George Skiadopoulos, 24, has confessed to strangling Scully on 8 January, then burning her remains before hacking off her head. He stuffed the body inside a suitcase and threw her head into the sea.
He had tried once before to kill her, but was stopped by his family, an investigator claimed yesterday. His claim came as medical examiners conducted an autopsy on the charred and headless remains of Scully.
"A violent suffocation, which at this time I cannot confirm was a strangulation," said coroner Filippos Koutsaftis of the cause of death. He added some uncertainty remained about the strangulation because her neck was severed.
Private investigator John Kolivas, hired by Scully's family, alleged Skiadopoulos had also tried to choke her at the end of last year, but was stopped by his mother. It was the second reported choking incident involving Skiadopoulos and members of Scully's family. While visiting Mansfield last summer, Skiadopoulos allegedly choked Scully's mother during an argument, and police charged him with simple assault. He was barred from contact with her and allowed to return to Greece.
Scully went to Greece with plans to marry Skiadopoulos, a petty officer aboard a cruise ship whom she met on a Caribbean trip while still married. But she had a change of heart and told her boyfriend she was returning home to New Jersey because she missed her three-year-old daughter.
According to police, that caused Skiadopoulos to fly into a rage and strangle Scully, known in New Jersey as a bikini-clad "Page Six Girl" for the tabloid Trentonian.
Skiadopoulos later concocted a story about how she disappeared in central Athens and began a search to find her. (AP)