The magic of beauty pageants is all smoke and mirrors, but for those that make a career out of smiling and waving, winning a title is serious business- along with that title comes prestige, recognition and, of course the opportunity to turn it into cash or a career in modeling, acting, etc. Thousands of people empty out their bank accounts to primp and prime themselves to look camera ready, hoping to win the hearts of pageant judges everywhere and move on to bigger and better things. For some, the pressure motivates them to crush the competition, but for others, the attention becomes too much and they spiral out of control.
For those that are used to wearing a crown and being in the spotlight, it may seem that they can get away with anything — even murder. Literally murder, as we’ll see. We’ll also see that a common post-pageant career, for some unknown reason, is that of a drug smuggler, as many beauty queens find themselves on the arms of drug lords. If they aren’t working as mules for their criminal beaus, some former queens find themselves addicted and strung out, and their once Vaselined, sparkling teeth become rotted with broken dreams. Whatever their case may be, whether they’ve killed a lover or were arrested for stealing change, these ladies risked their crowns, became bad girls of the pageant world, and were caught up in sensational scandals. Here are 15 of the worst beauty queens gone bad.
15. A Night In Jail For Forgery
Teenagers are known to push the limits, testing the waters to see what they can and can’t get away with. Madison Cox, a 17-year-old who was 2015’s Miss Teen South Carolina International, found herself on the wrong side of the law when she was caught forging doctor’s notes from Parris Family Chiropractic. She used the notes to excuse herself from school on multiple occasions until finally the school contacted the office to verify her absences.
The teen was arrested and spent one night in jail. She then took to her Twitter account to detail her experiences, claiming to not understand why everyone was making such a big deal about doctor’s notes and said that people were too obsessed with her life. Someone should have told her that forgery is a crime, but hopefully her slap on the wrist was enough to keep her from sporting an orange jumpsuit again.
14. Wanna-Be Drug Kingpin Busted In Motel
By 2014 Jamie Lynn France hit rock bottom and was far from her tiara wearing days as 2009 Miss Teen Oregon-World. She was busted along with her drug dealer Jarrod Wells inside of a motel room in Oregon. Police first went searching for Wells at his home and while there they found mushrooms, methamphetamine, heroin, and records of drug sales strewn throughout the house. The house was in chaos and had evidence of smoke damage. They arrested Wells’ wife Erin and charged her with possession of drugs and child neglect.
13. The Model And Her Mexican Drug Lord Boyfriend
If you think that authorities aren’t watching what you post on social media, oh, how naive you are. That’s exactly how they took down 2008 Colombian beauty pageant winner Juliana Sossa Toro and her alleged Mexican drug lord boyfriend Jorge Balderas Garza. Police were trying to track down Garza’s whereabouts when they caught a break when the pageant queen unwittingly posted the location of her neighborhood in Mexico in 2011.
Toro was arrested alongside her beau when the police swept through the location. They found that five other people were living at the home. Investigators believed that Garza was a heavy drug trafficker who was also accused of shooting Paraguayan soccer player Salvador Cabanas in the head while he was out at a nightclub in Mexico City. The attack wasn’t fatal, but the bullet is still lodged in his brain and his career came to a screeching halt.
12. Stripped Of Her Crown For Violating Probation
Some could say that Caitlin Cifuentes just wanted to keep her police record under wraps because she didn’t want people to falsely judge her character. Others could argue that the beauty queen didn’t want to get into more trouble with the law because she was on probation. Whatever the reason, her pageant rivals weren’t about to let her keep her crown.
Cifuentes had just been named Miss Corpus Christi Latina in the summer of 2016, but just a month later she found that her fellow contestants dug up dirt about her past that caused her to be stripped of her crown. What Cifuentes didn’t tell pageant officials was that in 2013 she was arrested for a DWI when she was involved in a car crash. She was also on probation for an aggravated assault charge, she had previously been married, and she was actively on probation that prohibited her from being in nightclubs or bars — the last of which she was violating seeing as how she was caught on camera going into a club; she also worked at a sports bar. Her attorney claimed that she had permission from a judge to work at the bar and the only reason she was in a nightclub was to compete in the pageant.
11. This Queen Had Racy Photos And Was Caught Selling Drugs
Katie Rees already held the title for Miss Nevada USA 2007 and was on her way to compete in the 2007 Miss USA pageant — every beauty queen’s dream. However, those stars in her eyes were clouded over when she was dethroned after sexually explicit photos began circulating in the media. They were taken at a nightclub in Florida three years prior, while she was in college, but the organization didn’t think it was a good reflection upon them so they took away her crown and gave it to her runner-up, Helen Salas.
