Celebrities | Pop Culture | 90s

The True Story Of The Murder That Shook A Generation Of Pop Fans

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Pop Sugar

Just as her star was on the rise, the singer known simply as Selena was tragically murdered and fans are still mourning the loss of the young star two decades later.

On March 31, 1995 the life of the promising young pop star ended. The Texas-born beauty Selena Quintanilla captured people's hearts with her style, sex appeal and instantly recognizable voice.

The queen of Tejano music, a fusion of polka, country and jazz, was popular across northern Mexico and throughout the southern United States. She never had the chance to expand her stardom to other areas of the world, because she was gunned down in cold blood at the age of only 23.

But what actually happened?

The start of a fan club

Yolanda Saldivar, a fellow Latina and keen Tejano music fan became obsessed with the young singer after seeing her perform live. She had reportedly turned her apartment into a "shrine" devoted to Selena and got closer to the singer after speaking to her parents asking to start a fan club.

Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla agreed and named Saldivar the president of the club, but would later increase her involvement in Selena's career.

She would later get a managerial position in Selena's chain of boutique stores, Selena Etc. While the woman was popular with her family, things began to sour after money started to go missing.

After receiving complaints from fan club members, customers and staff of the two store locations, Abraham tallied the books and discovered that $30,000 was unaccounted for.

"My daughter Selena was killed this morning by a disgruntled employee," her distraught father told reporters. "There were discrepancies with the fan club, and they resulted in the shooting of Selena."

She set a trap

Saldivar denied any wrongdoing when she was interviewed about stealing from the family. According to the New York Times, she had put a $100 deposit down on a handgun just two days after being confronted about the missing money.

Selena agreed to meet Saldivar in person at the Days Inn motel in the singer's hometown of Corpus Christi so that she could explain herself face to face. However, when she learned that the singer had intended to fire her at their meeting, she pulled the gun from her purse.

Shot in the back as she fled the room, Selena ran away from the assailant. The bullet had penetrated just below the right shoulder blade and severed a vital artery, but still she carried on running. She made it to the hotel lobby to be able to name the culprit before collapsing in front of the desk.

Shawna Vela was the Days Inn receptionist and described the trail of blood hundreds of feet long behind the songstress.

"She shot me. She's in room 158. Lock the door or she'll shoot me again," Selena screamed at the receptionist. The last words the singer uttered before losing consciousness was "Yolanda."

Police standoff

If saying her name wasn't enough, Selena had collapsed holding a diamond ring that was a gift to her from Saldivar.

Authorities later deduced that Selena had been in the process of giving the ring back, when the disgruntled employee opened fire on her.

After the shooting, Saldivar tried to escape to her car, but was boxed into the parking lot by police. The suspect then turned her weapon on herself and threatened to commit suicide. This resulted in a standoff with police that lasted almost 10 hours.

The shooter sat at the wheel of a red pickup truck she had borrowed from her nephew with her gun to his temple as officers tried to talk her into surrendering. When they finally convinced her to put the gun down and step out of the car, a huge crowd had accumulated across the street after hearing about the singer's untimely death.

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