Aloof girlfriend gets life for murder, dismemberment

There were tears in a Pierce County courtroom Friday, but none came from convicted murderer Renee Ray Curtiss.

Curtiss, 55, maintained the same stoic public demeanor she has since her arrest last year as Superior Court Judge Kitty-Ann van Doorninck sentenced her to life in prison in the 1978 death of Joseph Tarricone.

Before pronouncing sentence, Van Doorninck commented on Curtiss’ apparent lack of remorse for Tarricone’s death and dismemberment, the latter of which Curtiss admitted she participated in following his death.

“It’s truly appalling in terms of believing that she’s a human being,” the judge said as some of Curtiss’ relatives sobbed in the gallery.

A jury convicted Curtiss of first-degree murder earlier this month after deliberating for a little more than three hours.

Deputy prosecutor Dawn Farina contended Curtiss convinced her brother to kill Tarricone, 53, because she’d grown tired of his romantic advances.

Tarricone’s remains lay buried in the yard of a Summit-area home until 2007 when a construction crew clearing the lot for a strip mall unearthed them.

Curtiss admitted on the witness stand that she assisted her brother, Nicholas Notaro, in dismembering the body but denied soliciting Tarricone’s death.

Curtiss, who declined to speak Friday, maintained that assertion through her attorney, Gary Clower.

“She did want me to let the court know that she never wanted any harm brought to Mr. Tarricone and that she’s very, very sorry,” said Clower, who filed a notice that his client intends to appeal.

A different jury convicted Notaro, 60, of first-degree murder, and van Doorninck sentenced him to life in prison earlier this month.

Two of Tarricone’s seven children told the judge there was no doubt in their minds that Curtiss orchestrated their father’s death.

“I believe she was the mastermind,” the victim’s daughter, Gypsy Tarricone, said while wiping at tears. “They slaughtered my father like a pig. He didn’t deserve that. He was a good man.”

The victim’s son Dean Tarricone called Curtiss “an animal.”

Van Doorninck had no choice but to sentence Curtiss to life in prison.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644