That wasn’t the end of Miss Rees’ run-ins with the law. In 2008 she was arrested in Las Vegas for allegedly assaulting a police officer. A year later she was stopped by customs in Sydney, Australia after her luggage and laptop were swabbed and tested positive for hard drugs. She and a friend were questioned by customs officials, but no drugs were found and the pair were let go.
In 2014, the former beauty queen caught four felony charges related to the possession and distribution of methamphetamine. Then the following year, Rees’ boyfriend was pulled over in his vehicle for failing to signal when changing lanes and officers found smoking pipes, rolling papers, marijuana, Xanax, Oxycontin, and another drug that tested positive for meth. She was charged once again, this time for five drug counts.
10. Arrested For Skipping Out On A Tab And Possessing Mary Jane
She’s now a model that goes by the name Elle Evans and has been hitting the red carpet with her boyfriend Matt Bellamy, the lead singer of the rock band Muse, but back in 2008 her reputation wasn’t as golden when she was known as Lindsey Evans, Miss Louisiana Teen USA.
Evans was enjoying her reign until it was taken away from her after she and three of her friends skipped out on a $46.07 bill at the Posados Cafe in Bossier City, LA. The ladies were so quick to get out of the restaurant that Evans accidentally left her purse behind. Management called the police and when they arrived and searched through the handbag they found the beauty queen’s driver’s license and a bag of marijuana.
Evans and friends realized their mistake and quickly returned to the restaurant where they were stopped and arrested. One of the girls said that they dipped out because service was slow. At the time, surely Evans would have rather stayed and paid the bill instead of being stripped of her crown, but she’s definitely doing fine for herself now.
9. Law Student Attempts To Kidnap And Torture Boyfriend
Kumari Fulbright seemed to have a promising future before she got tangled in a web of lies and crime. She was a student at the University of Arizona’s law school and was once Miss Pima County 2005 and Miss Desert Sun 2006, but her life took a turn for the worse by 2007. The 28-year-old, along with three other men, was arrested for kidnapping, robbing, and torturing Fulbright’s boyfriend, Joshua Conway.
According to court papers, Fulbright was dating Conway when she asked him if he could sell her jewelry that was given to her by her ex-boyfriend, Robert Ergonis. Soon Ergonis was once again a part of her life, but she lied to him and told him that Conway stole the jewelry from her and sold it without her knowledge.
Ergonis and friends lured Conway to his apartment where the unsuspecting victim was tied up, beaten, and cut with a knife for 10 hours. Fulbright pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison and six months probation.
8. Distributed Child %^&* Of Toddler Relative
She was crowned Mrs. Orange County in 2014 and competed in the Mrs. California pageant that same year, but just one year later 25-year-old Meghan Breanna Alt was behind bars facing serious charges. Police say that she created an ad on Craigslist offering sexual services. In one of those encounters she had her young children in the area.
It wasn’t until Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) found photos of child “entertainment” on a Marine’s computer that Alt showed up on the police’s radar. The 4-year-old was a young, female relative of Alt’s who she took sexually explicit photos of and sold for money. During the investigation Alt admitted to all of her wrongdoing, but said that her husband didn’t know anything about it so he was given custody of their children. Because Alt was known to volunteer at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in San Clemente and Irvine, police believe there are other victims that they don’t know about.
7. Faked Cancer And Stole Thousands In Donations
Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International broke the hearts of many when she announced that she was battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Brandi Lee Weave-Gates first told friends and family about her diagnosis and as the word spread, people began donating money and gifts. There was even a Bingo For Brandi event where $14,000 was raised to help for her non-existent treatment.
To add insult to injury, Weaver-Gates shaved her head to appear as if she was undergoing chemotherapy treatments. She told people that she was a patient at Geisinger Medical Center and UPMC Medical Centers; however neither facility show any records of Weaver-Gates ever being admitted.
Her ruse unraveled when an anonymous caller tipped off police that Weaver-Gates was faking her illness for profit, and once they started digging into her personal life, it wasn’t long before they found out that the former beauty queen was a fraud. She was arrested, charged with theft by deception and receiving stolen property, and was stripped of her title.
6. Helped Her Lover Commit Murder
Former Ms. Washington Peggy Sue Thomas retired from her life as a pageant queen and in 2003 she was dating James Huden and working as a beautician in the Pacific Northwest. The owner of the salon, Breanna Douglas, told Thomas that her husband, Russell, was physically abusive to her. When Thomas told her boyfriend about her employer’s abusive relationship, it triggered something within him. Although Huden and Russell Douglas had never met, the news reminded him of how he was abused as a child, so he decided to exact revenge.
