- Netflix’s recent documentary spotlights Brazil’s harrowing 2008 Nardoni Case, revisiting the sorrowful demise of young Isabella in São Paulo.
- The film features previously unrevealed testimonies, unearthing hidden layers of the investigation and the public’s emotional response to the tragedy.
- Amidst Brazil’s collective shock, the documentary paints a vivid picture of the trial, highlighting the complexities surrounding Isabella’s father and stepmother.
Among the productions currently captivating Netflix viewers is “Isabella: The Nardoni Case,” a documentary centering on a harrowing crime from Brazil in 2008. It delves into the tragic death of 5-year-old Isabella de Oliveira Nardoni. The young girl met her end after being thrown from her sixth-floor apartment in São Paulo.
The case left a profound impact on Brazil, particularly when the identities of the perpetrators came to light: Isabella’s father and stepmother.
Released on Netflix on August 17, the 104-minute documentary thoroughly examines the case. It offers previously undisclosed testimonies from investigators, experts, and close family members. Viewers hear from Isabella’s mother and maternal grandparents for the first time.
During the legal proceedings, Isabella became a household name in Brazil, while those responsible for her demise were widely reviled. The case gripped the nation, with the public eagerly awaiting each update.
A Closer Look at the Nardoni Case
Isabella’s father, Alexandre Alves Nardoni, was 29 at the time. He had remarried to 24-year-old Anna Carolina Jatobá, with whom he had two children. Isabella was born from Alexandre’s earlier relationship with Ana Carolina Cunha de Oliveira, who was just 17 when she conceived Isabella.
The chilling incident transpired on the night of March 29, 2008. A disturbance in the garden of the London building in São Paulo caught the attention of the building manager. Upon investigating, he discovered a gravely injured Isabella. Moments later, a distraught Alexandre appeared at the scene. Despite a 34-minute resuscitation attempt, Isabella’s life couldn’t be saved.
Alexandre recounted that after arriving home, he had taken Isabella upstairs to bed, leaving Anna Carolina and their other children in the car. But upon his return, he found his daughter critically injured in the garden. In his initial statement, Alexandre posited a burglary gone awry, suggesting an intruder had thrown Isabella off the balcony. However, the evidence—or lack thereof—told a different story. No signs of forced entry were found, and nothing was missing from the apartment.
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Investigators soon unearthed disturbing details. The window netting in the apartment had been deliberately cut, and Isabella’s sibling’s room—where she was believed to have been thrown from—had blood stains. While the couple faced multiple interrogations, they weren’t immediately charged. Public opinion, however, was against them, and they faced relentless scrutiny.
Subsequent forensic analysis revealed that Isabella hadn’t died from the fall. She showed signs of asphyxiation and had been thrown by her wrists, one of which was fractured before the fall. There were also indications of prior physical trauma. Blood evidence was found throughout the apartment and in Alexandre’s car, suggesting an attempt to clean up the crime scene.
The Court’s Verdict
Two years after the tragedy, in March 2010, the couple stood trial for aggravated homicide. Presiding Judge Mauricio Fonseca had previously ordered their detention in May 2008. On March 27, 2010, the jury rendered its verdict. Alexandre received a 31-year sentence, while Anna Carolina was sentenced to 26 years and eight months.
The trial revealed a potential motive: Anna Carolina’s alleged intense jealousy of Isabella’s mother. This jealousy might have led to hatred towards Isabella, culminating in the tragic events of that night.
The verdict announcement was an event in itself. Crowds gathered outside the São Paulo courthouse, erupting in cheers and setting off fireworks upon hearing the decision—a reaction reminiscent of World Cup celebrations.
Although Alexandre and Anna Carolina have maintained their innocence, neither participated in the documentary. On the other hand, Isabella’s mother, who has since remarried and had two more children, shares her poignant testimony in the film, her eyes a testament to an enduring heartbreak.