CLIFTON, N.J. — Stella Tulli of Garfield thought the man she was with when her sister, Viviana Tulli, was brutally murdered at 21 years old, was the one she had to be with.
After all, he saw her through her darkest days. They had children together. But that didn't stop the relationship from going sour, she said.
Eventually, Tulli had had enough. Days after filing for divorce, she received a friend request on Facebook from Ray Larger, then of Washington Township.
Larger, an Elmwood Park native, had lost both of his parents as a teen and carried that loss for decades. He turned to drugs and alcohol, spiraling deeper into a dark hole, desperate for love all along.
Four years into Larger's sobriety, he and Tulli met up at the Saddle Brook diner days after she accepted his friend request.
"It was like fireworks," said Larger of the first date.
The pair talked constantly — texting, Facebook messaging and meeting up for dates if Tulli could find a sitter for her three children.
They moved in together that summer, just after Tulli's car was set ablaze in her Garfield driveway.
Last fall, the couple moved into a house in Clifton, along with Tulli's children.
The lovebirds are expecting their first child together in December.
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