The Murder of Rachel Siani

Rachel Siani, 21, was murdered on March 31, 2000. Her body was discovered under a Burlington, New Jersey bridge. John “Jack” Denofa, 35, was convicted of her murder.

Rachel Siani

Rachel Siani was a full-time psychology student at Bucks County Community College. She was 3 college credits away from receiving her associate degree. She lived in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, with her father, Richard, stepmother, Janet Titlow Siana, stepbrothers, Thomas, and Charles, and two biological brothers, Anthony and William.

To pay for her college education, Rachel worked at Diva’s International Gentlemen’s Club in Levittown, Pennsylvania as an exotic dancer. Rachel, who danced under the moniker Roxanne, only met a clientele within Diva’s. Her behavior was strictly dancing or simple conversation, which was widely known among employees and patrons.

The Night That Rachel Siani Disappeared

On the night of March 31, 2000, Rachel worked her normal shift. After work, she changed into jeans and a white sweater. She also wore her favorite butterfly pendant. Rachel went to a local bar called Sportsters. After spending a little time there with a few friendly faces, she returned to the Diva’s parking lot. Rachel and a fellow Diva employee, Rebecca Yavorsky, sat in Yavorsky’s silver-colored Mustang and smoked a little marijuana. While in the vehicle, Yavorsky snapped a photograph of Rachel, which investigators later used to identify Rachel.

While the women sat there, they witnessed Jack Denofa, who they knew as a regular patron at Diva’s. He was intoxicated and banging on the Diva’s door, trying to re-enter the establishment. The establishment denied access. Rachel offered to walk Denofa back to his hotel room at the Econo Lodge to make sure that he got back to his room safely.

The Body of Rachel Siani is Discovered

When Rachel Siani didn’t show up for her shift, a fellow employee called the police to notify them of her possible disappearance. Police contacted her family who confirmed they have not heard from her. Investigators began interviewing employees and people in Rachel’s circle of friends. They learned Rachel had offered to walk Denofa back to his room #223 at the Econo Lodge. They secured a search warrant for the room and discovered a very minimal amount of blood in the shower; not enough to test. In 2000, DNA testing was not as advanced as it is in 2023.

On April 1, 2000, Richard Scott was driving an ATV when he discovered a female’s body under a bridge in Burlington, New Jersey. Investigators estimated that the height at which she fell was approximately 112 feet. They had deduced that she had fallen because there were no tire tracks or additional supporting evidence that a vehicle had transported her there. Investigators stated she was wearing blue jeans, a white sweater, white socks, and a butterfly necklace. Blood and white fibers (presumably from her sweater) were found on the bridge railing, which triggered a red flag to investigators. They had initially wondered if it was a potential suicide, but they dismissed that idea after they noted she had no shoes, and the bottom of her white socks were clean. They formed the theory that her death resulted from foul play and that the perpetrator had intended for her to land in the Delaware River and not on its banks, where she left a notable indentation in the ground. Investigators soon identified the female as Rachel Siani, based on her description. The medical examiner confirmed her identity.

Rachel Siani’s Cause of Death

Dr. Faruk Presswalla, New Jersey State medical examiner, conducted her autopsy. He discovered burst blood vessels (hemorrhaging) on her face, including her eyes, and determined that Rachel had been strangled. He found substantial internal bleeding, and many broken bones, including a leg, most of her ribs, a shoulder, her pelvis, and jaw. She also had a severe skull fracture. The severity of her injuries determined she was alive at the time that she fell from the bridge in Burlington. Dr. Presswalla determined her death to result from the fall.

The Investigation

Investigators began looking into Rachel Siani’s life. They discovered a missing person inquiry. Interviews with co-workers and friends uncovered further details regarding the last night that she was seen. Co-workers told investigators that Rachel was Denofa’s favorite dancer. Further investigation at the Econo Lodge uncovered Rachel’s blood in the parking lot underneath the balcony railing. Video surveillance from a Pennsylvania Toll Plaza at Interchange 29 captured a Dodge Ram truck owned by Denofa. It showed a potential body in the truck’s bed. A person in a tractor-trailer also confirmed this. They same someone they thought was drunk in the truck bed and simply getting a ride home. When the same Dodge Ram truck was video captured 25 minutes later coming back into Pennsylvania, the truck bed was empty.

What Investigators Believed Happened to Rachel Siani

Investigators believed that when Rachel saw Denofa at Diva’s that night, she offered to walk him to his room at the Econo Lodge to ensure that he got there safely because of his intoxication. They believe Denofa made a sexual advance toward Rachel, which she refused. Investigators believe Denofa became angry and choked/strangled Rachel until he killed her. In his attempt to move Rachel to his truck bed, he backed his truck up to the balcony. He moved her from the room to the edge of the balcony and lost his grip on her, causing her to fall to the pavement instead of his truck bed. He placed her into the truck bed and drove from Levittown, PA to Burlington, NJ. When he reached the bridge, he removed her from his truck bed, snagged her sweater, and left the blood deposits on the bridge railing. They believe he had intended for her to land in the water, which would have carried her downstream.

Crime scene technicians recovered DNA blood and hair strands from Denofa’s truck bed between the plastic truck bed liner and the metal bed. It was identified as belonging to Rachel.

John “Jack” Denofa

Jack Denofa lived with his wife, Lisa Denofa, in a large home on Deep Creek Way in Buckingham, Pennsylvania. Denofa owned Apex Sign Supplies in Warminster, Pennsylvania. He reportedly served as the chairman of his high school alumni association.

He had received a DUI in 1999, which was why it was common for him to secure a hotel room when he visited Diva’s Gentlemen’s Club. His wife, Lisa, knew about his visit to the club and had driven him there on at least one occasion.

Jack Denofa is Arrested

Jack Denofa was arrested and taken to the Bucks County, Pennsylvania Jail. A judge initially set his bail at $1 million, but the courts later lowered it to $500,000. The trial lasted for approximately one month. On November 29, 2002, the jury deliberated for two hours before finding Denofa guilty of Rachel Siani’s murder. A judge sentenced him to life with the chance of parole after 30 years, which would be 2032, making him 68 years old. Several courts appeals have taken place over the years, but all efforts have been denied.

The Aftermath

Jack Denofa is serving his life sentence at the New Jersey State Prison, formerly Trenton State Prison.

Rachel Elizabeth Siani was laid to rest in the Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

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