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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Revenge
Number of victims: 5
Date of murder: November 17, 1950
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: May 27, 1924
Victims profile: His wife Theresa Mazzoli and members of her family
Method of murder: Shooting (a Luger converted to automatic, a Mauser C96, and a .32 caliber rifle)
Location: Gloucester County, New Jersey, USA
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment, 1951. Died in prison on October 7, 1995

Ernest Ingenito (1924–1995) was an American mass murderer who shot nine people, his wife Theresa (Mazzoli) and her family, killing five, on November 17, 1950 in Franklin Township, New Jersey, and Minotola, New Jersey.


Ingenito was born in Wildwood, New Jersey, on May 27, 1924, to Ernest and his wife, Helen (née Martin) Ingenito. He was the oldest of three children. The family moved frequently between Wildwood and Philadelphia, and his parents—who argued constantly—finally separated when he was thirteen. Ingenito first got in trouble for stealing when he was ten and was first sent to a reformatory at fourteen. He continued to go in and out of reformatories for the next few years, until he was paroled and allowed to return to Wildwood to live with his mother.

He married briefly in 1941 but his abusive treatment and womanizing quickly drove his wife away. He briefly served in the US Army; during World War II, he was stationed at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. But he was dishonorably discharged in 1946 after being court-martialed twice: once for going AWOL, and a second for striking two superior officers. He served two years of an eight-year sentence at Green Haven, the military prison at Sing Sing, for the second offense.

Shortly after his discharge, Ingenito married 21-year-old Theresa Mazzoli, the daughter of Michael and Pearl Mazzoli, who owned a truck farm on Piney Hollow Road in Franklin Township in Gloucester County, New Jersey. Theresa convinced Ingenito to move in with her family and the young couple initially appeared to have had a happy marriage. Ingenito worked on the farm and they had two sons. While Ingenito got along well with his father-in-law Michael, he did not like his mother-in-law, Pearl.

The relationship between Ingenito and his wife and her family rapidly deteriorated after he took an outside job at a local appliance store. When Michael learned that his son-in-law was seeing other women, he threw Ingenito out of the house. Ingenito moved a few miles away to board with Al and Kay Rulis, friends of his father. As Theresa proceeded with plans for a divorce, Ingenito reportedly contacted lawyers about seeing his children. In the meantime, he had taken up target shooting and began buying ammunition at local stores for his growing gun collection. On the night of November 17, 1950, he decided to take the law into his own hands.


At about 8 p.m. on November 17, 1950, Ingenito armed himself with a Luger converted to automatic, a Mauser C96, and a .32 caliber rifle and drove to the Mazzoli house. He confronted Theresa and demanded to see their children; when Michael intervened, Ingenito shot him twice, killing him. As Theresa fled into the adjacent dining room, he shot her in the stomach and shoulder.

When his mother-in-law Pearl fled across the street to her parent's home, Ingenito followed. He shot her mother, Theresa Pioppi, in the doorway, then stepped over her body to shoot and kill his wife's pregnant aunt, Marion Pioppi. He wounded his wife's nine-year-old cousin Jeannie, then shot and killed Pearl Mazzoli, who tried to hide in a closet. Ingenito also killed John Pioppi, one of Pearl's brothers, who had chased after Ingenito with a knife.

Ingenito continued his killing spree, driving to Minotola, where Theresa's aunt and uncle, Frank and Hilda Mazzoli, lived. He shot both of them, in front of their two younger children. Although critically wounded, both survived. Ernie was arrested by the New Jersey State Police. Although he confessed everything during questioning, he later refused to sign a statement admitting his guilt.

Sentencing and Later Life

Ingenito was initially sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Pearl Mazzoli. His lawyer, Frank Sahl, was able to persuade the jury that they did not want the responsibility of sending him to the electric chair. While all four counts of assault were dismissed, five years passed before he was brought to court on the four additional murder charges. Although his attorneys initially planned to plead that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, they later changed that plea to one of "no contest" on all four counts. The judge allowed him to serve all five sentences concurrently. Since New Jersey did not have a life sentence without possibility of parole at the time, he was released in 1978 and lived in Trenton, where he worked for Trap Rock Industries.

Ingenito expressed no remorse about his killing spree, and reportedly bragged about it to friends and associates. In 1994, he was arrested again, this time for sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor of the eight-year old daughter of a girlfriend. He died in custody on October 7, 1995.


  • Blackwell, John. Notorious New Jersey: 100 True Tales of Murders and Mobsters, Scandals and Scoundrels. Rutgers University Press: Piscataway, 2007. pp. 69–71 (paperback edition)

  • Martinelli, Patricia A. "Rain of Bullets: The True Story of Ernest Ingenito's Bloody Family Massacre." Stackpole Books: Mechanicsburg, PA, 2010.

  • Nash, Jay Robert. Bloodletters and Badmen: A Narrative Encyclopedia of American Criminals From the Pilgrims to the Present. M. Evans and Company: New York, 1973. pp. 261–263 (note: Nash miscounts the number of victims as eight)


Ernest Ingenito





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