Naples woman killed in Arizona tried to flee domestic violence, family says

Amanda Blaies-Rinaldi, 28, shown in her 2001 Barron Collier High School yearbook photo, was found dead by officers at an Arizona home.

Photo by BCHS yearbook

Amanda Blaies-Rinaldi, 28, shown in her 2001 Barron Collier High School yearbook photo, was found dead by officers at an Arizona home.

Anthony Rinaldi

Anthony Rinaldi

Amanda Blaies-Rinaldi's family desperately tried to get her away from her abusive husband.

They encouraged the 28-year-old woman to move from Naples to Arizona, where they lived, to put distance between the couple.

"My mom has told her so many times to get away," said her sister Lea Miller, 35. "She kept on saying 'I love him.'"

On Tuesday night in Phoenix, Anthony Rinaldi, 26, shot his wife in their home, left their two sons alone and turned himself in to police.

"She is definitely dead," Rinaldi told an officer he flagged down, according to an arrest report. "I put two to the chest and one to the head."

The couple met in Naples 2½ years ago, where Blaies-Rinaldi grew up, her mother, Pamela Blaies of Arizona, said Thursday in a phone interview.

Blaies-Rinaldi and her twin brother Jonny Blaies attended Barron Collier High School. They left after their junior year to study cosmetology.

She and Anthony Rinaldi knew each other briefly when she became pregnant in 2009, her mother said. Three months later, they married in Naples while Rinaldi was on military leave from his duties as an Army sniper based in Germany.

Their son, Anthony, was born in March 2010, six years after Blaies-Rinaldi's first son, Aidan.

There was little love lost between Blaies-Rinaldi's family and her husband.

"He kept on yelling at her, cussing at her," Miller said.

Collier County court records show that in May 2010, Blaies-Rinaldi filed a petition against her "soon-to-be ex-husband" and obtained a temporary order of protection for her and her sons. But it was dismissed when she didn't show up for a hearing.

Her petition said Rinaldi slammed his fists through walls, broke door frames and light switches, and smashed a box of glasses and plant pots in their East Naples home on Sanctuary Drive. She attached photos of the damage.

"He has said that I don't know what goes on in his head, he has killed people and it's nothing to him to do so," Blaies-Rinaldi wrote, adding that he told her he abused prescription pain killers and steroids, and had post-traumatic stress disorder from the military.

After a fight that month over the Arizona move, she said, he punched a hole in the wall.

"I went to my eldest son's room (because) I was concerned he was awake and heard everything," she wrote. "He was indeed and said 'Dad's mad again, Mom. He scares me!'"

Blaies-Rinaldi's mother said they begged her to leave. She tried to break free. She went to Arizona with her sons, obtained her child care license and ran a day care at home.

But Anthony Rinaldi followed.

"She was scared of him, but she wanted it to work, like any mother would, for her family," said Tori Anderson, a Naples hairdresser, Blaies-Rinaldi's best friend and godmother to her oldest son. "She said 'If anything happens to me, I want you to know who did it.'"

“She was so strong," Anderson said of Blais-Rinaldi, who worked at Tommy Bahamas and Roy's Restaurant. "She fought and fought for her life and she overcame cancer. This man just took it away.”

When a person is in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to discern how bad the problems are, said Mary Ann Green, spokeswoman for the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples. The most dangerous time, she said, is when victims say they want to leave — or make plans.

"You want to believe somebody's going to change if you love them," Green said. "But it's really hard once you're in that cycle again to see clearly."

Blaies-Rinaldi showed signs of wanting to end the cycle.

Her husband moved out of their Phoenix home two months ago, her mother said.

"She got him out of the house," Pamela Blaies said. "She was going to file divorce papers. He kept begging her not to do it, scaring her (that) she wouldn't have any money or benefits."

Rinaldi returned around Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday evening, after arguing over a credit card he took from her, Blaies-Rinaldi began decorating their Christmas tree. Anthony Rinaldi asked her to stop, then called Blaies screaming that her daughter wouldn't stop and that she was "ruining the moment," Blaies said.Blaies wanted to call the police, however, her daughter asked her not to.

"It'll just make it worse," Blaies recalls her saying.

Police reports show that at about 6:30 p.m., 7-year-old Aidan made the call, telling a dispatcher his mother and stepfather were physically fighting and he heard "boom boom boom" from the garage. Within a half-hour, police found Blaise-Rinaldi's body and her husband was jailed on a second-degree murder charge.

The arrest report said Anthony Rinaldi had control issues, a history of domestic violence and violence against children or animals. It lists "possible mental issues, including military PTSD." He told police he "snapped" and his "military training kicked in."

Pamela Blaies said that conflicts with the history of domestic violence her daughter suffered.

"This is the final thing he did," Pamela Blaies said. "He did it to take her away (because) he hated us all."

Pamela Blaies now has custody of the children. Memorial services will be held in Arizona and Naples.

Staff reporter Jacob Carpenter contributed to this report.

Actions to consider in a domestic violence situation

■ Call 911 in emergencies and report the violence

■ Seek an injunction for protection to keep the abuser away

■ Have medical staff document injuries and their cause

■ Keep a journal and photos of the abuse (keep this in a spot where the abuser will not find it)

Source: The Shelter for Abused Women & Children in Naples

For more information: or call the Shelter’s confidential 24-hour crisis line (239) 775-1101.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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