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There's a million and one stories about what led to the death of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla. But the truth is a story of mistrust, and tragedy.

Dark side of fandom: The haunting murder of Selena Quintanilla

We all know the tragic story of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla. The talented singer, shot down by close friend and manager Yolanda Saldivar at 23. Her tragedy was national news for weeks after her death as Saldivar was given life with parole after 30 years for Selena’s murder. 

But the story that led to Selena’s death is far from pretty. Many say Saldivar was just a fan and was president of her fan club. Others focus on Saldivar’s role as Selena’s manager only. There’s many parts of Saldivar and Selena’s relationship with each other that played into her untimely demise. 

There's a million and one stories about what led to the death of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla. But the truth is a story of mistrust, and tragedy.

A friend turned business partner

As Selena’s popularity grew and she became a style icon in the music industry, it became clear to her family that a fashion empire was the perfect next step. In 1994, Selena opened Selena Etc., a pair of boutiques specifically selling Selena’s fashion.

Selena’s family appointed Yolanda Saldivar in charge of managing the boutiques. She ran both the boutiques in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. By the end of the year, the staff at both locations was dwindling, leaving employees desperate for Selena to hear their pleas.

Turns out, Saldivar was firing employees she didn’t like, and abuse the ones she kept. Employees relayed this information to Selena, but she trusted Saldivar too much to listen to the complaints and concerns.

There's a million and one stories about what led to the death of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla. But the truth is a story of mistrust, and tragedy.

Father Quintanilla gets involved

Since Selena was ignoring the employees pleas, they turned to the next most powerful in her company: her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr. Quintanilla Jr. listened to the employees, and warned Selena of Saldivar, saying she isn’t a good influence. But since Quintanilla Jr. has a history of trust issues, Selena ignored his warning. 

Saldivar stayed in charge of Selena Etc., even though Selena’s fashion designer, cousin, and clients all came forward with complaints about her. It didn’t help that Saldivar had become Selena’s registered agent starting in August of 1994, meaning all legal proceedings involving Selena were handled by Saldivar. 

The non-existent fan club

Now this is where most people assume Saldivar was just a crazed fan. But the truth is the “Official Selena Fan Club” that Saldivar started was just a money embezzlement scheme. Saldivar got away with over $30,000 from Selena’s businesses and image before she was caught.

But in January 1995, Quintanilla Jr. received phone calls from angry customers, wondering why they never received anything after signing up for the fan club. After investigating, Quintanilla Jr. discovered the embezzlement scheme and approached Selena with the evidence. 

March 9th, 1995, Quintanilla Jr., Selena, and her sister Suzette sat down with Saldivar to confront her about the fan club and embezzlement. He threatened her with police action, and banned Saldivar from having any contact with Selena. Saldivar was forced to step down from managing Selena ETC. effective immediately.

There's a million and one stories about what led to the death of Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla. But the truth is a story of mistrust, and tragedy.

The shot heard around Texas and the world

Saldivar took her time in giving the financial and bank records back to Selena for the boutiques, giving a variety of excuses for why. But Saldivar lured Selena into a hotel room in Corpus Christi, where Selena demanded the records. Saldivar responded by pulling out a gun. 

Selena begged for her life, and attempted to flee, but Saldivar shot Selena in her right shoulder before she could escape. Cutting an artery, Selena made her way to the lobby, leaving a trail of blood behind her. She told the front desk staff who her killer was, as Saldivar tried to run away in her truck. 

Even with quick medical attention, Selena had lost too much blood to survive, and died from blood loss and cardiac arrest. Saldivar was on a stand off with the police after being caught, but eventually surrendered. But the price was already paid. Saldivar robbed the world of the Queen of Tejano. No time in prison served could make up for that. 

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  • i love selena

    April 28, 2021

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