15 Huge Stars Who Lost Family To Brutal Murderers

The rich and famous live a lifestyle that others can only admire and envy; they are the select few on this earth who just appear to have it all. It's hard to imagine that behind the glittering career, luxury lifestyle, worldwide recognition and opportunity, these stars have been through moments of unimaginable horror in their lives.

The following fifteen stars have all lost people close to them; and the lives of their loved ones were taken through gruesome murders.

Many of these horrific cases took place during these stars' younger years, but had a profound impact on their lives and, in some cases, their careers. These terrible real-life stories read more like a script these stars would be working on than an event that took place so close to home. Each incident is different and disturbing in its own way; some of these killers were motivated by money, lust or pure jealous rage. Whatever led to these senseless acts of violence, the fact remains that behind the smiles and energetic performances these stars give us, there's deep pain that will never be forgotten.


15 Kelsey Grammer

Kelsey Grammer is best known for his role as Dr Frasier Crane in the hit comedy Frasier; it was probably a role in entertainment that got him through the painful memories that have been with him since he was a teenager.

At just 2-years-old, Grammer's parents divorced. He went on to live with his mother and grandfather. At 13-years-old, his father was shot down dead in the street by a man named Arthur B. Niles who pled guilty by insanity.

At 20-years-old his younger sister, Karen, was abducted outside a restaurant in Colorado Springs by an armed gang who feared that she would identify them for a robbery that had just taken place. His sister was repeatedly assaulted for several hours by the gang at a trailer park, and then stabbed in the neck by a man named Freddie Lee Glenn. Grammer had to identify his own sister's body when she was later found dead.

Glenn had been convicted in 1975 for the murder of three people, and was due for parole last year. In an emotional move that doubtless took a lot of inner strength, Grammer spoke to his sister's killer via satellite and said he had forgiven him for his crimes. Grammer told Glenn during the hearing: "I accept that you live with remorse, but I live with tragedy every day. I accept your apology. I forgive you. However, I cannot give your release my endorsement".

14 Roman Polanski 


Acclaimed movie director Roman Polanski married actress Sharon Tate in 1968. At just 26-years-old and eight months pregnant, Tate was discovered at her Los Angeles home with multiple stab wounds. She died alongside four friends; the group had been tied together and attacked by members of the Charles Manson 'family'. Her housekeeper discovered the horrific murder scene the next day; some of the other bodies had been mutilated and the word "pig" had been scrawled in blood on the walls. All the electricity lines and main phone line had been cut. Polanski had been delayed in London at the time of his wife's death.

The home close to Beverly Hills was rented by Polanski and Tate; they planned for it to be the home where they would raise their first child together.

It wasn't until November 1969 that the killers were named. Manson member Susan Atkins was in prison for car theft; after boasting to a fellow inmate that she killed Sharon Tate, she was indicted for the murder. She was offered immunity from death row if she provided more information about the murder. Accepting the offer, Atkins named her accomplices as Charles Manson, Charles Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Los Feliz. She also confessed that the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, which were committed the night after Tate's murder, had been another hideous act of the 'family'.

13 Chuck Palahniuk

The author of Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk, has lived through many dark and sinister moments which could well be the inspiration behind most of his work. Palahniuk grew up in Oregon, where he was surrounded by urban myths about his own family; his grandfather Nick Palahniuk loaded a gun and went on a killing spree - he shot his own wife. Fred Palahniuk, Chuck's father, managed to escape by hiding under a bed until his own father turned the gun on himself and ended his life.

Years after the event, Chuck was born but his parents divorced when he was 14-years-old. In 1999, Chuck's father Fred Palahniuk had started a new relationship, but his girlfriend's ex-husband became jealous and shot the couple. He then dragged both the bodies to a cabin and set it on fire. The death was the inspiration behind Chuck's next novel, Lullaby; the story is about a child's song which has the ability to kill, and is said to be his most personal work to date.

The murderer, Dale Shackelford, was charged with both murders in 2000. He had been sentenced to death, but the decision was overturned and he was handed a life sentence behind bars instead. Palahniuk has said in interviews that he wished Shackelford had been granted the death penalty and that now time has passed he doesn't feel strong emotions about the murders. He told the Independent: "It feels ... surprisingly nothing. It doesn't have an effect. All those feelings are exhausted in me. As long as I know I will never have to meet him".

12 Michael Jordan

James R. Jordan Sr was a huge basketball ball fan, and his son Michael Jordan would become one of the biggest names in the sport. When Jordan Jr was just 2 years old, his father moved their family out of Brooklyn, as the ever-growing drug and gang cultures were taking over.

He wanted his son to aspire to be an athlete, and the family moved to North Carolina where Jordan Jr's basketball career began at the University of North Carolina.

In 1993, eight days before his 57th birthday, Jordan Sr pulled over on the shoulder of State Road 74 to rest his eyes on a long journey. Two men, Daniel Andre Green and Larry Martin Demery, pulled up to the vehicle and shot Jordan Sr whilst he was sleeping. They stole the vehicle. His body wasn't found until a month later; it had been dumped in a swamp.

