Of all the criminals in our world, you wouldn’t expect famous celebrities to be on the list. Crimes committed by Hollywood’s elite always seem more dramatic and shocking. Maybe they think they can get away with it due to their status. Maybe they assume they are exempt from the law because they earn millions of dollars and are in the public eye. When it comes to the type of crimes celebrities commit, murder, aggravated assault, and manslaughter do not immediately come to mind.
Unbeknownst to many, several famous people have had a part in the death of another person. Some were involved in tragic accidents, such as vehicle collisions, while other crimes were maliciously planned and executed. Below are a list of 10 celebrities who have either accidentally caused the death of someone, or committed a horrendous murder.
10- Phil Spector: Second- Degree Murder
Record producer, Phil Spector is famous for working with The Ramones, Tina Turner, and the Beatles. Spector is currently serving 19 years to life in jail for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson. In 2003, Clarkson was found dead in a chair with a single gunshot wound to her mouth in Spector’s mansion. Spector claimed the gun shot was self-inflicted, however his limo driver quotes Spector saying “I think I’ve killed someone.” He also stated that he witnessed Spector come out of his house that night with a gun.
The first trial ended in a mistrial due to a hung jury, however the second jury found Spector guilty of murder, and in 2009 he was sentenced to 19 years to life. Something that probably didn’t help Spector- four women he previously dated came out saying Spector pulled a gun on them as well. Spector is eligible for parole in 2028, he will be 88 years old.
9- Matthew Broderick & Jennifer Grey: Accidental Car Collision
Back in 1987, Matthew Broderick, and his then girlfriend, Jennifer Grey, both co-stars in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, were vacationing in Ireland. Broderick mistakenly drove the incorrect way and crashed into an oncoming vehicle. Both the driver and passenger, who were mother and daughter, of the car died from their injuries.
Broderick sustained many injuries such as a broken leg, fractured ribs, a concussion, and a collapsed lung. Grey suffered minor injuries, including whiplash. Broderick was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but was later convicted of a lower charge of careless and reckless driving.
It was especially hard for Jennifer Grey, as she was about to get her big break- Dirty Dancing landed in movie theatres just a few days after the tragic accident. She couldn’t enjoy her sudden fame due to the hardship and grief that came along with the accident. Grey states she never recovered from the trauma, resulting in her turning her back on Hollywood at the young age of 27. She says “my head was never the same, my ambition was never the same.”
8- Charles S. Dutton: Manslaughter
Charles S. Dutton is well-known for his roles in Rudy and the 90’s sitcom ROC. In 1968 when he was only 17, Dutton was convicted of manslaughter. Dutton got into a street fight with another man, which resulted in Dutton killing him. He claimed the victim had attacked him, but Dutton was charged and convicted of manslaughter. He served seven years in prison.
7- Paul Kelly: Manslaughter
Tony Award winner, Paul Kelly, spent 25 months in San Quentin for the murder of another actor Ray Raymond. Kelly, best known for his role in the play Command Decision, got in a fist fight back in 1927 with Raymond, and ended up beating Raymond to death. Raymond’s widow, Dorothy MacKaye was imprisoned briefly as an accomplice to her husband’s murder. MacKaye denied claims that she was romantically involved with Kelly at the time of the murder. However, when Kelly was released from prison, he ended up marrying Kelly.
6- John Landis: Twilight Zone Deaths
Director John Landis, best known for Animal House was charged with involuntary manslaughter after an incident in 1982 on the set of The Twilight Zone. The incident caused the death of actor Vic Morrow and two children who played as extras. Morrow and the children, Myca Le who was 7, and Renee Chen, 6, were killed as a result of an out-of-control helicopter. The three were caught under the helicopter when it crashed on set.
The National Transportation Safety Board reported in October 1984- “(The crash) was due to the failure to establish direct communications and coordination between the pilot… and the film director.” Many members of the film crew stated that Landis was warned of the dangers, but he ignored them. After a nine-month trial, Landis (and the other crew members) were acquitted of the involuntary manslaughter charge. However, Landis ended up paying $2 million to the families of the children who died through an out of court settlement.
5- Rebecca Gayheart: Vehicular Manslaughter
In 2001, Rebecca Gayheart, who is known for being a Noxzema girl and her role in Beverly Hills 90210, hit a 9 year old little boy with her car, who later died from his injuries. Gayheart was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in which she plead “no contest” to.
Gayheart was driving through central LA when the accident happened. Gayheart remembers the incident daily, saying “it’s something that is with me every day, and it will be for the rest of my life.” The accident had such an impact on Gayheart that she even doubted she would return to acting. She couldn’t bring herself to drive, had trouble sleeping and eating, and couldn’t function for a while. However, with therapy and support from her family, she gained the courage she needed to return to the big screen. She settled a wrongful death suit out of court with the boy’s parents.
4- Sid Vicious: Murder
The bassist of the controversial punk rock band Sex Pistols, Sid Vicious, stabbed his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, to death in 1978. Their relationship was no stranger to drama, and was known for being volatile. One night while staying in a New York hotel, Sid said he woke up and found Nancy stabbed to death in the bathroom after a night of partying and heavy drug use. He was arrested for the incident, and oftentimes changed his accounts of what had happened that night. For example, first he stated he stabbed her, but didn’t mean to kill her, then he claimed to have not remember what happened. Though he was charged with murder, Vicious never stood trial because he died from an overdose while out on bail.
3- Don King: Second Degree Murder
Boxing promoter Don King has killed two men, 13 years apart. King has been involved with many well-known names in boxing such as George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, and Mike Tyson. After dropping out of college, King ran an illegal bookmaking operation. The first person he killed, Hillary Brown, was in self-defense as the man was trying to break into King’s gambling operation. King shot Brown in the back, and it was found to be justifiable homicide. The second victim, Sam Garrett, was stomped to death by King because he owed King $600.00. King was convicted of second-degree murder, and served just 4 years in prison. In 1983, King was later pardoned for the crime by Ohio governor Jim Rhodes, with letters of support by numerous famous celebrities, including Jesse Jackson and Coretta Scott King.
2- Jayson Williams: Aggravated Assault
NBA player, Jayson Williams accidentally shot and killed his limousine driver while he was playing with a shot gun. 55 year old Costas Christofi was shot to death at Williams’s estate in New Jersey February 14, 2002. Christofi had been hired to drive Williams’s NBA charity team that day. Williams was playing with a shotgun while giving a tour of his home when the gun went off, killing Christofi.
In 2004, Williams was convicted on four counts of trying to cover up the shooting. In 2010, Williams pled guilty to aggravated assault, and was sentenced to 5 years in prison with the possibility of parole after 18 months. He was eventually released from custody on April 13, 2012.
1- Rae Carruth: First Degree Murder
Rae Carruth, former Carolina Panthers wide receiver is currently in prison after being charged with the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams.
Real estate agent, Cherica Adams, had been casually dating Carruth and was 8 months pregnant with his child when she was shot four times by Adams’ friend Van Brett Watkins. Carruth pulled his car in front of Adams’, while his friend Van Brett Watkins pulled up in a third vehicle and shot Adams four times. Doctors were able to save the baby after performing an emergency C-section, but after a month in a coma, Adams succumbed to her injuries.
When Adams died, Carruth fled, but was later captured in Tennessee where he was found hiding in the trunk of a car outside a motel. Carruth was found not guilty of first degree murder, but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, shooting into an occupied vehicle, and using an instrument to destroy an unborn child. He was sentenced to 18-24 years in prison and is serving his sentence at Harnett Correctional Institution in North Carolina with a projected release date of 2018.