On this date in in crime history – March 31, 1995, Mexican-American pop star Selena was shot and killed by her former fan club president. She was born Selena Quintanilla-Perez in Lake Jackson, Texas on April 16. 1971. Selena grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, where she began her musical career. Her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., was a singer with the original Los Dinos from 1957-1972, and nurtured the burgeoning musical talent of his children. When Selena was just 3 years old, she demanded to know why her father was leaving her out of the music. Abraham simply said she was too young. Right then Selena showed him she was not too young, she showed him her own instrument, her voice. Abraham couldn't believe what a beautiful sound she heard. By the time Selena was 6, she was already singing like a pro in English and in Spanish, even though she didn't speak the language, alongside her brother, sister, and father.
When Selena was 9, her father started the group Selena Y Los Dinos (Selena and The Guys). The group's first performances were in Papagallos, the Quintanilla family's restaurant. In 1986, Selena's career really began to take off with the release of her first album, Alpha. At the Tejano Music Awards, she took the award for Female Vocalist of the Year. In 1988, she recorded two more albums, but it wasn’t until the following year that she got her big break. That year, she signed with Capitol/EMI Latin label. By this time, Selena's concerts were drawing thousands of people. In 1990, a fan approached Selena’s father with the idea of starting a fan club. Her name was Yolanda Saldivar. Her wish was granted. She was often referred to as Selena's biggest fan. In 1993, she won a Grammy Award for Best Mexican American Performance.
In February of 1995, trouble started with the Selena Fan Club. People were complaining that they weren't receiving their packets they paid for. The Quintanilla family confronted Yolanda, who by this time was also manager of Selena’s boutiques. Money was reported missing and On March 12, 1995, Yolanda was fired. On March 31, 1995, Selena went to where Yolanda was staying in Corpus Christi, a Days Inn motel, to get some missing paperwork. There Yolanda told her she had been raped in Monterey, Mexico and needed to go to the hospital. Being the kind person that Selena was, she took her. After about an hour, Selena and Yolanda returned to the motel and argued. Selena told her that she just couldn't be trusted anymore. At 11:48 a.m., Yolanda took out a gun, and fired at Selena. The bullet struck her in her right shoulder. With all her strength, Selena ran towards the lobby to get help. She collapsed on the floor as the clerk called 911. Soon an ambulance came to take Selena to the hospital where she was pronounced dead at 1:09 p.m. News of Selena's death spread all over the world. Thousands of fans passed by her coffin. In July of 1995, her dream of crossing over into the pop market was accomplished. The first single released from her English album Dreaming of You, "I Could Fall in Love," became a number one hit. Yolanda Saldivar was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison on October 23, 1995.
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime. Visit the author’s website for more information: www.michaelthomasbarry.com
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