The Crazy Fan Murder of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez

Introduction

A black and white photo of a woman in a dress spoon feeding a dark-haired newborn baby
Selena as a baby with her mother (Photo belongs to: Abraham Quintanilla)

Early Life

“Her timing, her pitch were perfect. I could see it from day one.”

Selena in a purple dress around age 10 singing into a microphone in front of a band
Selena performing as a child
Selena, her brother, her sister, her father, and her mother standing outside a large white and brown bus
Selena and her family outside of Big Bertha

Discovery

Pérez

Chris Perez and Selena posing for a photo in matching baseball jerseys
Perez and Selena

“I’m a shy person by nature, and there was just something about her that she was able to pull me out.”

1990s

A black and white profile photo of Selena in a spiked hairdo with the words “Selena: Ven Conmigo”
Selena’s second studio album cover
Chris Perez holding Selena in a bridal carry pose
Selena and Perez

“It kind of hurt his pride and his ego to find out that he was the last to know. When things got tense and things were said by him, it hurt me that he was saying it, but I didn’t let it get to me because I knew deep down, he knew the kind of person I was.”

1994–1995

Selena on a red carpet holding a Grammy award
Selena holding a Grammy

Author Matt Meier wrote that Selena had a “contagious energy… warmth, passion, and sexuality” and had the “down-to-Earth persona of the wholesome young girl next door.”

Yolanda Saldivar

“If Selena would say, ‘Jump!’, [Saldívar] would jump three times.”

“A woman who moved into an apartment with Yolanda discovered that Yolanda didn’t just have pictures of Selena on her walls — the whole place was ‘like a shrine.”

Selena standing with her hands clasped next to Saldivar who is speaking into a microphone
Selena and Saldivar

“I told Selena I was scared of Yolanda. She wouldn’t let me talk to Selena anymore. She was very possessive.”

“So many things would happen to the clothing I was working on. I knew that I had finished a certain piece, but I would come back from a trip to New York and the hems would be ripped out. It was very strange.”

Selena smiling and talking to someone off camera. Saldivar stands next to her, circled in red
Selena and Saldivar at an event

March 31st

A red door and windows of a motel with messages covering the walls and flowers outside
Saldivar’s hotel room after fans left tributes

“Help me! I’ve been shot!”

“Lock the door! She’ll shoot me again.” Selena’s last words were, “Yolanda. 158.”

“We have a woman ran in the lobby said she’s been shot. She’s laying on the floor and there’s blood.”

Saldivar with a serious expression pointing her finger at her temple
Saldivar in an interview with 20/20 after the murder

“I can’t believe I killed my best friend” and “I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t mean to kill anybody.”

A newspaper with the headline “Loss of a Hometown Hero”
The local newspaper after the murder

Aftermath

“It was traumatic, it was the hardest thing up until that point that I had ever had to go through. I [still] miss her face, her laughter. She was just an amazing soul, an amazing spirit.”

“Them pushing play for me to record the guitar tracks and to hear her voice coming out the speakers in the studio, it was just painful to go in [the recording booth] and have to create parts and make them sound a certain way, when really inside you’re just dying.”

A portrait of Selena

“Music I heard with you was more than music. You will be deeply missed.”

A large group of people standing on either side of a casket underneath a metal awning
Selena’s funeral

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet….When the perishable has been clothes with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Selena’s family members place roses on her casket
Selena’s family (L to R): Abraham, Marcella, Chris Perez, Suzette

“This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul… Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth.”

Trial

“[Selena] went down, she grabbed my feet and told me not to leave her and I picked her up and told her ‘just leave. I grabbed the gun, put it to my head, pulled the thing back, and I said ‘if you don’t leave, I’m gonna do it Selena. [Selena] told me: ‘Yolanda, I don’t want you to kill yourself.’ She opened the door. When I told her to close it, the gun went off.”

Saldivar in an orange prison jumpsuit, clutching a folder with two men in dark uniforms next to her
Saldivar in custody
A handwritten sign that says “Life in Prison” and a white rose
A mourner’s sign outside the prison and a white rose in memory of Selena

“Tears, cheers, and honking car horns mixed with the strains of Selena’s music on boom boxes outside the Harris County Courthouse where a crowd of about 200 people celebrated Yolanda Saldívar’s guilty verdict Monday.”

“They made me out to be a monster. I just want to say, I did not kill Selena. It was an accident and my conscience is clear.”

“It was no accident. It was a moment of rage because she was being fired.”

“When it comes to my family and I, we don’t care if they release her today. They can let her go. Nothing will bring my daughter back.”

Legacy

Selena with her arms raised on a stage
A photo of Selena performing

“I hope not. That would make for a lot of idiots in [South Texas].”

Selena at a charity baseball game

“The Tejano market died with her.”

Selena’s family members kneeling on the ground making prayer signs with their hands towards the sky
Selena’s family at the unveiling of her Hollywood star
Crowds surrounding a bronze statue of Selena leaning against a wall
Mirador de La Flor

Perez vs. the Quintanillas

“But, I mean, it’s an easily explainable thing, in that if she and I were the only ones present, who’s perspective are you gonna believe: The person that was there or the person that’s gonna say they were told something?”

Actors playing Selena and her bandmates stand in front of a background of lit up stars
“Selena y Los Dinos” as portrayed in the Netflix show

“It left me really sad, because she’s my idol. It was taken care of, we spoke with them through my agent, but it just made me really sad. I understand their concerns when people use her actual logo. But I wish they were a little more open to how everyone honors her and pays tribute to her.”

“It’s crazy. It grows every day with events everywhere, but we’re not organizing them. Our family never got together every year on the day of her murder, because there’s nothing to celebrate, and this year won’t be the exception. We remember our daughter every single day. We don’t need a special day to remember her.”

A middle-aged Perez in a suit vest and purple tie
Pérez in a recent photograph

“I heard fans that are like, ‘How could we let that happen?’ Come on now. You think that I would let anything happen to her? Seriously? None of us thought that that was even a possibility. On the road, we had security so I never really feared for her safety, especially the way it happened to her. The fact that one of her friends did that, it’s just unbelievable.”

“[Her legacy] just keeps getting bigger and bigger and I think it’s an amazing thing and I’m proud to be attached to it in the way that I am… I’m proud of her. Proud of everything that she’s been able to accomplish.”

“I think it’s because of what she represents, which is strong morals, family, hard work ethic, you know, she was a good person all the way around, and we already know how talented she was. So, if that’s how people want to use her image or treat it, I mean, I think it’s a good thing.”

“When Selena passed away, I told my family that I was going to try to keep her memory alive through her music. Twenty-five years later, I think we, as a family, accomplished that.”

Conclusion

Selena smiling and looking off-camera

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