Green and Demery had taken belongings in the vehicle too; which included two NBA championship rings that were given to Jordan Sr by his son. They were immediately arrested after they used the stolen cell phone to make a call; upon their arrest, they said their intention had been to just tie up Jordan Sr and the trigger had been pulled by accident. They were both sentenced to life in prison.

11 Ice Cube

Before Ice Cube was creating tracks about gun crime; he sadly lost his half-sister, Beverley Jean Brown, in a fatal shooting when he was just 12-years-old. Brown was murdered by her own husband just two blocks from where Ice Cube lived in South Central Los Angeles; she was only 22-years-old. He told The Huffington Post in 2013 that the event still plays on his mind: "I think about my sister a lot. I think about the turn of events that triggered that situation".

Considered as one of the biggest names in rap music and one of the founding members of the N.W.A; Ice Cube is now a family man with a wife and four children of his own. He voiced his opinions on gun crime in the same interview, saying, "America is built on the gun. America is in love with the gun. It's a sick love affair. But it's just hard to break".

The Straight Outta Compton rapper is an acclaimed actor, film producer, record producer, director, screenwriter and hip hop artist and in 2013 his estimated net worth was at $120 million. In 2016 he will be starring in Barbershop 3 alongside fellow rap star Nicki Minaj.

10 James Ellroy

James Ellroy was born in California and is the well-known author of The Black Dhalia and L.A.Confidential. The Black Dahlia would never have existed had it have not been inspired by the tragic death of his own mother; Geneva 'Jean' Ellroy who is known as Elizabeth Short in the book. It was considered the novel that projected his literary career and placed his name on the world stage.

In 1958, Ellroy's mother was murdered when she was strangled by her own stockings and a cotton cord around her neck. The case still to this day remains unsolved; it was this crime and also the book The Badge by Jack Webb, which was given to him as a gift, that inspired his new life as a crime and thriller writer.

Ellroy used the opportunity to write The Black Dahlia as a way of expressing his emotions, he was only 10-years-old at the time of her murder, but the intense period of creating the story led to him sinking deep into depression which took several years to recover from.

9 Dylan McDermott

Dylan McDermott was born in Connecticut where he lived with his parents; his mother, Diane McDermott, gave birth to him when she just 15-years-old and his father, Richard McDermott, was just 17-years-old in 1967. They were married but soon divorced and in February 1967, Dylan's mother Diane was found dead.

Her death was originally ruled an accident; her boyfriend at the time, John Sponza, had told the police she had shot herself whilst cleaning a gun. The police later found enough evidence to bring charges against Sponza. But in 1972, before his arrest, he was found dead in the trunk of a car in a grocery store parking lot. Police believed he was linked to organised crime and that he was responsible for the shooting of Diane McDermott.

Dylan McDermott is well-known for his dark roles in the American Horror Story series: Murder House and Asylum.


8 Patrick Duffy

During shooting the TV series Dallas (1978 - 1991) one of its main stars Patrick Duffy shocked the world with news that his parents were gunned down during an armed robbery by two men as they were working at the bar they ran in Montana, 1986. The actor was 37-years-old at the time and in 2007 one of the gunmen was released on parole despite them both being served 75 year sentences by the courts.

Duffy told the British press in 2012 that he had completely forgiven both of the gunmen, he said of their parole: "My point of view is that he’s already been punished. You know, whether he’s in prison or out of prison. I was stunned that my reaction included compassion for them (the robbers). I am not a cold and uncaring person. So why am I not emotionally devastated by this? I realize that by now, in all probability, even if they had not been killed, they would be dead. All parents die".

He credits Buddhism for taking him on a new spiritual path of forgiveness and enlightenment.

7 Charice Pempengco

Filipina singer Charice Pempengco was once dubbed by Oprah Winfrey herself as "the most talented girl in the world" and she officially joined the cast of Glee in 2010. She had the world at her feet and at just 17-years-old everything was set for her to become a huge star.

In 2011, Charice was due to perform at a concert in Singapore until she received the earth-shattering news that her estranged father, Ricky Pempengco, had been stabbed to death at her hometown in the Philippines. His death was a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; at a small grocery store in San Pedro, Laguna he brushed up against a drunk who got very angry and stabbed him several times in the chest and the back with an ice pick.

Charice broke the news to her fans via Twitter and thanked them for all their support. She tweeted: "I want to thank my fans from around the world for their support and love at this very difficult time for my family and I. We are all very sad about this terrible tragedy". Although she was estranged from her father, raised entirely by her mother, she also tweeted:  "I loved him and I will still love him. He's still my Dad after all".

6 Dave Navarro

When he was just 15-years-old Dave Navarro's mother, Connie Navarro, was murdered along with his aunt at a condominium in West Los Angeles. The police discovered her body stuffed inside a linen closet at the home; Dave Navarro had been spending the night at his father's house at the time of the murder.

