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Police & Fire

Slip-up leaves slain woman’s sister still seeking answers

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: My cellphone was vibrating. I wished my mom a “Happy Birthday” that morning and all seemed right. But as the hours passed, a feeling of uneasiness crept over me. So I answered. “The police called your father. They want us all to go to the police station,” Mom said. “Something happened to Vivi.”

Vivian (left) and Stella Tulli

I got there and officers immediately started asking me questions. All I could stammer out was “Is she alive?”

“Your sister was in an accident,” one of them said. “She was killed.”

I felt like I had been kicked, stabbed, thrown into a fire. This cannot be happening. How could it?

As I learned the details of what happened to my sister, my stomach knotted, my eyes filled with tears and this cry came out. So primal. So raw.

I ran out of the room and just started punching walls, ripping paper to shreds. I finally found my parents and hugged my mom so tight. Of all days for this to happen, it had to be on her birthday.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Authorities said David Goodell strangled 21-year-old Vivian Tulli, his ex-girlfriend, hours after fleeing a hospital he was taken to while staying at a halfway house. He then drove her car head-on into a police cruiser, her body still in the passenger seat. CLICK HERE FOR CLIFFVIEW PILOT’S COVERAGE)

Outside the police station, I lit a cigarette. Then I collapsed on the sidewalk. I eventually drove home to find a police cruiser parked there.

Next thing I knew, a reporter came up. Before he could get near the house, I told him to take a hike. “I just want a story” was his response.

“Here’s a story,” my brother said. “Reporter gets his ass kicked.”

That’s right, jackass. Move it along.

The news spread quickly spread quickly. Soon my phone was going non-stop. Texts. Calls. Facebook messages.

Yes, everyone: It’s true. My sister was murdered.

The pieces of that day, of that week, are still foggy eight months later. My memory is still clouded.

A lot of people wound up at my house that first night. I know from stories that I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, that I was beyond drunk. I tried, but I couldn’t hide from or avoid the reality. I just lost it completely.

I went to the morgue the next day, still in disbelief. I just needed to see her. I thought it would provide some closure.

Instead, the image haunts me.

David Goodell, the crime scene

There she lay,  shrouded in a white blanket. Her face was pale, bruised and swollen from the beating he administered to her. Tears fell as I banged on the glass partition.

“Vivi. Vivi! VIVI! WAKE UP! Stop f***ing around, Vivi. It‘s not funny. Please, please wake up. Please….”

Then the bargaining began.

“God, please, bring her back. I’ll trade places. Take me, not her. Please not her. Take my legs, take my arms. Make me blind. Please. Just bring her back.”

Then I figured since God wasn’t hearing me, maybe the devil would. I offered him my soul for her…. He didn’t want it.

Back home, I start drinking again. I just wanted to be numb.

You read these stories online and never think such a horrible thing can happen to you. But it does.

As I slowly scrolled through my memories, through conversations I had with Vivi, I began to wonder whether I knew that this day would come, whether I could have stopped it from happening. Maybe if I had stayed home from work … maybe if I had gone out with her that night… maybe if I had just.…

The ‘what ifs’ ate at me.

Then there’s David.

How is it possible an inmate is in a hospital with a chaperone, a guard, whatever…and just leaves? The people who are supposed to be protecting us screwed up royally.

Now this presents a challenge for me. Those responsible for protecting and serving us are now working on my sister’s murder case. I have mixed emotions about it — distrusting, yet grateful.

It’s funny: You watch a crime show and it’s all wrapped up quickly. Not here. We may have to go through a murder trial with a jury. We may have to rehash all the facts. I might have to hear him say, “not guilty.”

That’s what he said at his arraignment, the f***ing coward, shielding his face from all of  us. Why did you hide your face, David? Because Vivi got a few shots in?

If looks could kill, I would have struck him down. But I do know he heard me yell out in court as he was being led away in handcuffs, ” I HATE YOU, DAVID!!!” Vivi and I sound alike, so him hearing that, knowing it wasn’t her, makes me just a teeny bit happy.

At the same time, I’m disgusted with the whole chain of events, the “dropping the ball.” I still do not understand how he was released early. I still wonder how the Parole Board looked over his docket, which showed his previous assault on officers, his previous terrorist threats, his violations while being incarcerated — and still say, “Yes, this man can go to a halfway house.”

Where is the justice?

The Tulli sisters

Nothing is going to bring my sister back. Nothing I can do can right this terrible wrong. I can’t take it out on his family or friends. It’s not their fault. I just wish someone could feel the pain my mother feels. I want someone to wake up at 3 a.m. bawling their eyes out because they just had a dream of their beloved little sister laughing, only to wake up and realize she’s not really there.

No more birthdays to celebrate with her, no more holidays. Vivi isn’t waiting for me on the front steps, ready to take an L ride. No more shopping trips. They’re all gone.

I lost a part of myself the day my sister was killed. Fun-loving, free-spirited Stella has gone away and someone else has taken her place.

I miss me. I miss us. Most of all, I miss Vivi.

Li‘l Miss Tulli was one of a kind. And nothing can ever replace her.




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