Former Fiola General Manager Convicted of Murder Is Now in a Netflix Docuseries

Former Fiola General Manager Convicted of Murder Is Now in a Netflix Docuseries
Former Fiola General Manager Convicted of Murder Is Now in a Netflix Docuseries

One day in August of 2017, Evan Wald didn’t show up to his job as general manager of fine-dining Italian restaurant Fiola. “We all were at the corporate office and kind of freaking out,” a corporate manager tells Washingtonian. “Is he okay? You think it’s an accident. You think it’s the hospital. Something tragic, right?” Another colleague called Wald’s wife, who texted back that they were having “a major family emergency.” Only later did the staff learn the real reason for his abrupt disappearance: He had been arrested for murder.

Wald and Roslyn Pilmar, his sister, would later be convicted of killing her husband, Howard Pilmar, in an alleged life insurance payout scheme. The wealthy New York businessman, who owned an office supply company and boutique coffee shops, was stabbed more than 40 times in the hallway outside his Manhattan office in 1996. For two decades, the case went unsolved.

Now a new Netflix docuseries from Law & Order producer Dick Wolf, Homicide: New York, details how investigators ultimately brought Wald and Pilmar to justice. (The siblings were sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2019.) But despite widespread news coverage of the trial and the new show, Wald’s connection to DC’s restaurant scene has gone largely unreported. “He was a hardworking manager,” one former colleague of Wald’s says. “He came to work on time, he cared about his job. He was just your everyday, run-of-the-mill guy. There were never any issues with drinking. There was no aggression. There was never any warning signs at all that this happened.” (Former employees of Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants who spoke to Washingtonian requested anonymity because the company told them not to speak about the situation.)

But a corporate manager had a very different impression of Wald: “He was pretty bizarre, honestly. He would get very, very angry at staff, and it would be from zero to a hundred. The problem is that you associate it with, ‘Oh, you’re a tough manager because you care…’ We wanted to be like Eleven Madison Park. People are intense in front of house and back of house, but he took it too far and it made people uncomfortable.”

Wald had started his hospitality career working for his brother-in-law Howard’s coffee business, Philip’s Coffee. According to the Netflix episode, dubbed “Midtown Slasher,” police suspected that Wald and his sister were behind his murder of him early on. The siblings had both visited him at his office the night before he was found dead. Police also noted that Wald had a cut on his hand when he was questioned about the stabbing, which he attributed to a broken plate he dropped. Later, his DNA matched a small drop of blood found near the crime scene. And before the murder, Wald reportedly threatened to kill Howard if he ever hurt his sister.

Meanwhile, Roslyn had a motive: She owed $160,000 to a former employer she was caught stealing from but had kept it secret from her husband. And apparently the Pilmars were headed for divorce. After the murder, she received more than a million dollars from his life insurance policies and inherited his businesses along with multiple properties.

But ultimately, investigators didn’t feel they had enough solid evidence at the time for a conviction. It wasn’t until decades later, when detectives picked up the cold case again, that new circumstantial evidence emerged, including testimony from a former nanny who observed unusual behavior from Roslyn leading up to and after the murder. Wald and his sister both pleaded not guilty.

In the decades that followed the murder, Wald worked in catering and restaurants, according to his LinkedIn profile. He appears to have arrived in the DC area in 2016, when he was general manager of Robert Irvine Fresh Kitchen in the Pentagon. He worked at Fiola for less than a year in 2017 before he was arrested.

“This guy actually has to walk me to my car at night to protect me after a long day because it’s dark,” says one of the former colleagues. “You have a murderer who stabbed someone 40 times walking you to your car in the dark alone. You think about all those things.”

The FBI and New York investigators interviewed staff at Fiola, looking for insights into Wald’s behavior and any hints about his past. A former colleague remembered one thing: “He told me it was that his brother-in-law was murdered a couple decades ago. But obviously, I didn’t assume that it was going to be him. I remember being a little shocked when he told me. I said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ He said, ‘No, it’s OK, we’ve moved on.’”

Jessica Sidman

Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind DC’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian In July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania graduate.

 
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