Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Grisly Discovery in Ho-Ho-Kus

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Grisly Discovery in Ho-Ho-Kus

Article excerpt

A 24-year-old former standout lacrosse player has been charged with murder and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in the death of his mother, who was found beaten and stabbed to death in the family's Ho-Ho-Kus home early Monday morning, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said.

Nicholas Piotti was being held Monday evening at Bergen Regional Medical Center for examination and bail was set at $2 million, Molinelli said.

An aborted 911 call brought Ho-Ho-Kus police to 11 Timberline Road around 3:30 a.m. Monday, where officers found Karen Piotti, 63, with multiple stab wounds and "beating trauma," Molinelli said.

In a community that rarely sees violent crime, Piotti's slaying - - and the arrest of her son, whom friends and neighbors described as "friendly," with no family dynamic out of the ordinary -- came as a shock at the end of a holiday weekend. On Monday evening, authorities had not released any known motive for the crime.

Bergen Regional is the county's main psychiatric hospital. Molinelli declined to comment on whether authorities believe mental health troubles played a role in the case, but said no "physical issues" were involved in Nicholas Piotti's hospital stay.

Nicholas Piotti's first court appearance has been scheduled for Wednesday before Bergen County Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila- Silebi in Hackensack.

The 911 caller's identity was not known Monday evening, Molinelli said. James Piotti, Karen Piotti's husband, was not at home at the time of the killing, which is believed to be sometime after midnight Monday morning, Molinelli said.

Neighbors and former classmates of Nicholas Piotti said his mother was heavily involved in his early education, as a Cub Scouts volunteer, field-trip chaperone and organizer of the eighth-grade graduation dance.

Dan Marsiglia, who attended school with Nicholas Piotti through eighth grade, said he never noticed any family discord. Marsiglia said he used to enjoy going to the Piotti house for pool parties and remembered attending a Halloween scary-movie fest.

"They were nice people," Marsiglia said. "I was always friendly with Nick, and I didn't think there was any tension or anything between them."

He said Nicholas Piotti was outgoing, talkative and "very friendly to everybody."

But the two parted ways for high school. Piotti attended Ridgewood High School, where he excelled on the lacrosse team: Piotti played on the Group III state championship teams in 2006 and 2008 and on the Bergen County Tournament Championship team in 2008, according to college athletics records.

Piotti went on to play lacrosse at St. John's University in Queens; school athletics records suggest that he transferred to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where he also played lacrosse. Neighbors said he graduated from Marist in 2012. …

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