broschart said he had known Cresci since they were teenagers. As a young man, Cresci had wanted to become a fighter pilot and joined the U.S. Air Force, but was later diagnosed with a vision problem that prevented him from fulfilling his dream.
He decided to become an attorney instead, and attended Rutgers University law school, graduating in 2008. Cresci represented Schlesinger on several legal issues, after they met that year, Broschart said.
Victor Cresci said Daniel represented Schlesinger when she and her dog were accused of attacking Holmdel police officers after they had arrived at the home several months ago to check on her. He also represented her in a civil suit filed by another dog training and day care business.
While in law school, Cresci also spent hours in his parents’ garage, trying to perfect a formula for the best pizza. He and Broschart had planned to start a pizza restaurant later this year.
After his death, relatives and Broschart said they hoped to some day open the pizzeria, to follow through on Cresci’s ambition.
"Daniel was so dynamic," Broschart said. "He was an amazing individual. He was outgoing and very driven, determined."
Julie O’Connor and David Giambusso contributed to this report.