Murder they wrote – and mostly, the celebs played out the murder onscreen or tried to appear murderous in their sports’ professions, or hell, even sang about slashing and clobbering and all things bloody and gory.
But sometimes, the blood spilled into their real lives – and many either ended up dead or became murderers themselves. Whether it was the fame or the adulation that turned them into stone-cold killers, or just obsessive love that got them killed instead, what we usually see onscreen in movies became real life for many of them. And these celebrities were not murdered by strangers but by their loved ones, their better halves, or rather their worse halves.
And if these celebs killed, they killed their partners too – and sometimes also their children. Why do people do this, why do they kill the ones they swore to love and protect all their lives? Psychiatrists and mental health experts may have fancy terms for this deranged behavior, but for the world in general – these are the famous people who flipped and slipped up bad – and either killed their spouses or got killed instead.
Their stories are tragic and sad and became fodder for the media as well as for the general public – examples of how not to live your life. These are 15 celebrities who murdered their partners, and some who got murdered themselves and left behind a legacy of pain, betrayal, and tragedy.
15. Chris Benoit: Murdered His Wife, His Son & Then Offed Himself
Chris Benoit was a professional wrestler with a 22-year-old career behind him, and many considered him one of the greats. He held 22 championships between WWF/WWE, WCW, NJPW, and ECW. He was a two-time world champion, having been a one-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion, and a one-time World Heavyweight Champion in WWE and was even set to win a third world championship – that is the day he died.
When he did not show up for the match and all calls went unanswered, the police were asked to do a welfare check on him. And the authorities discovered the dead and bound body of Benoit’s wife Nancy, the body of their seven-year-old son Daniel, and finally Chris’ body. Nancy had been bound, wrapped in a towel and asphyxiated while Daniel too had been strangled, though toxicology revealed that they both had been drugged as well. And then two days later, Chris Benoit used a weight machine to break his own neck. No suicide note was ever found – though many theories of this murder-suicide popped up: steroid abuse, brain damage, and a failing marriage. Benoit’s brain scan later showed his brain to be equal to that of an 85-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, a result of a lifetime of concussions and injury! A sad legacy for a bright star…
14. Oscar Pistorius: Once Hailed A Hero, Now Just A Murderer
Who hasn’t heard of Oscar Pistorius? The world praised his good looks and his zeal – and everyone found him heroic when this double-amputee competed against and won in the non-disabled sprinter category in the World Championships in athletics and also became the first double amputee to participate in the Olympics. To top it all off, he was in a loving relationship with model Reeva Steenkamp and all seemed glorious in his life.
Till one dark day, or rather one loving day that turned very, very dark for Reeva – Oscar Pistorius shot her four times, on Valentine’s Day in 2013 at their Pretoria residence. His line of defense? He mistook her for an intruder. However, there were some messages from Reeva on Oscar’s phone in which she wrote that his anger scared her. Oscar was first found not guilty and sentenced to a reduced five-year sentence of culpable homicide, however in 2016, the sentence was appealed by the prosecution and he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to six years imprisonment.
13. Sid Vicious: The Punk Rocker Who Lived Up To His Stage Name, Or Did He?
Sid Vicious (John Simon Ritchie) was the bassist of the punk rock group Sex Pistols and like most musicians, he was hooked on drugs as well. Nancy Spungen was a sometime stripper, sometime prostitute and full-time groupie who followed band members around and soon entered into a relationship with Sid – and that was the beginning of the end of Sid and Nancy.
Frankly, Nancy was no angel – rather a troubled, schizophrenic drug addict prone to violent outbursts for which the press had dubbed her Nauseating Nancy. Young, restless and always high, Sid and Nancy were the couple from hell and one day , it all turned deadly. Sid woke up after a drug stupor to find Nancy dead under the bathroom sink – with a single stab wound to the abdomen. Sid confessed, recanted, said he didn’t do it but was finally arrested for her murder. Four months later he made bail and celebrated with a party – only he never lived to see the morning and OD’d on heroin. Many claimed theirs was a suicide pact while others believe that a drug dealer named Michael had murdered Nancy and stolen money while Sid was out cold. The truth died with Sid and Nancy though.
