Details Behind Selena's Murder

The shocking murder of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez on March 31, 1995, stunned audiences all around the world. As one of the best Tejano artists of all time, Selena was standing at the precipice of a great career right before her death. Born in 1971, the Mexican-American showed an affinity for all kinds of music at a young age. Unfortunately, her family's restaurant went out of business in 1981, and the struggling Quintanillas decided to hit the road as a band called Selena y Los Dinos. Thus, Selena began performing at the tender age of nine.

By eighth grade, Selena's father pulled her out of school so she could devote all of her time to her growing musical career. This may have been a questionable strategy, but it did lead to success. Selena won two Tejano Music Awards in 1987, which opened the door for six hit albums. By 1994, Selena received her first Grammy nomination, sold approximately 500,000 copies of her Amor Prohibido (Forbidden Love) album, and was well-poised to finish transitioning into mainstream success.

However, the very next year, 1995, her friend and fan club manager, Yolanda Saldívar, turned her into a huge news story for all the wrong reasons. Selena was only 23 when Saldívar fatally shot her. Sadly, Selena became one of the greatest musicians who died before 30. The shockwave of Selena's murder quickly reverberated through the Mexican-American and Latino communities, and the singer's music became more popular than ever. Saldívar was ultimately convicted and sentenced to prison for life. To find out more about Selena's unfortunate death, read on below. 

  • Selena Identified Her Killer While Asking Motel Staff For Help

    Selena Identified Her Killer While Asking Motel Staff For Help
    Photo: Pam Francis/The LIFE Images Collection / Getty Images

    Saldívar pursued Selena through the hotel and allegedly called her a "b*tch." Selena made it to the lobby, where she begged the staff to keep Saldívar away, saying, "Lock the door! She'll shoot me again!" The few bystanders were shocked as they watched the bleeding woman collaspe.

    Selena stayed conscious long enough to tell motel staff, "Yolanda... 158." She identified her killer and her room number before passing out. She would never regain consciousness. 

  • Selena Was Shot By Her Friend And Fan Club Manager, Yolanda Saldívar

    In March of 1995, Selena had a falling out with her friend and fan club manager, Yolanda Saldívar. Saldívar, who had also been entrusted with managing Selena's fashion and jewelry stores, Selena Etc., had been embezzling money from both the fan club and the stores. The two agreed to meet at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas, because Selena needed tax documents from Saldívar regarding the businesses.

    Motel staff confirmed that the two women were arguing loudly, and some witnesses stated Selena told Saldívar she was no longer trustworthy. This may have been what pushed Saldívar over the edge as she responded by shooting the singer.

    Selena ran from the room, calling for help. The blood trail from the scene of the shooting to where Selena collapsed was 392 feet long. Witnesses told police Selena was screaming as she ran from her killer. "Help me! Help me! I've been shot!" A later medical examination would reveal that the bullet severed an artery in Selena's lower right shoulder. This led to Selena bleeding out and going into cardiac arrest within two hours. 

  • An Ambulance Came Within Two Minutes

    An ambulance arrived at the scene in two minutes. Richard Fredrickson, a paramedic, rushed to Selena's aid and testified, "The girl was covered with blood. Blood was thick from her neck to her knees, all the way around both sides." He realized it was already too late to save the girl's life because she had lost too much blood. 

  • Medical Staff Were Able To Get An Erratic Heartbeat At The Hospital, But It Wasn't Enough

    At noon, Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital emergency room staff helped Selena recover an erratic heartbeat, and they started giving her blood transfusions. Her father protested this step of the medical process due to Selena's religious beliefs. Doctors spent more than an hour trying to repair the damage that one bullet caused, but they were unsuccessful and pronounced her dead at 1:05 p.m. 

  • An Autopsy Was Conducted A Mere Three Hours After Selena Was Shot

    An Autopsy Was Conducted A Mere Three Hours After Selena Was Shot
    Photo: Barbara Laing/The LIFE Images Collection / Getty Images

    Pressure on medical examiners was immense in the immediate aftermath of Selena's death. Due to her popularity and the public outcry, an autopsy began within three hours of the shooting. The bullet severed her right subclavian artery, which caused unrepairable damage. In a cruel twist of fate, doctors announced that only one millimeter in any other direction would have produced much less damage and blood loss. 

  • Her Murderer Embezzled $60K From Her Fan Club And Her Selena Etc. Stores

    Yolanda Saldívar was a registered nurse who grew to love Selena's music so much, she asked for permission to start a fan club. This led to Saldívar developing a friendship and business relationship with Selena. From 1991 to January 1995, Selena's family believed Saldívar to be a trusted member of their inner circle. Some time in 1994, Selena also entrusted Saldívar with managing the only two boutiques of Selena Etc., which featured "Selena’s signature line of fashions and jewelry."

    Everything began to fall apart when it became clear that someone embezzled $60,000 via the fan club and Selena Etc. Saldívar's handwriting on forged checks immediately revealed her culpability.