Connie Navarro's murderer was her estranged boyfriend, John Riccardi, who spent the following eight years on the run. After the TV show America's Most Wanted did a special on him he was found and arrested in Houston, in 1991. The court heard how Riccardi had carried out two counts of murder after he forced his way into the house. He was originally sentenced to death, but the charges were overturned and he was given life imprisonment.

Dave Navarro was a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and a founding member of Jane's Addiction. He was married to Carmen Electra for three years before they divorced in 2006. He blamed his heroin addiction (from which he has now recovered) on the painful memories of his mother's death and believes if he wasn't at his father's place that night then he would have been killed too.

5 John F. Kennedy Jr.  


John F.Kennedy Jr had a hard life. He was under constant media scrutiny as the only surviving son of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. And his father was assassinated just days before his third birthday.

The former US president was infamously assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. That afternoon, sniper Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested and charged the same day; he was due to be formally prosecuted but he was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby; both shootings were captured live on television. Oswald was charged after his death with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; a known truant as a teenager he was sent to a juvenile reformatory and was analysed by a psychologist known as Dr. Renatus Hartogs. Hartogs report described Oswald as someone who had a "personality pattern disturbance with schizoid features and passive-aggressive tendencies".

His father's death has been consistently surrounded by conspiracy theories. He died aged just 38-years-old in a plane crash beside his wife Carolyn Bessette and his sister-in-law. The family were on their way to a wedding on Martha's Vineyard.

4 Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron was born in the Transvaal Province of South Africa; her parents, Charles and Gerda, were co-owners of a road construction company. Although she was introduced to a rural life as a small child, tending to the farm they all lived on, her passion for performing could not be denied and she was sent to a boarding school to study dance.

Charlize enjoyed being away from home, as it wasn't a very happy place to be. Her father struggled with alcoholism and became incredibly violent when he was drunk. He would often fly into fits of violent rages and attack both Charlize and her mother. One day he threatened to kill them both, so Charlize's mother took a shotgun and murdered him in self-defence. She has said, of her memories of the day; "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."

The police, upon hearing the levels of abuse, did not press charges. After her father's death, her mother went on to take full ownership of the construction company and Charlize would tell people that her father had died in a fatal car crash.

3 Sean Lennon

Musician and composer, Sean Lennon, was just 5-years-old when his father, John Lennon, was shot four times in the back. The murder happened in the entrance of his New York apartment, when John was returning home with his wife and Sean's mother, Yoko Ono. He was rushed to the Roosevelt Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. His killer was Mark David Chapman; earlier that evening he had his autograph to the mentally-unstable fan.

Chapman was arrested at the scene of the crime and he was found reading a copy of J.D Salinger's Catcher In The Rye. He had idolised Lennon, but was an avid Christian and was apparently angered at the comments his hero had made that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus". In court, Chapman told the court it was "god's will" to kill Lennon and he had planned the moment for three months prior. His lawyers wanted him to plead insanity, but Chapman refused.

Chapman pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment; he has applied for parole eight times but has been denied each time. 

2 Sean 'P.Diddy' Combs

Sean 'Diddy' Combs was born in a housing project in Harlem, New York City during the late 1960s. He grew up in Mount Vernon, New York. His father, Melvin Combs, was a close associate of New York drug dealer Frank Lucas. During the 1960s and early 1970s Lucas was well known for making millions of dollars operating as the biggest heroin dealer in Harlem, cutting out the middlemen and sourcing directly from Southeast Asia. He used the coffins of dead soldiers to transport the drugs over to the US.

At 33-years-old, when Diddy was just 3-years-old, his father was found dead at the wheel of his car in Central Park West - he had been shot to death. In 2013 Diddy released an emotional video called Confessions where he talked in depth about how he barely knew his own father who had still managed to shape his life. Now a father of six children himself, he said:

"They say you can't miss something you never had, but that's only a little ways right. There's definitely been times as I've gotten older that I've missed my father - his presence - not being here... There's things that you would ask your father. There's also things that you would celebrate with him that would make him proud".

1 Jennifer Hudson

In 2008, actress Jennifer Hudson went through a living nightmare that many would find unimaginable. Three members of her family - her mother, brother and seven-year-old nephew - were shot to death by her former brother-in-law William Balfour. In 2012, he was found him guilty on three counts of first degree murder.

Hudson was a witness throughout the trial and she also attended every day of the testimony. The motive behind Balfour's brutal killings was that he was outraged his estranged wife, Julia Hudson, would not reconcile with him. In a joint statement from both of the Hudson sisters they said: "It is our prayer that the Lord will forgive Mr Balfour of these heinous acts and bring his heart into repentance someday".

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012, Jennifer Hudson showed incredible strength by telling the world that she had forgiven Balfour. She said:

"I feel like for the most part it's not his fault. It's how he was brought up. We tried to offer love, but you were so far gone, that you couldn't even see that. A lot of things came out, that we didn't even know about, from his upbringing, which is like he never had a chance. Had you had the love my mother gave us, or the background that some have, then you would've stood a chance".



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