12. OJ Simpson: Did He Or Didn’t He?
The Trial of the Century: the OJ Simpson case was when he was accused of stabbing his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman to death, just outside her home. Frankly, OJ and Nicole had always had a high-strung relationship full of fights, violence, and assault – and even having two kids did not simmer down things. They got married, divorced, and were planning to reconcile when Nicole’s life ended. For reasons no one ever understood, OJ was acquitted of the murders but later found liable in the wrongful death of Goldman, and of battery against Nicole. OJ never could bounce back from what happened – multiple lawsuits took away most of his money and money-making rights, and then he was arrested for robbery and sentenced to prison, where he still remains. He may have escaped his murder charge, but life has been justifiably tough for him – and many believe that he did indeed do it.
11. Brynn Hartman: When Drugs Make You Kill Your Husband And Orphan The Kids
Phil Hartman was an Emmy Award-winning actor and screenwriter and an all-around funny guy from Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons. In 1987, Phil married aspiring actress Brynn Omdahl, and the couple went on to have two children and plenty of fights over Brynn’s non-launching career, Phil’s success, and Brynn’s alcohol and narcotics problems. Phil had been supportive but her multiple stints in rehab and relapses had forced him to give her an ultimatum – one more slip up and it was all over.
In 1998, Phil and Brynn again exchanged heated words over her drug usage. Brynn was enraged and, high on drugs and booze, shot a sleeping Phil at around three in the morning. She went to a friend’s house and confessed and they both drove back to check on Phil. The friend called 911 but by the time the police arrived, Brynn had locked herself in the bedroom and shot herself with the same gun – leaving both their kids orphaned in one drug-fueled rage.
10. Paul Snider: You’re Leaving? Let Me Kill You First
Paul Snider was a sleazy scumbag who somehow managed to make pretty girl Dorothy Stratten fall in love with him. He got nude pictures of the young woman and then sent them to Playboy. Dorothy became Playmate of the Month and they got married.
Frankly, this could have been an X-rated happily ever after story except that Dorothy Stratten’s newfound fame and movie role put her in touch with director Peter Bogdanovich, with whom she began an affair. She was named Playmate of The Year and had just finished shooting a movie with Ingrid Bergman (directed by Peter), They All Laughed. Estranged from Paul, she filed for divorce but that was the last straw. Paul armed himself with a 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun, raped her, killed her, and then sexually abused her corpse – after which he offed himself with the same shotgun. Dorothy was just 20.
9. Earl Hayes: From Music To Jealousy-Fueled Madness
Earl Hayes was a budding rapper and was married to beautiful, if cheating, spouse, dancer Stephanie Moseley, since 2008. The couple had a tumultuous on-and-off relationship, and Earl was particularly crushed by an affair that Stephanie had with singer Trey Songz some two years back. The couple had decided to reconcile recently but it was apparent that Earl was having a very tough time trying to forgive and forget Stephanie’s affair.
At the time of the alleged murder-suicide, Earl was Facetiming with boxer Floyd Mayweather and swearing about how he wanted to kill his wife. Reportedly Floyd begged him not to do anything violent but in a fit of rage, Earl went and shot his wife who was in the bathtub at the time. He then later spoke to Floyd again and then went on to kill himself with the same gun. At the time, Earl was facing a budding career and Stephanie was the star of the faux-reality VH1 series Hit The Floor. None of them could even reach the heights of stardom they wanted to, and their deaths only made them infamous…
8. Robert Blake: When All Is Not Bonnie & Well
Robert Blake, born Michael James Gubitosi, was an actor who first appeared in movies starting back in 1939 and he carried on all the way till 1997. Known for being a child actor and then a character actor, he was also the lead star in the TV series Baretta where he played Detective Anthony Vincenzo “Tony” Baretta. All his life though, Robert Blake was plagued with one problem after another and the moment he got success, he went on a violent binge or into depression. After divorcing his first wife, Robert entered into a relationship with Bonnie Lee Bakely who was known for exploiting older men and was also in a relationship with Marlon Brando’s son, Christian.
