The Most Bizarre Things About The Lorena Bobbitt Case
John Wayne and Lorena Bobbitt had been married for four years and five days when she cut off his penis on June 23, 1993. Born Lorena Gallo during the Cold War, the Ecuadorian woman was raised in Venezuela surrounded by American imagery, according to Vanity Fair. She moved to Virginia on a student visa where she shortly met John, a lance corporal at the time, “at a dance hall near the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico.”
Lorena was charged with malicious wounding but was acquitted in 1994 on the grounds that she was temporarily insane, The New York Times reported at the time. Throughout the highly publicized case and the ensuing trial, Lorena argued that she had suffered sexual, physical, and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, aspects that were highlighted in court. John was investigated for marital sexual assault, of which he was cleared in November 1993, according to a separate report by The New York Times. John contended that their marriage was collapsing because of Lorena’s greed and her obsession with the “American Dream,” per Vanity Fair.“She just wanted too much, too fast,” John is quoted as saying.
When John was discharged from the Marines in 1991 and Lorena’s job as a manicurist became the couple’s main source of income, their financial situation strained the relationship, with both calling 911 on different occasions, per Vanity Fair. The couple’s troubles soon led to violence that shocked the country. Keep reading to learn some bizarre facts surrounding the case.
Lorena Bobbitt sought a restraining order two days before the incident
On June 21, 1993, just two days before she was charged with cutting off John Wayne Bobbitt’s member, Lorena Bobbitt had asked a judge to grant her a restraining order against him, The Washington Post reported at the time. However, a court official said Lorena missed her court date. According to the official, Bobbitt was told that the paperwork would be processed within three hours, but that she said she didn’t want to wait and opted to have lunch with a friend instead.
Stephen Roque, “a counselor with the county’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court,” asked if Bobbitt was concerned for her safety and she said she wasn’t. Bobbitt denied this version, saying she was informed the paperwork would be ready for her to sign in two days, or June 23, 1993 — which is when the tragic events took place.
One of Bobbitt’s lawyers, James Lowe, said court officials weren’t to blame from the events of that night, though a quicker response could have helped prevent it, according to The Washington Post. “Whether intervention in a more timely fashion would have prevented the occurrence or much of the abuse that she received is hard to say,” Lowe said. “It certainly wouldn’t have hurt.”
John Wayne Bobbitt argued Lorena married him to get a Green Card
John Wayne Bobbitt had been asking Lorena Bobbitt to grant him a divorce for some time when the incident happened. According to E!, Lorena told him that, “as a Catholic, she didn’t believe in divorce,” which is why she stayed with him even though she was afraid, the report detailed.
However, John believed she refused because she needed to stay married for another year to apply for permanent citizenship. “That didn’t come to my mind at the time, but it’s obvious,” John said (via Vanity Fair). “You have to be married to an American citizen for five years to get one, and we’d only been married for four.”
Lorena filed for divorce shortly after being released from a psychiatric ward, where she spent 45 days following being found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity on January 24, 1994 (via Refinery 29). That year, she became an American citizen, and, according to a separate Refinery 29 story, the former couple’s divorce was finalized in 1995.
Lorena Bobbitt said John forced her to have an abortion
When Lorena Bobbitt found out she was pregnant in 1990, she said her husband forced her to have an abortion, according to ABC News. She was excited to be a mother but felt threatened by John Bobbitt and thought she didn’t have a choice but to end the pregnancy. The Washington Post reported in 1993 that John denied pressuring his wife to undergo the procedure. However, ABC News published that he acknowledged suggesting it, even though he knew Lorena was against going through with it.
John admitted that his wife was upset over the June 1990 procedure, but that she had agreed to do it partly to protect her job, according to The New York Times. He added that he did make the arrangements and that she recovered emotionally pretty quickly, the report detailed. “We weren’t ready anyway,” John said, as quoted by ABC. “So I suggested we should wait. She wasn’t happy about it, but, you know, what can you do?”
Lorena described the experience during her trial, testifying that he made fun of her for being nervous at the clinic, according to The Deseret News. “I was very nervous,” Lorena said. “He was laughing about me and I was crying.”
Lorena Bobbitt stole more than $7,000 from her employer
In 1991, Lorena Bobbitt was caught embezzling $7,200 from Janna Bisutti, the owner of the nail salon where Lorena worked, who was also a friend and confidant. According to Vanity Fair, Lorena claimed to have taken the money out of desperation as she was the one supporting both her husband and herself. John Bobbitt, on the other hand, said her actions proved how greedy she was, per ABC News. “She abused Janna Bisutti by stealing all that money,” John Bobbitt said. “She didn’t need to do that. Especially with somebody who brought her in, gave her a job, fed her. And we were close friends of hers.”
