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Meet Selena Quintanilla’s fan who eventually killed her

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Yolanda Saldivar’s name is forever intertwined with the tragic tale of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, a luminous Tejano superstar whose life was tragically cut short.

Saldívar was a former nurse turned fan club president and manager of Selena’s boutiques. While her initial connection to the superstar singer was one of admiration and devotion, their relationship eventually took a dark and tumultuous turn, culminating in a shocking act that shocked the world.

This article delves into the complex narrative of Yolanda Saldívar, exploring her journey from a devoted fan to a convicted murderer.

Who is Yolanda Saldívar?

Yolanda Saldívar face

Yolanda Saldívar, born on September 19, 1960, in San Antonio, Texas, is a former American nurse who gained notoriety for her involvement in the tragic murder of singer Selena Quintanilla in 1995. She is one of seven children born to Frank and Juanita Saldívar. Saldívar became involved with Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the famous Tejano singer who was affectionately known as Selena, through her work as the president of Selena’s fan club.

Saldívar did have a passion for country music. However, after attending one of Selena’s concerts, she began persistently contacting the singer’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, with the idea of establishing a fan club in San Antonio, situated in the US state of Texas. Eventually, Selena yielded to Saldívar’s requests and she promptly assumed the role of the club’s president.

In due course, Saldívar was promoted to the position of manager of Selena Etc, Selena’s clothing boutiques. By 1993, the fan club had amassed 1,500 members in less than four years and subsequently expanded to over 5,000, making it one of the largest fan clubs in the San Antonio region.

However, the relationship had a dark side. According to people who knew her, Saldívar was possessive, even obsessed with Selena.

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“A woman who moved into an apartment with Yolanda discovered that Yolanda didn’t just have pictures of Selena on her walls—the whole place was ‘like a shrine,’” an article in Texas Monthly noted.

Soon, customers began to complain about unfulfilled orders. It became evident that Saldívar was not only mismanaging the boutiques but also likely embezzling money. Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father, discovered evidence suggesting that Saldívar had stolen from both the boutiques and fan clubs. On March 9, 1995, the Quintanilla family confronted Saldívar about her actions.

‘I told her that I was going to go to the police and make an investigation for embezzlement,’ Selena’s father told the UPI in 1995.

Why Was Yolanda Saldívar Imprisoned?

Yolanda Saldívar

Saldívar was convicted of the murder of Selena. In early 1995, Selena’s family discovered that Saldívar had been embezzling money from both the fan club and boutiques, which led to her firing in the first week of March. On the morning of March 31, 1995, Selena agreed to meet Saldívar at a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi to retrieve financial records Saldívar had been refusing to turn over.

Saldívar delayed the handover by claiming she had been raped in Mexico. Selena drove Saldívar to a local hospital, where they were told that the gynaecological exam was to be done elsewhere because the assault had allegedly happened in another country.

They returned to the motel, where Selena once more demanded the records. Saldívar then took a .38 Taurus Model 85 revolver from her purse and pointed it at the singer. Selena tried to flee, but Saldívar shot her once in the back, severing an artery. Critically wounded, Selena ran towards the lobby for help with Saldívar in pursuit, calling her a “bitch”.

Selena collapsed on the floor as the clerk called 911. She later died in a hospital from blood loss at 1:05 p.m. To this day, Saldívar maintains that shooting Selena was an accident.

“She (Selena) 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,” Saldívar said in her statement to police investigators, as reported by the L.A. Times. Saldívar reiterated this account during her interview with 20/20 News.

During her trial in October 1995, Saldívar pled not guilty but the jury reached a different conclusion, which concurred with that of Abraham, who believed that his daughter was killed in a crime.

“It was no accident. It was a moment of rage because she was being fired,” Abraham Quintanilla stated on Univision’s Primer Impacto.

Saldívar’s trial for the murder of Selena was followed closely by the Latino community in the United States. The trial was not televised, but cameras were permitted on the courthouse premises. The venue was moved to Houston, Texas after Saldívar’s lawyers successfully argued that she could not receive a fair trial in Selena’s hometown.

Before the start of the trial, CNN reported that prosecutors were expected to introduce a controversial police confession signed by Saldívar in which she said she shot Selena “during an argument over accusations from the singer’s father that Saldívar stole money from Selena’s accounts”.

The defence, according to reports, was expected to introduce testimony from Texas Ranger Robert Garza that “he overheard Saldívar claim the shooting was accidental, and that she objected when police failed to include it in her statement”.

The defence attorney argued during the trial that the shooting was accidental, but the prosecution pointed out that Saldívar, a trained nurse, did not call 911 or try to help Selena after she was shot.

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Jurors deliberated for less than three hours on October 23, 1995, before finding Saldívar guilty of murder. Three days later, on October 26, she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in thirty years. This was the maximum prison term allowed in Texas at the time. On November 22, 1995, she arrived at the Gatesville Unit (now the Christina Melton Crain Unit) in Gatesville, Texas, to be processed.

The revolver used to kill Selena disappeared after the trial. It was later found in a box of office supplies at the home of court reporter Sandra Oballe, who has said she did not realise she had the weapon. Despite objections from some historical groups, it was dismantled and the pieces were thrown into Corpus Christi Bay in 2002.

Saldívar has asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to accept a petition that challenges her conviction. She claims the petition was filed in 2000 with the 214th District Court but was never sent to the higher court. Her request was received on March 31, 2008, on the 13th anniversary of Selena’s death.

Yolanda Saldívar release date

Yolanda Saldívar in court

Saldívar currently is serving her life sentence at the Mountain View Unit, a maximum security women’s prison in Gatesville, TX. She will become eligible for parole in 2025.

Yolanda Saldívar family

As stated earlier, Saldivar is one of seven children born to Frank, her father, and Juanita Saldívar, her mother.

Yolanda Saldívar age

Saldívar was born on September 19, 1960. She is 63 years old as of 2023.

Yolanda Saldívar now

Saldivar is still in prison where she is serving her sentence.

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