People in the public eye are prone to making mistakes – incidents of celebrities, public figures and politicians doing or saying something they shouldn’t are extremely common. However, there are a number of influential people in recent history who have had the spotlight trained on them for the worst possible reason. These people, all from different walks of life and with different talents, are accused of being murderers. The reasons why are varied; some are accused of murder in cold blood or of being mentally unstable. Others have claimed that the murder they have been charged with was accidental. Whatever the situation, the fact remains that these people are public figures who appear to have lost their way in some form or another.
The most shocking aspect of all these cases is just how tragic the circumstances are – not least for those who lost their lives, but to a lesser extent for the accused killers whose lives were irreversibly altered. It is extraordinarily difficult to restart one’s career after the storm of media-coverage following an alleged murder. For those who were murdered, an untold amount of grief was caused for loved ones and lives were unjustly cut short but a sad reality of high-profile murder cases is that the well-known killer often takes most of the media attention, while the victim can be easily forgotten in the media circus that follows these incidents.
Take a look at our list of 5 Influential People Charged with Murder to see some of the most recent of high-profile murder cases. The circumstances surrounding each of these cases are extremely diverse, and facts should be considered carefully.
5. Lane Garrison
After Lane Garrison landed a major role in Prison Break, one of the most popular TV series of all time, it seemed like he was about to become one of the most promising young actors alive today. His role as David ‘Tweener’ Apolskis was a huge break for Garrison, who had not done much acting work up to that point. However, in a shocking twist of fate, Garrison was to wind up in prison, just like the character he portrayed in the hit show.
In December 2006, Garrison left a party drunk and climbed into his SUV, along with Vahagn Setian, a 17-year-old boy he had just met at the party. The pair were reportedly taking a trip to buy more alcohol. Garrison was not in a fit state to drive, and ended up crashing into a tree. The teenage passenger was killed instantly. Garrison was sentenced to almost 2 years in prison for manslaughter. Garrison was quite frank about the ordeal, and he seems to have learned from his mistakes. He said of the incident “I will never forget what I did. I go to bed and wake up thinking of the pain I’ve caused… I caused this by choosing to drink and drive. If talking about what happened to me prevents one person from drinking and driving, then this whole tragedy wouldn’t have been in vain.”
4. Phil Spector
Phil Spector was one of the most influential people in the music industry. Spector was an acclaimed record producer and songwriter, who worked with some of the biggest names in music. Spector’s clientele included Tina Turner, The Ramones and the Beatles – he produced their ‘Let It Be album’, which was the Beatles’s final offering to their fans. Spector was hugely repeated within the industry. In 1989, he was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a non-performer for his services to the industry.
In early 2003, the body of actress Lana Clarkson was found in Spector’s Californian mansion. She had been shot in the mouth. After two trials, Spector was found guilty of the second degree murder of Clarkson. Spector’s anger issues had been infamous, and the court was presented with many testimonies from other women he had dated claiming that he had pulled a gun on them. Spector is currently serving a 19 year sentence in the California State Prison, and he will not be eligible for parole until the age of 88.
3. Johnny Lewis
Johnny Lewis, like Lane Garrison, was another young actor on the rise whose future looked bright. Lewis had landed a major role in Sons of Anarchy, in which his acting was met with critical acclaim. He also starred in the OC and The Runaways. Lewis was a rising star in Hollywood, who even dated Katy Perry for a year back in 2005. However, things were about to go wrong for Lewis.
In September 2012, a bizarre chain of events took place. It appeared Lewis strangled his landlady Catherine Davis, 81, to death and proceeded to beat her cat to death. He fled the crime scene by climbing the roof of the house, and was later found dead on the driveway. It is still unknown whether or not Lewis jumped or fell to his death. At the time of the event, actress Shannon Woodward tweeted that Lewis was extremely ill, and that it was not an act that the real Lewis would be capable of. Indeed, it had been reported by his lawyers that Lewis had been recommended treatment but declined it. Unfortunately, his sickness left untreated had tragic consequences.
2. Sid Vicious
Sid Vicious was the bass player and singer of the Sex Pistols, one of the most iconic bands of all time. Leading the punk movement, Vicious was extremely popular with teenagers and adults worldwide. Infamous for his grungy fashion sense and heavy drug use, Vicious was a controversial cultural icon and remains so to this day. Vicious’ relationship with Nancy Spungen, however, would not experience such longevity.
In October 1978, the alarm was raised at the Hotel Chelsea in Manhattan, after Nancy Spungen was discovered dead on the bathroom floor in one of the hotel rooms. She had been stabbed in the stomach, and Vicious was later found in the halls of the hotel, claiming he had woken up to find her body. The pair’s relationship was infamously destructive; both of them were heavy drug users. Vicious was arrested and charged with his late girlfriend’s murder but was later released on bail. He was never convicted for the murder of Nancy Spungen, as he died of a heroin overdose in his sleep three months later. The lethal dose of heroin that Sid had injected that night had been supplied to him by his own mother. Although some argue that Vicious was innocent, it is widely believed that Vicious was Spungen’s killer. It is from this story that the famous phrase “Sid and Nancy” comes from.
1. Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius is a South-African athlete, famous for his sprint-running abilities despite being an amputee. When Pistorius was a baby, his legs were amputated below the knee. Pistorius became a Paralympic champion in his early 20’s, and eventually progressed into races with non-amputees. Pistorius won a world track medal at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, the first amputee in history to achieve this title. However, things did not stay rosy for the young athlete.
On Valentine’s Day 2013, his South-African model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was found shot dead in his luxury home in Pretoria. Pistorius, now on trial for the murder, claims that he believed Steenkamp, who was in the bathroom, was an intruder, and the shots fired through the bathroom door were intended not for this intruder. The trail, which as of today is ongoing, has received massive media coverage worldwide. So far, it seems that the reality of what has happened has affected Pistorius greatly. It was reported that when Steenkamp’s injuries were read out in court, Pistorius began vomiting uncontrollably. At the time of writing no verdict had been reached, so time will tell whether the shooting is deemed intentional murder or a tragic accident.