After Bonnie gave birth to a daughter that paternity tests proved was Blake’s, they married but Blake never entirely trusted her. In 2001, Blake took Bonnie out for a dinner and when she was sitting in the car, waiting for him, she was shot in the head. Robert was tried for her murder but extenuating circumstances got him a not guilty verdict from the jury. Later he was sued by Bonnie’s three other children (from other fathers) and held responsible for her death – and ordered to pay them $30 million, upon which he declared himself bankrupt…
7. Michael Jace: From Reel Life Cop To Real Life Convict
Michael Jace is an American actor and probably best known for his work as Los Angeles police officer Julien Lowe in the FX drama The Shield. He even played Michael Jordan for a TV movie, and also co-starred with Russell Crowe in State of Play. He and his wife April Jace had been married for almost eleven years and had two young sons together when one fateful day, May 19, 2014, Michael shot and killed his wife. He then called the police and reported the domestic disturbance, confessing to having shot her.
The police arrived to find April Jace, an American masters track and field athlete, dead of multiple gunshot wounds. Later it was speculated the Michael Jace, known to be a loving husband and a devoted father, was under considerable financial strain and had exchanged some words with April shortly before shooting her. He also believed that she was having an affair and wanted a divorce. He was sentenced to over 40 years in prison while their children went to stay with relatives. Apparently, just before he shot her in front of their kids, Michael taunted her, “You like to run so much. Why don’t you run to heaven?”
6. Russell Neal: A Has-Been Success Now In A Mental Facility
Once upon a time in the 90s, Russell Neal was part of the up and coming R&B group Hi-Five and was known to have quite a way with the ladies. Somewhere down the line, his head got too big for his shoes, and he left the band, and he slowly joined the ranks of the has-beens and the wannabes.
Even then, he was able to snag lively and vivacious 24-year-old Catherine Martinez who was a fitness trainer, an aspiring model, and was even training to be a female boxer. Wooed by his charm, his popularity (which had waned considerably by that time), and even his money – Catherine had two sons with him. Russell was flat broke and not as popular as he would like to believe so Catherine became the breadwinner for the family. And then she was also put through domestic abuse. Finally, Catherine had enough and planned to leave Russell. Suddenly, she disappears. A few days later Russell strolls into the Houston Police Station and tells them that his wife needs medical attention after a domestic fight they had.
Police storm the apartment where they find Catherine dead, and she had been dead for quite a few days, her body beaten and bashed in beyond recognition. Heartbreakingly, their two kids were also locked up in the same apartment. Until now, Russell Neal has not stood trial for his crime, claiming insanity as a defense plea. Maybe it runs in the family, for his younger brother Ronald Neal is also facing 80 years in prison for killing his wife, shooting her and letting her bleed out in front of the children as well.
5. Claudine Longet: When Anger & Jealousy Mix With Stupidity & Negligence
18-year-old Claudine Longet wanted to be famous ever so bad. And luck was with her when she was en route Las Vegas to become a showgirl and was detained by a flat tire. Someone stopped to help her and it was love at first sight – for Claudine was dazzled by the famous Andy Williams and probably saw him as her ticket to fame, while Andy fell in love with this 18-year-old beauty. And so came marriage, money, three kids and a nominally successful career too.
In the 1970s, the marriage between Claudine and Andy unraveled but by that time Claudine had enough friends in high places who in turn introduced her to champion skier, the filthy rich Vladimir “Spider” Sabich. The two hit it off and began a somewhat turbulent relationship that ended in a shocker in 1976. She called the police over to the house she shared with Sabich and her three kids, explaining that he was teaching her how to fire a gun when it went off – killing him. Though Spider was clearly shot in the back, police mistakes and an ineffectual court let her go scot free – which she celebrated with a holiday with her defense lawyer Ron Austin. There was such a public outcry that she maintained a low profile ever since, married Ron Austin, and was never really seen or heard from again…
4. Rae Carruth: Ordered A Hit & Helped The Hitman Kill His Pregnant Girlfriend
Once a popular football star, Rae became yet another in the list of has-beens when he injured his knee and began to wane as a football player, after his very first season. Sure he could have made a comeback, and definitely still had decent innings in football too, but the fact that he spent his time accumulating a harem of women took its toll. Love’em and leave’em was is motto – especially since he had a penchant for getting them pregnant. A girlfriend bore him a son whom he rarely visited, and then yet another girlfriend got his baby aborted – since Rae used to “joke” about killing them if they didn’t do so.
One day, he took the joke too far.
Cherica Adams was a “real estate agent,” actually a stripper in a gentleman’s club, who unfortunately fell in love with Rae and got pregnant with his baby. She wouldn’t abort it and didn’t find his “killing” joke funny so Rae proved himself right. He hired a hitman, Michael Kennedy, to shoot her while she was eight-months pregnant with his child, and then blocked her car long enough to ensure she was shot right. Cherica died but not after writing her witness statement blaming Rae, and giving birth to her little boy – who remained brain damaged due to a lack of oxygen. Rae ran and was arrested when the police found him hiding in the boot of his car – with candy bar wrappers and two bottles filled with his piss.
3. Gig Young: When Love & Life Go Astray
Mention Gig Young now and you’ll only get confusion, but four decades ago Gig Young was a swashbuckling actor known for his good looks and roles and even won an Academy Award in 1969-70. So obviously this was one man Hollywood and fans adored. But the 1970s were the start of the end for Gig Young, for this man, originally named Byron E. Barr, was heading down the very slippery slope of alcoholism. Roles were few and far between and all his marriages had crumbled to dust.
So Gig Young married Australian actress Kim Schmidt in 1978, and then ended the marriage just three weeks later, but took a rather violent way to end it instead. His alcoholism and his love for guns produced a deadly love child – murder-suicide. He shot his wife of barely three weeks in the head and then put another slug through the roof of his mouth and is buried in the Barr family plot – an ignominious end to one who had many accolades and fans.
2. Sahel Kazemi: Loving Me Is Good, Leaving Me Is Not
So the thing about affairs is that they often backfire, and sometimes with tragic results. Steve McNair, the NFL Quarterback the world so loved was mostly a nice guy, except that he loved to get into other women’s pants even while he was married to his wife Mechelle and had two sons with her. He had also fathered two other children via two other women and finally ending up having an affair with 20-year-old Sahel “Jenny” Kazemi.
Sahel was possibly not very secure about their relationship, and one day, when Steve had joined her in the condo he had rented for them after putting his kids to bed, Sahel shot him from three feet away while he slept. And then she lay down beside him and shot herself too. Sahel didn’t just kill Steve, she also orphaned his four children who will now never see their father again.
1. Spade Cooley: The “Gentleman” Who Killed His Wife In A Boozed Up Blaze Of Passion
So sure, not many of us know of Spade Cooley now but back in the day, and we mean the good ole’ days of the 40s and the 50s, Spade was one cool western swinging musician, fiddler, singer, and actor. He came on TV, did concerts and shows and even did a few movies, and while Bob Wills was the Western swing king, Cooley had his own fan following too – especially because he looked a little like his friend, Roy Rogers. By the 60s Cooley-mania had waned a bit so he did what any man in a midlife crisis does: married a pretty young thing in her 20s, Ella Mae Evans, and then had three kids with her too.
Cooley drank like a fish and finally, Ella had had enough so she asked for a divorce. Meanwhile, Cooley got to know that his wife had managed to sneak in an affair with Roy Rogers and that blew his top. In 1961, sloshed and high on drugs, Spade went to Ella’s house and proceeded to beat her to death, while she was naked in the shower, and in front of their 14-year-old daughter – after which he put out a cigarette on her breast to see if she was dead. He was arrested and jailed, and released three months early in 1969 to perform at a special concert for the police, where he got a standing ovation and then went backstage, only to keel over and die. Fittingly ironic, as many would say.