Bisutti made Lorena pay the money back when she found out, and they remained close, according to ABC News. That same year, Lorena and John’s home went into foreclosure, and the couple separated, per Vanity Fair. The two were back together a year later.
Bisutti said in a 1993 interview with ABC News that Lorena was willing to do whatever it took for the couple’s marriage to survive. “She said she loved him and she wanted her marriage to work,” Bisutti said. “She was going to do anything to try to make her marriage work.”
A friend of John Wayne Bobbitt's was staying with the couple the night of
John Wayne Bobbitt planned to leave Lorena Bobbitt and invited a friend, Robert Johnston, to come down from Buffalo, New York, according to ABC News. He wanted his friend to stay with him as the couple figured out who would stay in the apartment. Johnston arrived a day before the tragic event took place on June 22, 1993, and the two decided to go out for drinks together so that John could show him around Washington D.C. “We hang out and meet people and talk and have a good time,” John said, as quoted in the ABC report. “And then late in the morning, we head home.”
Lorena and John’s version of what happened after the two friends returned home differ vastly. She said she was in bed asleep when John walked in the room, and that her husband had sex with her against her will, according to Vanity Fair.
John, on the other hand, claimed his wife was awake in bed when he returned home but that they didn’t speak, according to ABC News. He added that Lorena came onto him as he fell asleep, though he was in no condition to react and denied they were intimate that night. “I was exhausted, and I couldn’t respond to her advances,” John said, per ABC News.
Lorena Bobbitt had rape counseling brochures on her nightstand
Lorena Bobbitt had support materials about rape on her nightstand the night she was charged with slicing off her husband’s organ, police testified during her trial in 1994, the Sun-Sentinel reported at the time. “She had some literature on rape that she had read that night and [had] put it on the nightstand and gone to sleep,” her attorney Blair Howard told ABC News. “And he comes in… loaded to the gills with alcohol. And he decides to crawl in bed, help himself because, you know, ‘That’s my wife. I do with her what I want.'”
According to the Sun-Sentinel, Lorena had also packed a bag because she planned on leaving her husband that day. One of the jury members, Clay Cocalis, told the newspaper that these details influenced their decision to acquit Lorena. “I’m comfortable with the decision we reached,” Cocalis said. “You’d be surprised. Most of the men on the jury were on her side.”
During her trial, Lorena testified that her husband had sexually assaulted her several times before June 23, 1993. She described an incident she said took place the Friday before the night of the event, according to a report by The Washington Post. “He pushed me and held my hands. I said no twice,” Lorena said during testimony. After the alleged rape, “he said forced sex excites him,” Lorena claimed.
Lorena Bobbitt decided to attack John Wayne Bobbitt while drinking water
Lorena Bobbitt has long sustained that attacking John Bobbitt was not a premeditated action. After allegedly being assaulted by her husband, Lorena went to the kitchen to grab a glass of water when she saw a carving knife on the counter. According to The New York Times, she became overwhelmed with feelings of years of abuse, and spotting the kitchen utensil gave rise to the impulse of using it against her husband.
“It was so many things coming into my mind,” Lorena told ABC News in 1993. “I don’t know how to describe [it]. Things like, from the very first day he hit me. Things about the abortion… things that… when he was torturing me, when he was beating me up. When he has forced sex with me, everything, it just came so fast.” According to the Sun-Sentinel, Lorena testified that she remembered asking her husband “Are you happy with what you did to me?” before carrying out the deed.
For Lorena, her decision to maim her husband was self-defense, according to Vanity Fair. “I didn’t want to teach him a lesson,” she said. “No, it was survival. Life and death. I was fearing for my life.”
Lorena Bobbitt tossed the severed organ onto a field
Lorena Bobbitt said she was in a state of shock after cutting off John Wayne Bobbitt’s manhood. Not knowing what to do, she left her husband bleeding at their apartment and drove off with the severed appendage in her hand, according to Crime Library. When she realized what she was holding, Lorena threw it out of the car window onto a roadside field.
“I remember I couldn’t make a turn because my hands [had] something on them, and so I tried to turn but then I saw that I have it in my hand,” Lorena said in 1993, per ABC News. “I looked at it and I scream, and… I throw it out of the window. I just drive it as fast as I could.”
Lorena kept driving down the road until she realized what she had done. She fled to Janna Bisutti’s house, per ABC News.
