Rosie Essa: A Cold Heart Plots a Daring Murder

In my last blog post, jealousy led Patricia Rorrer to murder Joann Katrinak, her ex-lover’s new wife. This week’s case is equally tragic. In 2005, Rosie Essa died after a minor traffic accident, but the accident didn’t cause her death. Her husband, Yazeed Essa, had poisoned her.

Rosie Essa

Rosemarie “Rosie” Essa trained as a nurse and worked at the former Mount Sinai Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. While working there in 1995, she met Yazeed Essa, an emergency room doctor, and businessman. The two married on September 11, 1999. By 2005, the couple had a son, Armand, and a daughter, Lena.

Yazeed and Rosemarie "Rosie" Essa
Yazeed and Rosemarie “Rosie” Essa

Family and friends described Rosie as a loving mother and thought she and Yazeed were happy in their marriage.

Rosie Essa Dies Unexpectedly

On February 24, 2005, Rosie left her house around 2:00 p.m. to meet her sister at a movie theater. Before going, Yazeed gave her a calcium supplement, which she took. During the drive, she began to feel sick, calling a friend, Eva McGregor, and telling her she suspected the calcium pill had caused her illness.

Rosemarie "Rosie" DiPuccio Essa
Rosemarie “Rosie” DiPuccio Essa

After speaking with McGregor, Rosie called her husband but failed to reach him. Shortly afterward, she collapsed behind the wheel. Her car grazed an SUV before rolling to a stop. Despite the low speed of the impact (about 10 miles per hour), Rosie was barely responsive when first responders arrived. She then vomited and slipped into unconsciousness.

Paramedics rushed Rosie to a hospital, but she was pronounced dead at 3:02 p.m.

Rosie Essa Didn’t Die from the Accident

Immediately after Rosie died, family and friends suspected Yazeed had something to do with her death. His behavior wasn’t what one would expect from a grieving husband. Instead of accepting help from family, he hired two nannies to look after the children. Later, Gary McKee, a detective investigating the case, determined that Yazeed was having an affair with both women.

On March 17, McKee asked Yazeed about the calcium pills. Yazeed explained that, given her age, Rosie should be proactive regarding osteoporosis. McKee asked for the pills, and Yazeed complied.

Later that day, Yazeed threw a lavish party some described as a going-away party. In the wee hours of the following morning, he called his sister and asked her to watch the children for a few days, saying that an out-of-state friend had been in an accident. That was the last anyone saw of Yazeed Essa for a very long time.

Four weeks later, laboratory analysis showed that the “calcium” pills contained potassium cyanide.

Yazeed on the Lam

Yazeed Essa traveled to Detroit and Toronto before booking a flight to Heathrow Airport in London. From there, he flew to Cyprus and then to Beirut, Lebanon. Once in Lebanon, Yazeed took advantage of the fact that the United States had no extradition treaty with Lebanon. He lived there in ostentatious style harbored by Jamal Khalife, a family friend.

Yazeed's arrest photo
Yazeed’s arrest photo

On October 7, 2006, almost twenty months after Rosie Essa died, Yazeed boarded a flight to Cyprus. Cypriot police arrested him immediately after he got off the plane. Although Cyprus does (and did) have an extradition treaty with the US, it took over two years of legal wrangling to get Essa back to Ohio to stand trial for aggravated murder and another year to get him to trial.


A jury convicted Yazeed Essa of aggravated murder on March 8, 2010, five years after Rosie’s death. Judge Deena Calabrese sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole for twenty years.

An officer handcuffs Yazeed Essa after the jury returns its guilty verdict in Essa's trial for murdering his wife, Rosie Essa (Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer)
An officer handcuffs Yazeed Essa after the jury returns its guilty verdict in Essa’s trial for murdering his wife, Rosie Essa (Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer)

Today (2023), Yazeed Essa resides at the Ohio State Penitentiary year Youngstown, Ohio. His first shot at parole will be in November 2029.

Yazeed Essa in an undated prison mugshot (Ohio Department of Corrections)
Yazeed Essa in an undated prison mugshot (Ohio Department of Corrections)

In 1994, Dateline NBC aired an episode titled “Bitter Pill,” devoted to the Rosie Essa murder.

Don’t Miss Out! Subscribe to the Newsletter

Subscribe to True Crime in the News, a monthly email newsletter that looks at recent news stories that will interest any true crime fan. There is also a summary of the previous month’s blog posts. You won’t want to miss this. Sign up for the newsletter today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *