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Andrea Pisanello: 'Her life was ... devoted to helping kids'

By JOSE CARDENAS and LORRI HELFAND, Times Staff Writers
Published December 15, 2007


LARGO -- Those who knew Andrea Pisanello said she had a passion for helping others.

"Her life was pretty much devoted to helping kids," said Megan Szczepanik, Pisanello's partner for eight years.

Pisanello, 53, served as a vice president of a treatment facility for abused children before moving to Florida. Most recently, she worked at Hospice of the Florida Suncoast. And she was a doting mother to her 4-year-old daughter, Annie.

On Friday, Annie was in her mother's Monterey Lakes apartment at 6:40 a.m. when someone killed Pisanello and her roommate, Jennifer Davis, 27. Largo police say Davis' ex-husband, Oliver Thomas Bernsdorff, 36, is the suspect.

Szczepanik, Annie's biological mother, said her daughter was recovering at her home late Friday.

She and Pisanello moved here six years ago from Kansas City, Mo.

There, Pisanello served as vice president of clinical services for Spofford Co., a residential treatment facility for abused and underprivileged children, from 1997 to 2002.

Janine Hron, president of Spofford, said Pisanello's former co-workers still remember her dedication.

"She was fiery and really energetic," said Hron. "She had a tremendous passion for what she did."

Before joining the hospice, Pisanello worked for five years at Directions for Mental Health, a private nonprofit mental health corporation in Clearwater.

Pisanello met Davis at Unitarian Universalist Church in Clearwater. They also worked together at the hospice.

The women moved into the Monterey Lakes apartment complex on Ulmerton Road about a month ago.

"She just gave," Szczepanik said. "That's what her life was."