It is strange to think that the celebrities that we watch on the big screen, in our homes on TV, or even the authors of our favorite books have a past. It is easy to see these types of people as only existing on the silver screen or in our imaginations, but believe it or not, most celebrities had full lives before they were famous. Unfortunately, not all of their pasts are filled with rainbows and butterflies. Some stars have dark pasts and have been linked to violent crimes in the most unlikely of fashions. This is true of nearly all of the celebrities below. Most of the stars listed below were somehow linked to a grisly crime. However, their unlikely link to said crime did not come out until well into their famous years. The other celebrities listed below were linked to a crime while they were enjoying their fame and riches. These are the instances where an unusual event caused the stars below, to be caught up in a brutal crime. So to provide shock and awe, below is a list of 10 celebrities with surprising connections to grisly murders. All of these stories connect celebrities to crimes in the most unlikely of circumstances.
10 Woody Harrelson
To say that Woody Harrelson comes from an unusual background would be a vast understatement. It turns out Harrelson’s father, Charles Harrelson was a contract killer. Charles, who separated from Harrelson’s mother when he was seven, was first tried for murder in 1970. Although Charles was eventually acquitted, he was convicted three years later for the murder of Sam Degelia Jr. and sentenced to 15 years in prison. After Charles got out on parole, he went back to his old ways and performed a professional hit on US district judge John H. Wood Jr. Charles would spend the rest of his life in jail for the judge’s murder. To top it all of, Charles claimed that he participated in the murder of President Kennedy. However, no evidence has been found to support his claim.
9 Dylan McDermott
Dylan McDermott was five years old when his mother, Diane, died from a gunshot wound to the head. At the time, Diane’s death was ruled to be accidental. However, McDermott always suspected that it was his mother’s boyfriend, John Sponza (a known gangster and heroin addict) was the one who murdered her. In 2011, McDermott contacted police to ask that his mother’s case be re-opened. Although Sponza was already dead at this point, investigators were able to determine that Sponza killed Diane by questioning protected informants and reviewing press clippings. They also found that the police had covered up Sponza’s involvement in the violent crime and ruled it accidental. Forty-five years after Diane’s violent murder, the case was finally solved.
8 Henry Rollins
Even after finding success as a musician, Henry Rollins remained extremely close to his long-time best friend Joe Cole, so much so that the pair shared a home together. On December 19, 1991, Rollins and Cole were headed home when two men appeared with guns pointed at them demanding that they give up their money. When the assailants discovered that Cole and Rollins only had a combined total of $50, they ordered them into the house. Just as Rollins was walking through the front door, he heard a gun shot and saw that his friend had been shot in the face. After, Rollins ran through the backdoor to call the police. By the time help arrived, Cole was dead and the two men were gone. Although Rollins was able to give a description of his attackers to the police, the men who committed the violent crime were never found.
7 Charlize Theron
In 1991, Charlize Theron was the witness to a brutal crime when her mother, Gerda Maritz, killed her abusive father, Charles in self-defense. Theron was just a teenager when her father came home drunk one night with a gun. Theron told police that she heard her father swearing in the next room and shouting at her mother. Her statement reads, “My father said he would kill us with his shotgun. My mom said she was afraid that he really would kill us. The next moment I heard a number of shots being fired. I don’t know how many, and then I heard my mom screaming hysterically.” Gerda was never charged for shooting her abusive husband, as police said she did it in self-defense.
6 Michael Jordan
In 1993, Michael Jordan’s father James, was shot and killed inside his Lexus by two men. One of the men was Daniel Green. Apparently, James had pulled over to the side of a North Carolina highway to take a nap when two men ran up to his car. The plan was to steal the Lexus. However, Green allegedly pulled the trigger on James and killed him. Even though Green has been in prison for 20 years for the murder of James, Green could be granted a new trial to prove his innocence. Green has always claimed that he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger and it recently came out that the lab mishandled his case. Green’s partner in James’ murder is up for parole in 2016.
5 Steve McQueen and Jerzy Kosinski
Steve McQueen and Polish novelist, Jerzy Kosinski were both invited to the Los Angeles home of actress Sharon Tate when the infamous Manson murders took place in 1969. However, as a result of a twist of fate, neither man made it to the house on that horrific night. Kosinki was on his way to the house from Paris when his bags were sent to New York by mistake, forcing him to get off the plane to retrieve his bags. As a result, the novelist missed his flight to L.A. McQueen was on his way to the party at Tate’s house when he met up with a young lady and had a one night stand with her instead of going to the party. Both McQueen and Kosinski narrowly escaped almost certain death.
4 Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg was just 16 years old when he was charged with attempted murder. The actor was a bit of a juvenile delinquent. He joined a gang at the age of 14 and got in trouble with the law quite a bit for dealing drugs and other offenses. Then when he was 16, Wahlberg attacked two Vietnamese men. He hit one with a stick and punched the second, permanently blinding him. At first, Wahlberg was charged with attempted murder, this sentence was reduced to criminal contempt. After Wahlberg pled guilty to the crime, he received two years at the Deer Island House of Correction in Boston. Although he only ended up serving 45 days of his sentence, he said that his time behind bars inspired him to turn his life around.
3 Kelsey Grammar
On July 1, 1975, Kelsey Grammar’s sister, Karen Grammar was kidnapped at Red Lobster by a man named Freddie Lee Glenn, and two of his accomplices. Glenn had already gone on a killing spree. He had already killed two people, making Karen his third victim. Glenn took Karen back to the apartment of one of his accomplices where she was gang-r*ped. After they told Karen that she was free to go, Glenn, who was high on LSD, slashed her throat and killed her. Karen’s body was identified by her brother, Kelsey. Glenn was sentenced to life in prison for his brutal crimes.
2 Matthew McConaughey
On August 24, 1978, Edward Harold Bell parked his truck, climbed out of his vehicle nude from the waist down, and walked over to a group of children. As Bell was walking over to the group, a man named Larry Dickens confronted Bell. Bell proceeded to pull out a gun and shoot Dickens five times. Bell tried to escape but he was immediately caught by police and charged with the murder of Larry Dickens. When he was released on bail he disappeared and wasn’t seen again for 14 years. Then in 1992, a segment about Larry Dickens’ murder aired on the show Unsolved Murders. The actor who was hired to play Dickens was none other than Matthew McConaughey, in his first on-screen role. After the segment aired, two viewers called the tip line to say that they had seen Bell. Bell was eventually captured and sentenced to 70 years in prison for Dickens’ murder.
1 Anne Perry
Anne Perry is a successful crime novelist who has sold over 26 million copies of her novels. But Anne Perry has a very dark past. When Perry was just 16 years old (and going by a different name), she and a friend bludgeoned her mother to death after Perry’s friend Juliet, learned that she was going to be sent off to Africa. The two girls killed Perry’s mother because they were afraid that she wasn’t going to let Perry go with her best friend. The girls were charged with murder and sentenced to five years in prison for their crimes. After they were released they were given new identities and basically fell off the face of the earth. However in 1996, it was revealed that the young 16-year-old girl who’d killed her mother was actually successful crime novelist, Anne Perry. Despite this revelation, Perry continues to do extremely well as a crime novelist.