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5 Fast Facts

Mary Jo Buttafuoco’s Injuries in the Long Island Shooting

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Mary Jo Buttafuoco

Mary Jo Buttafuoco was fortunate to survive when Amy Fisher shot her in the head May 19, 1992. But she suffered permanent injuries in the shooting that would have a lasting effect on her everyday life.

Buttafuoco has endured many surgeries since the one that saved her life. Her healing process has been both physical and mental, and the process was often tied together since she has permanent physical reminders of the trauma. Buttafuoco also works as an advocate for others with facial paralysis, raising funds and spreading awareness for the self-esteem challenges people face, according to PEOPLE.

As medical technologies have improved, Buttafuoco has had surgeries to repair nerve damage. However, she remains deaf in one ear, she has partial paralysis in her face and the bullet – which was too dangerous to remove – remains lodged in her neck.

Here’s what you need to know:


Doctors Called Mary Jo Buttafuoco’s Recovery ‘Miraculous’ When She Survived the Shooting

Doctors were astonished that Mary Jo Buttafuco survived her injuries after she was shot in the head by 17-year-old Amy Fisher, her husband’s lover. The carotid artery in her brain was severed, and she endured surgery for nine hours, according to a May 23, 1992 article in the New York Daily News. The carotid artery is a major artery which supplies blood to the brain. Buttafuoco was shot with a .25-caliber revolver.

She was on a respirator for two days after the surgery. Finally, police were able to interview her. Before the interview, they had no evidence and few leads, the article said. She remained in critical condition that day, but she was still able to give police a description of the teen.

The article said her survival was one “doctors at Nassau County Medical Center termed a ‘miraculous’ recovery.” After police received the description of the shooter from Buttafuoco, they reported the new information to her husband.

“When detectives reported the information to her husband, Joseph, he broke down and told them of the affair and where they could find his young lover,” the article said. “She was pulled over in her car at 6 p.m. Thursday [May 22, 1992] on Merrick Road, a short distance from her home.”


Mary Jo Buttafuoco Suffered Permanent Nerve Damage in the Shooting & Had Surgery in 2006

Mary Jo Buttafuoco’s medical ordeal was far from over when she was released from the hospital following the shooting and her “miraculous” recovery. In 2006, she had multiple surgeries to address some of the lasting damage from her injuries and to enhance her appearance.

A portion of her face is paralyzed, and she is deaf in her right ear, according to a 2006 article from News Day.

“If it suits her, Mary Jo will grasp your wrists, pull you toward her and hold your hands to her face: ‘See, how my jawbone feels different on one side?’” the article said.

Although Buttafuoco told Fisher she forgave her in court, she told News Day she still thinks of the woman every day because of her lasting injuries.

“Even today, though, she thinks of Fisher ‘a lot,’” the article said. “‘Every day, when I look in the mirror and I can’t move my face in a certain way.’”


The Bullet Is Still Lodged in Mary Jo Buttafuco’s Neck Because it Cannot Be Removed

Doctors were unable to remove the bullet, which lodged in Mary Jo Buttafuoco’s neck after the shooting. She was shot in the head with a .25-caliber revolver. It would be too dangerous for doctors to remove the bullet. The New York Times reported on the long-term injuries in an April 23, 1999 article. The newspaper was covering a parole hearing for Amy Fisher, who was asking for early release from prison after spending about seven years in the Albion Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

During the hearing, Fisher apologized to Butafuoco, and Butafuoco accepted the apology, even asking the court to grant Fisher’s request for early release.

The New York Times reported:

Mrs. Buttafuoco, who still has the bullet lodged in her neck and suffers from lingering nerve damage, said she accepted the apology and urged the judge to release Ms. Fisher from prison so she could start a new life. The judge accepted her request and reduced Ms. Fisher’s sentence, making her eligible for parole.

‘She has shown true remorse and sorrow for what she did to me,’ Mrs. Buttafuoco, 44, told the court. She then turned to Amy and said, ‘You are being given a second chance in life, and I pray you will take it and make something positive out of all this tragedy.’

The women then came together in the middle of the silent courtroom, clasped hands and looked into each other’s eyes. ‘I’m sorry. I’m truly very sorry,’ Ms. Fisher said.


25 Years After the Shooting, Mary Jo Buttafuoco had Surgery that Allows her to Smile Again

Mary Jo Buttafuoco has had a long series of surgeries. In 2017, 25 years after she was shot by Amy Fisher, she had a surgery which allowed her to smile again. The nerve damage in her face caused partial paralysis. A doctor gave her a face lift and repaired some of the nerves in her face that allow her to smile, according to Inside Edition.

Every day looking in the mirror was a reminder of the shooting. She struggled with self-esteem issues because of the damage to her face.

“I’m always aware,” Buttafuoco told the reporter. “As I’m talking to you, I’m aware of it.”

Repairing her smile was another step toward healing.

“It’s the first time in 25 years that when I smile, I can see the side of my teeth,” she said.

She is also actively involved in raising funds and awareness of the challenges of facial paralysis, according to PEOPLE.

“It’s very, very difficult,” she said. “When you see somebody, the first thing you notice is their smile, and their face.”

READ NEXT: Amy Fisher Today: Where Is She Now in 2019?


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