Crime & Courts

Colucci Retrial: A Family Unraveling

Inside the implosion …

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From the outside looking in Sara Lynn Colucci and her husband, Michael Colucci, appeared to have the perfect life. Though theirs was a second marriage (for both of them), they had daughters who were almost the same age – and the couple worked together at their family-owned business. But like many relationships, things weren’t as picture perfect as they seemed.

Their love story soon became a struggle for survival – with economic woes and drug addiction conspiring to spoil the “fairy tale romance.” Hours before she died, Sara allegedly told her mother she was leaving her husband – citing drugs as the reason.

How did it all unravel? And how did that unraveling ultimately end in Sara’s suspicious death/ alleged murder on the evening of May 20, 2015?

For that, we have to go back to the very beginning of the story …

The Coluccis were introduced by a mutual friend in 2009, six years before her lifeless body was found on a cement slab next to a fence outside of one of the family’s jewelry stores with a black garden hose wrapped around her neck.

“As many of you know, Michael was in the midst of several personal battles, and I was a widow with many reservations to date anyone at the time,” Sara Lynn wrote on the couple’s wedding website.

The relationship began with months of short phone calls – and consistent prodding from their friend – before the two finally agreed to meet for a dinner date in Summerville. According to Sara, one of her friends was on standby “in the event I needed a quick escape.”

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“Needless to say when I saw him for the first time, It was love at first sight,” Sara wrote. “It was the best date I have ever gone on and it felt as if he and I had known each other for years. I told my mom the next day, as well as several other people who inquired about the date, that ‘he and I will get married.'”

Sara lost her first husband, Michael Vieira, following an “accidental stabbing” in Horry County in 2007. According to Michael Colucci’s attorneys, Vieira was stabbed 27 times and died as a result of his injuries. FITSNews has submitted multiple FOIA requests in an attempt to get additional details regarding Vieira’s untimely – and bizarre – death.

Michael Colucci was also on the rebound after having separating from his first wife in 2008. Their divorce was finalized in December 2010.

Once he and Sara met, they seemed to be a perfect match.

“He is my one, and always will be,” she wrote.

The couple married at 6:30 p.m. EDT on June 24, 2011 at the historic French Hugenot Church on Queen Street in Charleston, S.C. – with a civil ceremony following on September 12, 2012 to make things official. Life seemed to be looking up for Sara after the tragic loss of her first husband. She had married the man of her dreams … or so she thought.

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The Coluccis (Provided)

WHO IS MICHAEL COLUCCI?

Michael Colucci was born in 1970 to Doris Duane Colucci. His surname was Antonio, but he changed it to Colucci after his mother got married his step-father, Ivo Colucci. Ivo was born in Naples, Italy and hailed from a family of jewelers. His first jewelry store was located in New York City in 1959. In 1975, he relocated to Charleston and thereafter continued the expansion of his jewelry businesses across the Lowcountry.

Michael married his first wife, Mary Camilla, in 1997. They had one daughter prior to divorcing. In 2000, Michael opened his own jewelry store in Summerville – Colucci’s Jewelers. After Michael and Sara Lynn were married, the couple ran the business together — using the small loft in the store as a playroom for their two young daughters. It was a family affair and every aspect of their lives was intertwined with their thriving business.

“I love coming to work, being with my husband and having the flexibility to have my children come here,” Sara told Charleston Living Magazine in 2012. “It is a real blessing.”

In the same interview, Sara previewed future plans to open a new business in Summerville, The Gold Standard. The venture was described by Sara as a “comfortable environment” for customers to sell their unwanted gold pieces. Once sold, the gold would be used to create new jewelry and other items instead of being shipped out of state – giving new life to beloved family heirlooms.

Ironically, and tragically, it was at this location – the supposed source of new life – that Sara lost her life on that fateful spring evening in May 2015.

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When their workdays were done, the Coluccis lived in a spacious Moncks Corner, S.C. home purchased for Sara by her parents. At some point after marrying – unbeknownst to Sara’s parents – Michael Colucci adopted Sara’s young daughter. After Sara’s death, Michael stayed with her parents for a short time before moving to Ivo and Doris’ Summerville home with Sara’s daughter in July of 2015.

