LOS ANGELES – Miranda Tessaro thought she was doing the right thing when she invited out-of-work ventriloquist Al Corcetti, 65, and his dummy, Jigsey Janofsky, 38, to stay in her Silver Lakes home. The duo was previously living in a van with the words “Will work for smiles and/or food” spray-painted on the side, often seen cruising along West Sunset Avenue.
Tessaro, 81, first met Corcetti a month prior. “He told me that with the recession, all the gigs had dried up,” she said. “Mr. Janofsky quickly responded by saying, ‘That’s not the only thing that’s dried up,’ and proceeded to stare at Mr. Corcetti’s crotch.”
Claiming to have heard a rim shot in the distance, she took it as a sign, and told the pair that if they promised to help with chores around the house, they were welcome to stay in the basement apartment until they got back on their feet.
Tessaro’s compassion turned to shock on Tuesday night, however, as she returned home from grocery shopping to find a swarm of police surrounding the premises. That shock then turned to horror after emergency workers kicked in the basement door to find Corcetti’s lifeless body.
Records of a 911 call, placed by Janofsky an hour earlier, show he told dispatch he thought Corcetti was dying because he had “punched him repeatedly” and “chewed his neck.”
Janofsky was in jail Saturday morning, charged with second-degree murder and domestic abuse. Authorities say he has remained silent since Corcetti’s death.
Tessaro wonders if she should have seen it coming. “Now that I think about it, I did hear them bickering quite a bit, with [Corcetti] always being the butt of the joke,” she stated. “I hate to say it, but in a way, it was his fault. He always seemed to say the exact thing that would allow the puppet to deliver the perfect one-line insult. There was emotional abuse, sure.”
She also recalled the previous night’s dinner, in which Janofsky threw a fit after being reprimanded by Corcetti for saying he’d rather eat feces in lieu of Tessaro’s chicken pot pie. “[Janofsky] lost it. His eyes started rolling furiously in his head and his jaw started snapping like a piranha. [Corcetti] had to subdue him by locking him in a crate.”
That was the last time she saw Corcetti alive.
Janofsky was previously arrested in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s for burglary, public exposure, and comic mischief.