Richard Lippner Had Two Beautiful Young Women Die in His Apartment Four Months Apart

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Joking around with her friends, she made up two playful catch phrases for herself. If she wanted to acknowledge a particularly glamorous or hilarious moment in real time, she'd purse her lips together and say with a thick Jersey brogue, "Casey-D — it's not just a name; it's a lifestyle!" or " 'Cause I'm a princess, bitch! Heyyyy!"

In New Jersey, Casey drank with her friends. Once in a while, she smoked weed. Every so often, she snorted a line of coke. "She always knew her limits," her friend Kaitlyn McCabe recalls. "She was never one to be reckless or stupid."

After graduating high school, she worked at a Hooters in New Jersey and talked about maybe one day becoming a Playboy model. When a close friend, Charley Bellantoni, enrolled at the University of Miami, his father rented him a penthouse in Miami. He invited Casey to come live with him and pursue her modeling career.

"We wanted her to feel free to go after her dreams while she was young," says Casey's mother, Eileen Warnock.

John Kaczmarski dated Casey for nearly three years in New Jersey. They broke up right before she moved to Florida. "I told her I thought she should do it," he says. "I told her I was holding her back."

In fall 2009, Casey moved in with Bellantoni in Miami and transferred to a Hooters on Biscayne Boulevard. Bellantoni, who worked as a nightlife promoter for a chain of tanning salons, soon introduced his friend to the Magic City lifestyle made famous in so many pop songs and movies. In October, they ventured to the Living Room, a chic Fort Lauderdale nightclub with the motto "Art. Life. Sex. Love. Music." Casey loved it.

Though she was just 19, Casey was offered a job as a bottle waitress in the VIP section of the club, which features Tempur-Pedic mattresses, chocolate-covered fruit, and individual plasma-screen TVs — all enclosed in a wall of bulletproof glass in the back of the club.

"You worry because she's young," says Brittany Robbins, Casey's cousin. "But it was something she wanted to do."

It was there that she met a VIP-room regular, Richard Lippner. And though at the time she had a boyfriend — a bouncer — Rich made his intentions known. "He told me one day he wanted to marry her and make her his," Bellantoni remembers.

As soon as her relationship with the bouncer was over, Rich started showing up at her apartment. They were together nearly every day after that. At the end of January, she accompanied Rich to Brianna's funeral.

Casey sat through the memorial, just feet from Brianna's crying family. She couldn't have known at the time, but she was looking at her own future.

Rich got her a fake ID and took her to a lot of the same places he had taken Brianna. He'd buy her shots and encourage her to make out with other women. He'd pose for pictures with his arm around her throat.

A few weeks into the relationship, she told her friends that Rich bought her a big bag of expensive, high-quality weed. "She said he got her mad pot," says Kaczmarski.

Then it was more than just pot. "Rich would buy massive amounts of cocaine and pills," remembers Bellantoni, who would occasionally join Casey and Rich at the club. "He supplied drugs every time I was out with him."

In March, Casey flew home for her 20th birthday. When her stepmother, Amy DiStefano, saw her bleached-out hair, she shook her head. She liked Casey as a natural brunet.

"Casey, you're killing your hair," she said. "Why?"

"Rich likes it," Casey said.

By April, her friends noticed a change in Casey. She was drinking more, throwing up more at clubs, missing shifts at work. Her roommate barely saw her unless he was partying at the Living Room.

"Something had definitely changed in her," remembers Mark Lowe, owner of the Living Room. "When she came to work, she was looking like a zombie."

At the end of the spring semester, Bellantoni announced that the lease would be up soon and that he was moving back to New Jersey. In May, Casey moved in with Rich.

Two weeks later, after missing a shift at the club, she confided to friends that she'd accidentally overdosed. She said Rich performed CPR and brought her back. She missed a week of work.

On the night of May 26, Casey called her mom around 10:30 p.m.

"She said she and Rich were staying at the apartment that night with some wine," her mother remembers.

Casey called her stepmother before she went to bed.

"We had just been talking about cancer, so I just reminded her that life is so precious," Amy DiStefano says. "I told her she should treasure every day and that we loved her very much."

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Michael J. Mooney