Lorena Bobbitt helped police locate her husband's missing organ
Janna Bisutti’s husband informed her that Lorena Bobbitt was at their home, according to a 1993 interview with ABC News. Her immediate reaction was to wonder “Oh, my God, what has John done to her?'” she said. “I walked down the stairs and she’s huddled in the corner of my living room screaming and crying in a fetal position… and she said, ‘I cut John,'” Bisutti told ABC. After calming her horror-stricken friend and learning more details about the situation, Bisutti convinced Lorena to call 911 and explain what had happened.
Police officers arrived around 4:30 a.m. and Lorena directed them to the gravel-strewn field. Police searched the field and an officer located the detached penis across the street from a 7-Eleven, according to a separate ABC News report. “I’m not a vindictive person because I told them where it was,” Lorena told The New York Times in 2019.
Though law enforcement officers found the missing organ, they didn’t retrieve it right away because none of them had gloves, said Dr. Jim Sehn, the physician who operated on John later that day, according to The Cut. Instead, they called an EMS squad and waited around until the ambulance arrived with gloves, Sehn told the publication. After retrieving it, police went into the convenience store and filled a Big Bite hot dog brown paper bag with ice to place the mutilated organ, per The New York Times.
John Wayne Bobbitt's manhood was reattached after a nine-hour surgery
After the attack, Robert Johnston rushed John Wayne Bobbitt to Prince William Hospital where urologist Dr. Jim Sehn was on call. At the time, police hadn’t yet recovered the missing organ, so Sehn thought he was going into the operating room to perform a simple perineal urethrostomy, which creates a permanent opening into the urethra of a male body, he told The Cut in a 2019 interview.
He was already in the OR when police called to inform them that they had located the member, per the report. Sehn called plastic surgeon Dave Berman and both men spent the following nine hours replanting it. When they took off the tourniquet at the end of the procedure, Sehn reported witnessing a “great blood flow,” he told the publication. “The organ was pink and doing well and we thought we had a chance to save it.”
Despite being a surgeon and being used to trauma wounds, Sehn described John’s injury as “really horrifying,” per the report. “I had never seen an injury quite this gruesome before in urology. It’s just a really unique moment and you can’t help but get a wrenching feeling in your gut to see it,” he said. For his part, Berman said in 2019 that John’s still is the “most interesting and dramatic case I’ve ever done in my life,” according to ABC News.
John Wayne Bobbitt went on to have a short-lived career in adult entertainment
John Wayne Bobbitt stayed at the hospital for three weeks after his surgery to recover. By the second week, he realized the operation had been a success and that his member had regained its functions, according to ABC News.
After being acquitted and fully recovered, Bobbitt moved to Las Vegas where he filmed a porno, John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut, released in the fall of 1994, according to Vanity Fair. Two years later, he starred in the follow-up film, Frankenpenis, following a male enlargement surgery in 1996, according to Mental Floss. The first of the two is one of the highest-grossing adult films of all time, according to director Ron Jeremy, but interest in Bobbitt and his reattached member fizzled, putting an end to his short-lived career in porn. In a 20/20 interview, Dr. Jim Sehn noted that “it’s not often that our work is displayed in that fashion.”
Before that, Bobbitt had attempted to find fame in the music industry. According to Refinery 29, he formed a band audaciously named Severed Parts in an attempt to raise money to cover his medical and legal bills. His music career was even shorter-lived than his role as an adult film star and the group was disbanded before it even took off, the report detailed. In between the two careers, Bobbitt made some money by autographing carving knives.
Lorena Bobbitt contends John continued to reach out to her
Lorena Bobbitt’s life after the 1993 tragedy went in an entirely different direction. In 2007, she became an advocate for domestic violence survivors and victims when she founded Lorena’s Red Wagon, now the Lorena Gallo Foundation, a non-profit organization that works to prevent domestic violence, according to Oprah.com.
Throughout the years, John Bobbitt continuously tried to reach out to Lorena, going as far as sending her cards and flowers for Valentine’s Day, per the report. After the trial, John kept driving up to the nail salon where she worked, even though she expressed not wanting to see him, she told The New York Times in 2019. Even after 25 years, John was still sending her letters, which Lorena said was an attempt to control her life. “He keeps on leaving me messages or sending me Valentine’s cards or flowers, roses,” Lorena said, as quoted in a 2009 New York Post report.
On Jordan Peele’s 2019 Amazon docu-series about her case, Lorena, she reads snippets from different letters signed by John, according to The Atlantic. “Dear Lorena,” one reads. “I miss you very much and if there was a choice to have any woman in the world, it will be you. I love my wife, I love your heart, and I love you very much. From, your cold, insensitive husband.”
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