CIA sniper used his training to stalk then kill his ex-girlfriend

When you venture back onto the dating scene later in life, the internet can introduce you to people you would never usually have crossed paths with.

Elizabeth Lee-Herman certainly felt that way when she met Vincent Verdi through the online site in early 2017.

They had led two very different lives and yet something clicked between the two of them and their chatting turned into a series of dates.

Elizabeth, 56, was a mum-of-two living in New York.

She worked at The Grace Church School where she had been an administrative assistant for over 17 years, after her son and daughter had both attended there.

Elizabeth was known for her contagious smile and generous nature.

Now that her children were both in their 20s, Elizabeth was making more time for herself and looking for a second chance at love following her divorce.

After joining the popular online dating site, she’d been matched with Vincent.

Vincent must have seemed like an exciting prospect.

Also living in New York, he was an ex-CIA intelligence officer who had served as a sniper for the US government.

He’d worked on special projects around the world with the Defense Department, including Afghanistan, and had plenty of stories to tell.

He’d also been employed by the Drug Enforcement Agency, but had been fired for unknown reasons.

Vincent was smitten with Elizabeth and told her how keen he was.

They dated for a couple of months, but while Vincent was head-over-heels, Elizabeth wasn’t so convinced by their relationship.

She broke things off in July 2017, having never developed deep feelings for him.

But Vincent wasn’t willing to give up and he made it his mission to win her back.

He sent Elizabeth endless messages all day, every day, and even called her at her work place.

Vincent attempted big romantic gestures by sending her bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolates.

Elizabeth politely told Vincent she still wasn’t interested, but it just made him step up his campaign for a reconciliation.

Vincent started to follow Elizabeth and appeared regularly near her home.

Once, she noticed he’d followed her to a dentist appointment and even to a theatre where she was attempting to go on a date with someone new.

Having been trained by the government, Vincent knew exactly how to track his target, but he was hardly being stealth.

Elizabeth started to realise she was in a living nightmare and her suitor had turned into a relentless stalker.

Vincent was suddenly everywhere she turned, and she was constantly looking over her shoulder.

The gifts kept coming, and so did the unwanted attention.

When Vincent began appearing at the school where she worked, Elizabeth had to distribute a mug shot image of him to security guards, so they’d know he wasn’t welcome.

Finally, Elizabeth had enough and had no choice but to report her ex to the police.

In October 2017, Vincent was arrested and he spent seven days in custody.

He was ordered to turn over any guns that he had, but his lawyers denied he owned any.

When he was finally released, he was warned not to have any more contact with Elizabeth.

A restraining order was put in place to make sure he stayed away, but unfortunately it didn’t work.

Elizabeth’s neighbours were quick to tell her when Vincent started hanging around her home again.

He hadn’t got the message and a court order wasn’t about to keep him away.

On 1 November 2017, Elizabeth cycled to work as usual from her Upper East Side home.

As she’d left her house, she thanked the doorman for telling her that he’d spotted Vincent in the area the day before.

Elizabeth expressed her disbelief that he would continue to break his order of protection and said they would be going to court soon.

Elizabeth said Vincent was ‘obsessed’.

Laying in wait

Elizabeth set off on a CitiBike – a public bicycle sharing scheme in the city.

It was a busy commute as she pedalled through the streets.

Just before 8am, she reached the place where she docked her bike.

Cooper Square was across from the school and by the Cooper Union library.

Suddenly, Vincent appeared out of nowhere with a gun.

It was broad daylight, and members of the public were milling around, unaware of the tragedy that was unfolding.

Vincent shot Elizabeth at point-blank range, the bullet being fired into her stomach.

As she fell to the ground in a pool of her own blood, he turned the gun on himself, shooting a bullet into his head.

The former couple both lay dying next to each other on the cold ground as horrified witnesses looked on.

Elizabeth was rushed to hospital and doctors tried desperately to save her, but she was pronounced dead.

Vincent was in a critical condition, but, incredibly, he pulled through.

The sentencing

Elizabeth’s death devastated the community and hundreds turned out for her funeral.

Colleagues recalled how she would sprinkle her conversations with terms of endearment such as ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’.

They talked about her passion for the school and how she was devoted to making the world a better place.

When he was strong enough, Vincent was charged with murder, weapons possession, aggravated criminal contempt and stalking.

In May this year, he pleaded guilty to all the charges.

Knowing that he’d been arrested for stalking, and a restraining order hadn’t been enough to keep him away, was frustrating for Elizabeth’s family.

A month later, Vincent, 63, was sentenced and gave a rambling statement, dressed in a beige prison jumpsuit.

‘These words come of a heavy heart,’ he said.

‘On November 1, 2017, I intentionally caused the death of Elizabeth Lee-Herman by shooting her with a firearm on Astor Place in Manhattan.

'My sorrow for what I did has no limit, and is also true of my regret for the pain and anguish I have caused to many, many people.

'After decades of serving my country as an Army officer in war zones around the world and comporting myself with honour and discipline, I don’t know how I arrived at this place where I could commit this act, nor how I can ever atone for the damage I have caused.’

Elizabeth’s son, Hunter Herman, had a chance to speak in the Manhattan courtroom.

‘I want Vincent Verdi to be punished, to feel more than guilt.

'I want him to look on himself with permanent disgust.

'No punishment seems enough,’ he said.

Daughter Sasha also had damning words for the man who had murdered her mum.

‘We lost the most amazing, kind and selfless woman any of us have ever known,’ she said.

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