Reporting Tony Aiello
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBS 2/WCBS 880) – A Manhattan jeweler whose clients included Donald Trump and Yoko Ono was convicted Wednesday of killing his wife and then incinerating her body in an oil drum.
The relief felt by the victim’s family and friends was immense after the second trial of Werner Lippe ended with a guilty verdict, reports CBS 2′s Tony Aiello.
“It’s been a long time, two trials,” the victim’s friend, Lou Caporosa said. “The effect of this act on a lot of people’s lives is really what eats at you.”
“That man belongs behind bars for the rest of his life,” said Shari Caradonna, the victim’s cousin. “That’s what he’s getting. It’s just a relief.”
Just last February, a hung jury voted 7-5 to acquit Lippe, apparently believing a confession was coerced.
The jury in the retrial, though, needed just two days to convict him of murdering his third wife, Faith.
“To us it was so clear,” Gary Caradonna said. “I don’t know why they had trouble the first time, but we’re happy. We’re happy it’s over with, and now we can move on.”
Two years ago this month, police were crawling around Lippe’s million-dollar home in northern Westchester, searching for clues, after Faith Lippe vanished.
Lippe claimed his wife disappeared under very mysterious circumstances – that he saw her getting into a jeep and being whisked away from their home, leaving her purse and cell phone behind.
Police say they never believed that story, and that the couple was going through a bitter divorce.
A friend wearing a recording device caught Lippe admitting he’d killed his wife, burned her body in an oil drum, and scattered the ashes.
Faith Lippe’s sister, Dawn Faigle, said it was the culmination of years of abusive behavior.
“I’ve watched Werner Lippe’s abuse for years, and with this conviction, he has now been brought to justice,” Faigle said.
Family and friends will return to the courthouse in March, when Werner Lippe is scheduled to be sentenced. He faces 25 years to life in prison.
The couple’s two children are now 16 and 14 years old. They live with a family friend in Westchester County.