The day after Christmas, Thomas lured Douglas to a remote area by telling him that she was going to give him a gift for his wife. While he waited for a meeting that was never to happen, Huden shot him in the face. Investigators first thought that Douglas’s wife hired a hit man to kill him for his insurance money, but a tipster who ended up being a friend and band mate of Huden’s called the police and spilled the beans.
Huden ended up fleeing to Mexico and Thomas moved to Las Vegas, married a millionaire, relocated to New Mexico, divorced her husband, and moved back to Washington. The Mexican police took down Huden in 2011 and he told them Thomas was his sidekick in the crime. She, too, was arrested and pled guilty to a lesser charge and served out her four years in prison. She continues to claim that she’s innocent.
5. Theft, Underage Drinking, And Dirty Videos
Stealing money from a bus fare box doesn’t seem like the type of thing that an 18-year-old crowned as Miss Delaware Teen USA would do, but Melissa King found herself in handcuffs for the petty crime. The alleged theft was in June 2013, just two months before King’s second run-in with the law, when she was cited for possessing alcohol while underage.
That wasn’t the biggest scandal of King’s reign, however. When a sex video surfaced online featuring a young woman who both looked and sounded like King, accusations began to fly that the beauty queen had turned into an adult star. The young lady in the video told the cameraman that she’d just turned 18 in March of that year, described her favorite sex positions, talking about being in beauty pageants, and then performed a number of sex acts on film.
King wholeheartedly denied that the girl on the tape was her, but she still turned over her crown and resigned her position.
4. Flight Attendant Abandons Coke While Making Her Way Through TSA
In 2007 Marsha Gay Reynolds was the runner-up in the Miss Jamaica Universe pageant and won third place in 2008 at the Miss Jamaica World competition. By early 2016 she was working for JetBlue airlines as a flight attendant. One day, as she was making her way through Los Angeles International Airport, she was stopped by security for a random screening. She immediately made a call and seemed nervous, but by the time that conversation was over the former beauty queen kicked off her Gucci shoes, dropped her luggage, and took off running.
When security looked inside her two suitcases they found 70 pounds of cocaine worth over $3 million on the streets, so no one was very surprised as to why she had sprinted away from the scene. Now, how she was able to get on a flight and make her way home to New York City is still a mystery, but she was able to fly to John F. Kennedy International Airport. As soon as she stepped off the plane, however, she turned herself in to authorities and was charged with possession and intent to distribute.
3. From Beauty Queen To Making Homemade Bombs
Three 18-year-olds faced serious charges back in 2013 when police say they made and tossed bombs, putting citizens of Riverton, Utah’s in danger. Kendra Gill, a former Miss Riverton, who was gearing up to compete for Miss Utah, along with two of her friends, was accused of using plastic bottles, household cleaning chemicals, and aluminum foil to make the explosives, then driving around the city, throwing them out of the car’s windows at both people and buildings.
Late that evening police began receiving a number of calls from concerned citizens who complained of hearing loud popping noises outside. Witnesses described a mysterious car to police and it wasn’t hard to track it down. They were charged with 10 counts each of setting off an incendiary device, but Gill pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of attempted possession of a chemical device. After completing 200 hours of community service, all charges were dismissed.
2. Drunken Rage
Alcohol can make people do crazy things, and according to police, it brought out 22-year-old Miss Kentucky Latina Daniela Gaskie’s violent side in 2010. Police say the beauty queen visited a Swifty gas station and after having an altercation with the attendant, stabbed him in the neck with a pen. She walked outside and began beating on a random vehicle until the owner, a pharmacist who worked at the drug store across the street from the gas station, came outside to stop her.
That’s when Gaskie kicked, kneed, scratched, and punched the pharmacist until she was battered and bruised. When she was arrested, police say they could smell the booze on her, but she accused them of racial profiling for being Mexican. She was charged with disorderly conduct, assault, and criminal mischief.
1. Colombian Queen Charged With Running Child Ring
Cartagena is Colombia’s fifth largest city, boasting beautiful beaches and historic landmarks which tourists flock to every year. On the surface it’s an ideal vacation spot, but not everything is as it seems. In 2014 the United States Immigration and Customs joined forces with Colombia’s Navy and Coast Guard for an undercover sting operation. They were investigating a child prostitution ring in the area that was targeting foreign tourists.
Their investigation sent them to the Caribbean Islas de Rosario islands where there was an illegal party that was taking place with four adults and 25 minors. When authorities arrived, all the adults were arrested, including model Kelly Johana Suárez, who competed for the Miss Cartagena pageant in 2013. While her lawyer claimed that she was just a guest and innocent bystander, investigators say that she used her beauty and popularity to recruit kids from local neighborhoods. In the end, 55 children were rescued from the operation and 12 adults were taken into custody, all facing five to 20 years in prison.