A Life Too Short: The disturbing true story behind The Isabella Nardoni Case

Daisy Phillipson
Isabella Nardoni's mom Ana Carolina OliveiraNetflix

A Life Too Short: The Isabella Nardoni Case is Netflix’s latest true crime entry, examining what remains to be Brazil’s most infamous infanticide case. We’ve broken down the true story behind the documentary, including what happened to Isabella and where Anna Carolina Jatobá and Alexandre Nardoni are now. 

The opening scene of Netflix’s A Life Too Short: The Isabella Nardoni Case features a chilling 911 call, a panicked man describing how a “burglar” had broken into their São Paulo apartment building and thrown a little girl off the sixth floor balcony. 

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It’s a sobering opening, one that reminds viewers of the tragedy at the center of this case. As is explored throughout the documentary, the death of Isabella Nardoni became one of the most infamous in Brazil, while the investigation brought the issue of criminal justice and media sensationalism into question. 

As well as featuring insights from journalists, investigators, and defense attorneys, A Life Too Short: The Isabella Nardoni Case includes never-before-seen testimonies from Isabella’s mom Ana Carolina Oliveira and her grandparents, who hope to keep her memory alive. No doubt viewers have questions, so here’s the shocking true story.

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The Isabella Nardoni Case: What happened to Isabella Nardoni?

On the evening of March 29, 2008, a tragic incident occurred that would shake Brazil and capture the attention of the world: five-year-old Isabella Nardoni was found critically injured after falling from the sixth floor of the Edifício London building in São Paulo. 

She was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead shortly afterward. Initially, the nature of her fall, whether accidental or a deliberate act, was unclear. However, subsequent investigations would point towards a far more sinister conclusion, leading to one of the country’s most high-profile criminal cases.

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The Isabella Nardoni Case: Who is Alexandre Nardoni?

Alexandre Nardoni is the biological father of Isabella Nardoni. An integral figure in the tragic series of events, Alexandre, alongside his wife Anna Carolina Jatobá, was implicated in the crime against his own daughter. 

In A Life Too Short: The Isabella Nardoni Case, we learn that Alexandre came from a wealthy family, his father Antonio being a defense attorney himself and assisting in getting the story of what he believed to be his son’s innocence in the media. 

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Alexandre NardoniNetflix

Alexandre, who was previously with Isabella’s biological mother Ana Carolina Oliveira, had custody of the young girl over the weekends. She would spend the time at his home alongside the two children he’d had with his new wife, Anna Carolina Jatobá.

Following the shocking death of Isabella, both Alexandre and Anna maintained their innocence to the police, telling investigators that a burglar had broken into their home while they were downstairs and thrown her over the balcony. 

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But a number of discrepancies emerged as the investigation continued, including that the safety netting over the balcony had been cut. They also gave inconsistent accounts about the events of the night, which changed during police interviews. 

Forensic evidence found no signs of a break-in at their residence, while blood stains were discovered in the apartment and their car, suggesting Isabella had been assaulted before her fall. Additionally, forensic analysis showed signs that Isabella may have been strangled prior to being thrown from the window.

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The Isabella Nardoni Case: Who is Anna Carolina Jatobá?

Anna Carolina Jatobá is the stepmother of Isabella Nardoni. At the time of the incident, she was married to Alexandre Nardoni. Anna came under intense media scrutiny and public gaze during the investigations into Isabella’s death and the subsequent trial. 

Portrayed as a figure of jealousy and rage by the prosecution, she was accused of having a direct hand in the events leading to Isabella’s tragic demise. She and Alexandre drew further suspicion from the public when a news broadcaster interviewed them both.

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Anna Carolina JatobáNetflix

Some accused Anna of faking tears for the camera, and of interrupting Alexandre whenever he tried to speak. They both also focused a lot of their attention on driving the message that they were innocent, rather than talking about how much they missed Isabella. 

Another reason the couple came under scrutiny was because they refused to partake in a reenactment of the night at their apartment building. The idea was for them to show how the events unfolded in order to support the defense’s case, and by turning this opportunity down, suspicions were raised. To this day, their involvement in the crime is a topic of debate due to the media frenzy that surrounded it. 

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The Isabella Nardoni Case: Where are Anna and Alexandre now?

After a highly publicized trial, both Alexandre Nardoni and Anna Carolina Jatobá were found guilty of Isabella’s murder in March 2010. Alexandre was given 31 years, one month, and 10 days in prison, a particularly lengthy sentence due to the fact that the victim was his own daughter. Meanwhile, Anna received 26 years and eight months. 

Their incarceration has continued to generate media interest, especially amid the release of the new Netflix documentary. According to the film, from 2008, the couple were serving time in Brazilian prisons. But in June 2023, Anna left to serve the rest of her sentence in an open regime, which has less restrictions. Meanwhile, Alexandre continues to serve his sentence in a semi-open regime, with the benefit of occasional furloughs since 2019. They both maintain their innocence. 

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A photo of Isabella NardoniNetflix

Despite the outcome of the trial, there are still many experts and public members who believe the couple did not carry out the crime, arguing that police are still unable to pinpoint the exact turn of events, and that the media frenzy impacted the outcome of the trial. As is the case with all tragedies, it’s essential to differentiate between court evidence and the public’s perception.

A Life Too Short: The Isabella Nardoni Case is available to stream on Netflix now, and you can check out some of our other documentaries coverage below:

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True story of The Lucie Blackman Case | Where is Natalia Grace?Who are the Duggars? | Victim/Suspect explained | Missing Dead or Alive explained | True story behind The Playing Card Killer | True story behind Take Care of Maya | HBO’s Burden of Proof explained | How to watch David Fuller: Monster in the Morgue | How to watch the Hart family murders documentary | True story of The Deepest Breath | True story of Last Call

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About The Author

Daisy is a Senior TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's a lover of all things macabre, whether that be horror, crime, psychological thrillers or all of the above. After graduating with a Masters in Magazine Journalism, she's gone on to write for Digital Spy, LADbible and Little White Lies. You can contact her on daisy.phillipson@dexerto.com