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Storm over, Schiavo to remarry

Ten months after the controversial death of his wife, Michael Schiavo has applied for a marriage license.

By KELLEY BENHAM
Published January 21, 2006


 
Michael Schiavo began a relationship with Jodi Centonze about 11 years ago. They have lived together for several years and have two children.

They might have done this years ago, but he already had a wife.

Michael Schiavo and Jodi Centonze applied for a marriage license in Pinellas County on Friday. She listed her last marriage as ending in divorce on March 29, 1989. He listed his as ending in death on March 31, 2005.

Their relationship has long been a curious sidenote in the national right-to-die case of Michael's first wife, Terri Schiavo, who was in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years.

Michael Schiavo, 42, has called Jodi Centonze his fiancee for at least six years, relatives said. They live together and have two young children. For years Jodi has been the other woman, the target of death threats and scorn. Michael always had Terri, and his famous legal fight to let her go.

That ended in March, when Terri's feeding tube was removed against the wishes of her parents, many in the religious community and the Florida legislature.

Michael Schiavo and Jodi Centonze have had a relatively quiet life since Terri's death.

Family members confirmed Friday the Pinellas County marriage license, but would not reveal details of the upcoming wedding, saying they hoped to keep media attention to a minimum.

"I know it's going to be big news when it happens," said Jodi's brother John Centonze. "I've even had the (National) Enquirer contact me offering me money to give them pictures if they got married. Five grand just for a picture of my sister and they didn't care how old it was."

He said he hopes the wedding will be a step toward normalcy.

Michael Schiavo's brother Brian was more coy. "What wedding?" he said. "I have to call them and find out why I haven't been invited."

John Centonze said the wedding will take place sometime before his sister's 41st birthday on Valentine's Day. He said he hasn't rented a tuxedo yet because "it's too early."

Jodi Centonze was in Michael Schiavo's life before the lawsuits and the cameras.

The two met in a dentist's office and began a relationship about 11 years ago. Terri was already in a nursing home. She had collapsed in 1990, likely from a potassium imbalance.

Then came the split between Michael and his in-laws, followed by eight years of litigation. Michael said he had given up on Terri's chances of recovering and had promised not to keep her alive by artificial means. Bob and Mary Schindler accused their son-in-law of trying to kill their daughter so he could keep money from a malpractice settlement.

The case reached the Florida Legislature, the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, the White House, the Vatican and the national conscience. Protesters outside Terri's hospice in Pinellas Park held signs that said, "Michael don't plan the wedding yet, we still have hope!" and "Arrest Mike for bigamy."

Friends and relatives say Michael Schiavo told them then that Terri was his first love and the only woman he called his wife.

The marriage license is valid for 60 days.

Times staff writers Jamie Thompson and Steve Thompson and Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.

[Last modified January 21, 2006, 07:38:45]


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