The Story of “Undisputed Queen of Tejano Music” Selena Quintanilla’s Murder

Twenty-six years following her demise at the tender age of 23, the legacy of Tejano icon Selena Quintanilla continues to resonate in terms of cultural significance. It’s not just her remarkable music that endures, through tribute concerts and albums. Her exceptional sense of style is also celebrated through limited-edition merchandise, with her iconic image adorning everything from t-shirts to cosmetics.

Who is Selena Quintanilla-Pérez?

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, born on April 16, 1971, was a renowned American songwriter, vocalist, entrepreneur, spokesperson, actress, fashion designer, and model. Recognized as the “Monarch of Tejano music,” Selena’s impact on the music and fashion industries cemented her status as one of the most prominent Mexican-American artists of the late 20th century. She was tragically murdered at the age of 23 in March 1995.

The Tale of “Unquestioned Monarch of Tejano Music” Selena Quintanilla's Assassination

How Did Selena Quintanilla-Pérez Perish?

In Franklin, Tennessee, she was in the process of recording “I Could Fall In Love” with renowned music producer and songwriter Keith Thomas. In addition to her music, Selena was striving to expand Selena Etc, a boutique brand she had launched the previous year, with stores in her hometown of Corpus Christi and San Antonio, Texas.

At the onset of March 1995, Selena and her family encountered financial issues with her fashion brand and fan club. They accused Saldívar (who had risen in ranks to manage the boutiques after her impressive work with the club) of failing to deliver merchandise that fans had purchased and embezzling $30,000, as reported by the Associated Press at the time. Selena had made attempts to retrieve these records on several occasions. On one such occasion at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Saldívar shot Selena in the back with a .38-caliber revolver. The bullet severed an artery in her collarbone before nestling in her chest, causing critical damage to her brain function.

Several motel staff members later confirmed that Selena fled towards the motel’s hallway after being shot and was pursued by Saldívar. Before collapsing, she disclosed Saldívar’s name and room number before being rushed to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, as reported by the Associated Press. Saldívar’s claim that she unintentionally shot Selena conflicted with this statement. Saldívar was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Despite years of maintaining her innocence and filing numerous unsuccessful appeals, she remains incarcerated.

News of Selena’s untimely demise was so devastating that many initially struggled to grasp it. Maria Aguirre, who worked as a receptionist for Tejano radio station KQQK at the time of the singer’s death, informed The New York Times that calls from distraught fans flooded in as soon as reports of the shooting surfaced, many of whom sought to verify the news of her passing. “They cannot believe that it happened. It’s almost like the feeling when John Lennon died. She was the queen of Tejano,” she expressed.

Who is Yolanda Saldívar?

By 1991, Saldívar had become Selena’s most ardent supporter, ultimately resigning from her nursing position to oversee the Selena Fan Club full-time. Subsequently, she was promoted to manage Selena’s two Texas boutiques in 1994, solidifying her role in Selena’s life. According to an interview Saldívar gave to 20/20, Selena even referred to her as “mom.”

However, their relationship had a hidden facet. According to individuals who knew her, Saldívar was possessive and fixated on Selena. Martin Gomez, a fashion designer for Selena’s boutiques, shared an office with Saldívar but eventually resigned due to her erratic behavior. Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father, amassed evidence indicating that Saldívar had embezzled from the boutiques and fan clubs. The Quintanilla family confronted Saldívar about her actions on March 9.

Following this confrontation, Saldívar procured a firearm. On March 31, Saldívar and Selena met to discuss missing financial records at the Days Inn. While in Saldívar’s room, Selena fell in the lobby, where, before losing consciousness, she managed to identify her assailant. When law enforcement arrived, they found Saldívar locked in her pick-up truck with the gun pointed at her temple, uttering, “I can’t believe I killed my best friend.” She eluded police for nearly ten hours before being apprehended, while Selena was rushed to Memorial Medical Center, where she was declared clinically brain-dead upon arrival. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate her, Selena was pronounced dead.

To this day, Saldívar maintains that shooting Selena was accidental. She stated to police investigators, “She told me: ‘Yolanda, I don’t want you to kill yourself.’ She opened the door. When I told her to close it, the gun went off,” retelling the incident during her interview with 20/20 News. Saldívar pleaded not guilty during her trial in October 1995, but the jury ultimately convicted her of first-degree murder after deliberation. Today, she is serving a life sentence at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, TX, with the possibility of parole in 2025.

The Family of Selena:

Selena’s father, Abraham; her mother, Marcela; her siblings, Abraham III and Suzette; and her husband, Chris Pérez, are all still healthy and alive. After twenty-six years, the Quintanilla family continues to uphold Selena’s legacy, with Suzette Quintanilla overseeing Q Productions, the entertainment company and studio where Selena recorded music. Pérez released a memoir in 2012 titled To Selena, With Love, and the family established The Selena Foundation, supporting children in need and organizing events such as Fiesta de la Flor. Suzette Quintanilla and Abraham Quintanilla Jr. are listed as executive producers on Selena: The Series, with Netflix noting their active involvement in the show.

Abraham Quintanilla Jr. remarked in March 2020, “When Selena passed away, I told my family that I was going to try to keep her memory alive through her music. Twenty-five years later, I think we, as a family, accomplished that.”

Selena Quintanilla’s Husband Chris Perez Shares Memories with His Wife

Twenty-six years after her passing, Selena Quintanilla continues to live on in the hearts of her devoted fans, including her husband, Chris Perez. Chris witnessed Selena’s journey from a local Texas singer-songwriter to a Grammy winner on the brink of crossover success. In Netflix’s biographical series Selena: The Series, viewers will gain insight into their relationship.

In 1989, Chris joined the band Selena y Los Dinos as the new guitarist. Initially met with skepticism due to his hard rock persona, he swiftly became an integral part of the team. Reflecting on his first impression of Selena, Chris described her as “beautiful and talented,” further stating, “I’m a shy person by nature, and there was just something about her that she was able to pull me out.”

Though they attempted to maintain a professional relationship, their feelings for each other surfaced. In 1990, they began a clandestine romance, as Selena was wary of her father’s insistence on her focusing solely on her career and family. However, when her father learned of their relationship, he disapproved and ultimately ejected Chris from the band, reportedly branding him as a “cancer” to the family.

Selena and Chris eloped on April 2, 1992. Despite their picture-perfect image, Chris has candidly shared the challenges of their relationship and contemplated divorce. However, they reconciled and sought to solidify their bond. Tragically, before they could expand their family, Selena’s life was cut short on March 31, 1995, leaving Chris to reminisce about their love and celebrate Selena’s memory annually.

In 2001, Chris remarried and had children. However, he remains committed to honoring Selena’s legacy and achievements, expressing his pride in her and the impact she continues to have.

Netflix Unveils Show in Memory of Selena

In December 2020, Netflix premiered the initial six episodes of a two-part series chronicling Selena’s career. Selena: The Series provides insight into her family band, Selena y Los Dinos, detailing their pivotal role in her success. Through this series and various other creative projects, Selena’s influence persists, inspiring a new generation with her groundbreaking achievements.

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