Sara’s daughter remained there until Michael was formally charged with murder on May 4, 2016 – a year after Sara’s death. After Michael Colucci’s indictment, Sara’s daughter was removed from the home via a court order and placed in the care of Sara’s parents. A wrongful death lawsuit (.pdf) filed against Michael by the estate of Sara Lynn Colucci alleged that during the time she resided at Ivo and Doris Colucci’s home, Sara’s young daughter was “exposed to domestic violence, drug use, and misled about the events surrounding her mother’s death.”

Given what happened less than a year after Sara’s daughter was placed in the care of her parents, those allegations seem eminently plausible …

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ANOTHER COLUCCI FAMILY TRAGEDY …

On April 14, 2017, officers with the North Charleston police department responded to reports of a shooting at 7565 Rivers Avenue (.pdf) – the location of Ivo Colucci’s store, The Jewelry Factory. When they arrived, several witnesses were waiting outside the store yelling, “he shot her.”

Ivo Colucci exited the store seconds later and told officers, “I shot her and the gun’s inside.”

Upon entering the store, first responders found 74-year old Doris Colucci dead from a gunshot wound to the head. The entire incident was reportedly witnessed by their 12-year old granddaughter.

A probable cause affidavit filed the next day with Ivo Colucci’s arrest warrent provided additional details (.pdf). According to the affidavit, Ivo Colucci entered into the business and became involved in a verbal altercation with his wife. During the altercation, surveillance video showed Ivo pulling a gun out of his pocket and shooting Doris in the back of the head. Ivo then hid the gun on the counter and retrieved the shell casing that was ejected during the shooting – placing it in his pocket.

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Ivo Colucci (Al Cannon Detention Center)

Ivo Colucci had previously been diagnosed with dementia and his behavior had been spiraling downward in the year before the murder. According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Doris Colucci’s estate (.pdf), he had “regularly exhibited angry outbursts and engaged in arguments with (her) at the jewelry store, even threatening violence.” Store employees were frequently witnesses to these arguments – which revolved around money, Ivo Colucci’s mental health, and their son’s murder case.

A second lawsuit filed by Ivo Colucci’s granddaughter contained similar claims (.pdf).

Prior to Doris Colucci’s death, Ivo’s biological children had sought to block Doris from managing his health care and finances. The civil lawsuit claimed the efforts of the children – designed to protect their inheritance – prevented Ivo Colucci from receiving the care he deserved, which resulted in Doris’ murder.

Ivo Colucci’s attorneys claimed that given his dementia, he was not competent to stand trail for the murder of his wife. A judge agreed and Colucci ultimately did not stand trial for the murder of his wife. Ivo Colucci died on November 9, 2020 at the Summerville Community Hospice House. There was no mention of his stepson in his obituary.

As for the legal actions against him, the wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Doris Colucci’s estate settled for $700,000 (.pdf), while the personal injury lawsuit filed on behalf of his granddaughter settled for $760,000 (.pdf).

As the retrial of Michael Colucci rapidly approaches, FITSNews will continue to explore the complex civil and criminal cases surrounding the Colucci family – while also filing an in-depth story on the declining state of Sara and Michael Colucci’s finances leading up to her death on May 20, 2015.

Stay tuned to FITSNews for comprehensive coverage of the latest developments in this ongoing saga and full coverage of the upcoming trial – which is scheduled to begin on May 13, 2024 in Berkeley County.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at jenn@fitsnews.com.

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2 comments

Avatar photo
The Colonel Top fan May 1, 2024 at 3:35 pm

This tall tale of Michael Colucci is making less sense by the minute – take a look at the photo of their store. The two doors on the right are bathroom doors – that have apparently been there since that building was built as a gas station 70-80 years ago. Why was Sara squeezing around a dirty side yard to pee when she could have just gone into the toilets? How prosecutors lost this in the first place is a testament to one of three things:
1- Andy Savage’s ability to spin the tale
2 – Their own incompetence as prosecutors
3 – The gullibility/idiocy of the jurors
Maybe all three…

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Rebecca Shields Top fan May 2, 2024 at 9:01 am

It is really hard to believe how he wasn’t convicted the first time. Prosecutors must have been sleep walking.

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