Donald Flagg murdered Debbie Puglisi’s husband and then raped her: Case spotlight on ID

Debbie Puglisi in an interview
Donald Flagg held Debbie Puglisi for five days before she was able to escape and raise the alarm. Pic credit: Discovery Life/ YouTube

This week Investigation Discovery is examing the traumatic events suffered by Debbie Puglisi in April 1998, which included her abduction and rape and the murder of her husband, Anthony Puglisi.

Donald Flagg entered the couple’s home in Academy Hill, Newark, Delaware, and in a seemingly random criminal act, he shot dead Anthony and subsequently held Debbie captive for five days.

On April 20, 1998, Flagg had been smoking crack when he left for work at the Chrysler Corp. plant in Newark. On the drive, he spotted Debbie in her front yard and reportedly decided he would kidnap her.

He entered the home through an unlocked door and waited for Debbie to come inside. Her husband, Anthony, came home from work for a quick nap and surprised Flagg, who shot him dead. Debbie did not hear the gunshot because of nearby construction work.

In the meantime, Flagg helped himself to a couple of beers while he waited for Debbie to come in from the yard. When she came into the kitchen, he struck her on the side of the head. Flagg then dragged her into the basement, where he sexually assaulted her.

Flagg later shoved Debbie into his car and brought her to his home less than five miles away, where he kept his victim tied up and repeatedly raped her.

Debbie’s terrifying ordeal lasted five horrific days, but she was finally able to escape her restraints when Fragg left for work on the fifth day. She then dialed 911 and contacted the police.

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The police had discovered Anthony’s body a few days earlier when they went to the couple’s home to perform a welfare check after Debbie failed to turn up for work. They had been searching for the 49-year-old ever since and considered her a suspect in her husband’s murder.

The investigator’s focus changed dramatically after Debbie’s 911 call. She told the operator,” please come get me, help me, help me… He killed my husband… He said he saw me in the yard, and he wanted me. He was waiting in my house for me.”

Flagg was arrested the next day at his work. He pleaded insanity, but in 1999 a jury dismissed this defense and found him guilty of murder, abduction, and rape. He was punished with eight consecutive life sentences.

More from Investigation Discovery

Follow the links to read about more horrendous murders profiled on ID.

John Riebe owed Eric Babos, his colleague and friend of 20 years, $150 for contracting work he had carried out. When Babos felt that his friend wasn’t going to pay him promptly, he shot him dead.

Margarita Fisenko Scott was murdered by her drug-dealing boyfriend, Anthony Pratt Jr, in Portland, Maine. Her estranged husband thought she’d run away to New York until he found her corpse stuffed into an SUV.

Your Worst Nightmare airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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Carla Brice
Carla Brice
2 years ago

8 consecutive life sentences was NOT enough.

3 months ago

Brave woman. So very sorry her husband was killed. Very sorry she went through such a terrifying ordeal. Its crimes like this that proves to me that black white crimes occurred back when black males were hung for committing crimes against whites.

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