Selena Quintanilla-Pérez: The meteoric rise of a Latin superstar and her brutal tragic death aged 23 set for Netflix

As Netflix finds its Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in 'The Walking Dead' star Christian Serratos for its upcoming series, let's take a look at the real story behind the infamous murder that left the world shocked.   


                            Selena Quintanilla-Pérez: The meteoric rise of a Latin superstar and her brutal tragic death aged 23 set for Netflix

Perhaps nothing had shaken the world of Latin music as much as Selena Quintanilla-Pérez's death. The Queen of Tejano music, Selena was murdered by her own fan club president after her adoration for the singer turned into a dangerous obsession - so much so that it ended in murder. As Netflix finds its Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in 'The Walking Dead' star Christian Serratos for its upcoming series, let's take a look at the real story behind the infamous murder that left the world shocked.   

Selena was murdered by Yolanda Saldivar, a fan-turned fan club president, boutique manager, and agent after the killer feared that she would be fired for embezzling  Selena. Multiple attempts were made on Selena's life by Saldivar and in 1995, she managed to murder the young music icon in a Corpus Christi motel room on March 31. Selena was 23 then and she would have been 47 in 2019.  

 



 

Initial complaints

Saldivar was appointed the manager of Selena's boutiques in 1994 by her father Abraham Quintanilla Jr. She had been enthusiastic and eager and her father decided that he make her the president of the Selena fan club. It must have gone well - in just 8 months, Selena signed Saldívar as her registered agent in San Antonio, Texas. Saldivar even moved to be closer to Selena. However, there was trouble in paradise soon after. 

Selena was murdered by Yolanda Saldivar, a fan-turned fan club president, boutique manager, and agent after the killer feared that she would be fired for embezzling from Selena. (Getty Images)

By December that year, her business had begun suffering. There were complaints of bad behavior on Saldivar's end from the employees to the singer but she refused to believe that Saldivar would do anything to hamper her or her empire. The staff turned to her father, who decided to look into the matter. He warned Selena about her but she did not believe him but then, the complaints started escalating.

By January 1995, Selena's fashion designer Martin Gomez, her cousin Debra Ramirez, and clients expressed their concerns over Saldívar's behavior and management skills. Paid members started calling Quintanilla Jr. with complaints of never receiving anything for their paid memberships and when he dug deeper, he found that Saldivar had embezzled more than $60,000 through forged cheques from both the fan club and the boutiques.

Selena wanted to save their friendship

When her father confronted her with his findings and asked her to stay away, Selena did not want to just break off their friendship. Quintanilla Jr. had asked Saldivar that if she didn't produce evidence of her innocence, he would involve the police - he banned her from staying in touch with his daughter. But to Selena, she was a huge part of the success of her Mexican boutique and she had bank records, statements, and financial records necessary for tax filings, making her a resourceful person to have around.

After the meeting with Quintanilla Jr, Saldivar and Selena got into an argument over the phone. She hadn't been happy about her explanations of the missing money and had removed her from the boutique's bank account and replaced her with Irene Herrera who was the club president at the time. This occurred just weeks before Saldivar had successfully executed the killing. 

Four attempts at Selena's life

Quintanilla Jr., during the trial of Saldivar, said that she had tried to kill his daughter four times. She had bought a gun from A Place to Shoot, a San Antonio gun range and shop saying she needed protection. Along with the gun, she bought hollow-point bullets meant to cause more damage than regular ones. 

The first attempt on her life was made on March 13, 1995, when Selena was in Miami, Florida. The two met at a parking lot 25 km from Corpus Christi because of traffic and Selena gave her some good news - she would still be in charge of business affairs in Mexico. She had said that until she found someone to replace her, she could stay. Saldivar even showed Selena the gun she had bought but she had calmed down when Selena convinced her that she would protect her from her father. 

Corpus Christi Police Department booking photo of Yolanda Saldivar

Saldivar returned the gun. Just a week after, she stole again. This time, it was bank statements and a perfume sample on March 26. Then just a day later, she bought the gun again. 

The second attempt was made when she and Selena traveled to Tennessee. Selena had found the bank statements missing and had asked Saldivar to return them to her as soon as they got back home. Saldivar asked her to meet her alone at a motel room but when she reached there, she was mobbed by fans. The third attempt on her life was made in Monterrey that month.

She finally succeeded when Selena and Saldivar met at her motel room, as the two argued about the stolen perfume samples. Angry, Saldivar shot Selena on the right shoulder. The bullet went through her and came out through her chest, causing massive bleeding. She is said to have run down the hallway leaving a trail of blood. 

The hotel staff tried to revive her, but she passed away. Her last words were said to be the name of her killer, Yolanda Saldivar, and her room number, 158. 

Saldívar was tried on one count of first-degree murder. Before her arrest, she held the police and the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit at bay for almost ten hours by holding a gun to her head and wailing. It was one of the most publicly followed trials in the history of the state of Texas. She was sentenced to a maximum of life imprisonment with no eligibility for parole until March 2025. 

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