Shocking: Nicole Virzi, the Ph.D. Student Accused of Killing One Infant Twin and Assaulting the Other, is Daughter of a Prominent Manhattan Cardiologist

Virzi is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate at San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology

Shocking details have emerged out in the ghastly incident of death of six-weeks-old Leon Katz. Nicole Virzi,the accused of murdering the infant son of one of her closest friends is daughter of a prominent Manhattan cardiologist. Virzi, a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate at San Diego State University/UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, also faces accusations of physically abusing the baby's twin brother.

The tragic event occurred on Father's Day when six-week-old Leon Katz, son of Ethan Katz and Savannah Roberts, died under Virzi's care in the family's Pittsburgh home. Authorities stated that Virzi and Roberts, both doctoral students focused on eating disorders and trauma, had known each other for years.

Nicole Virzi and infants

Roberts, studying at the University of Pittsburgh, and Virzi, at San Diego State, had formed a close bond over their shared academic interests. On that fateful day, the couple left Leon with Virzi to rush his twin brother, Ari, to the hospital for a mysterious injury to his genitals that Virzi had alerted them to.

According to police and court records, Virzi claimed that Leon fell from his bouncer chair while she stepped away to get a bottle. However, doctors found the injuries to be consistent with child abuse, stating they were "inflicted injuries that are not natural and not accidental."

Leon Katz
Six-week-old Leon Katz was murdered by family friend Nicole Virzi according to police X

Virzi had been staying at a nearby Airbnb on South Graham Street in the Shadyside neighborhood when she was asked to care for Leon. A criminal complaint obtained by Pittsburgh's TRIBLive mentioned that Leon was "alert, conscious and not injured" when left in Virzi's care. The reason for Virzi's presence in Pittsburgh remains unclear, but traces of the friendship between her and Roberts were evident online.

At 11:17 p.m. on June 15, Virzi called 911, reporting that the baby had suffered a bump to his head. She told police that she started babysitting Leon around 6:30 p.m. and claimed he had been fine, had eaten, soiled two diapers, and been burped. Virzi said she fell asleep for a period and, upon waking, went to the kitchen for a bottle. She then heard the baby screaming and found him on the floor with a large bump on his head.

Paramedics rushed Leon to the hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead at 5:47 a.m. on Father's Day. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death a homicide due to blunt force trauma. A head CT scan revealed a severe skull fracture and multiple brain bleeds.

Virzi, a graduate of Pepperdine University with a degree in clinical psychology from San Diego State, grew up in the tri-state area as the daughter of Dr. Peter J. Virzi, a respected cardiologist at Mt. Sinai Doctors in Manhattan.

Virzi was charged on June 16 with criminal homicide, three counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of child endangerment. She is being held without bail at the Allegheny County Jail. Her attorney, David Shrager, insists on her innocence, stating, "She is obviously devastated. She's highly distraught and deeply sad. She said it was nothing intentional. We're doing a deep investigation."

A GoFundMe page described Virzi as a "trusted family friend," adding to the shock of those who knew her. Roberts has declined to comment on the incident. The community remains stunned by the allegations against Virzi, who was also known as an instructor at Cyclebar Carmel Valley in San Diego.