Selena's death received national attention and the public reaction to it was compared to those that followed the deaths of John Lennon, Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy.
The Selena Fan ClubEdit
A woman named Yolanda Saldivar became a fan of Tejano music during the mid-1980s. She originally disliked Selena because she had won awards that her favorite Tejano musicians were nominated in.
In mid-1991, Yolanda attended one of Selena's concerts in San Antonio, Texas with her niece and became a fan of Selena. On the day after the concert, she unsuccessfully searched news stands for a souvenir of the event. She got the idea of starting a Selena fan club in the San Antonio area to promote Selena.
According to Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr, Yolanda tried contacting him & left 15 messages for him, but Yolanda said that she only left three. Quintanilla, Jr. contacted Yolanda to discuss her idea of starting a fan club. After meeting with Saldívar, he approved of her idea and gave Yolanda permission to proceed with it.
In June of 1991, Yolanda became the founder & acting president of the Selena Fan Club in San Antonio, Texas. As president, she was responsible for membership benefits and collecting $22 in exchange for products promoting Selena, a T-shirt bearing Selena's name, exclusive interviews with the band, a fact sheet about Selena y Los Dinos and notifications of upcoming concerts. The proceeds from the fan club were donated to charities.
Selena's sister, Suzette Quintanilla was the contact person between Yolanda and the Quintanilla family; Yolanda didn't meet Selena until December of 1991. The two of them became close friends and the Quintanilla family trusted her.
By 1994, Yolanda had signed up more than 8,000 fans for the fan club. According to television news reporter & anchorwoman María Celeste Arrarás, she had become the "most efficient assistant" Selena ever had. Arrarás wrote that people noticed how eager Yolanda was to impress Selena and did anything the singer told her to do. One person told Arrarás, "if Selena would say, 'Jump!', [Saldívar] would jump three times".
Yolanda gave up her career as an in-home nurse for patients with terminal cancer & respiratory diseases to fully invest her time running the Selena fan club (even though she was earning less than she had as a nurse).
Selena Etc. BoutiquesEdit
In 1994, Selena opened up two boutiques called Selena Etc. in Corpus Christi and San Antonio, Texas; they were equipped with in-house beauty salons.
Quintanilla, Jr., thought that Yolanda was a potential candidate to run the businesses because the family would be touring the country. He also believed she was the best choice because of her success running the fan club & the family agreed.
In January of 1994, Yolanda became the manager of the boutiques. In September of 1994, Selena signed her as her registered agent in San Antonio. After being hired to run the boutiques, she moved from South San Antonio to Corpus Christi to be closer to Selena.
In an interview with "Primer Impacto" in 1995, Quintanilla, Jr., said he "always mistrusted Yolanda" even though the family never found anything odd about Yolanda's behavior.
Yolanda was authorized to write and cash checks and she had access to bank accounts associated with the fan club and boutiques. Selena gave Yolanda her American Express card for the purpose of conducting company business, but instead, Yolanda used it to rent Lincoln Town Cars, entertain associates in upmarket restaurants and buy two cellular telephones which she carried.
The staff at Selena Etc. complained that Yolanda was always "nice" when Selena was around, but Selena wasn't around, she treated everyone terribly.
In December of 1994, the boutiques began to suffer. The company's bank accounts lacked sufficient funds to pay bills. The staff levels at both stores had been reduced from thirty-eight to fourteen employees (mainly because Yolanda fired those she did not like).
The remaining employees began complaining to Selena about Yolanda, but Selena didn't believe that she would hurt her or her business. The employees then began to take their concerns to Quintanilla, Jr., who warned Selena that Yolanda might be a dangerous person. Selena did not believe that Yolanda would turn on her; her father had a habit of distrusting people.
In January of 1995, Selena's cousin, Debra Ramirez was hired to work in the boutiques and to help Selena expand the business into Mexico, but she quit within a week, telling Yolanda that she was dissatisfied with the failure of staff members to report sales. She also found receipts were missing from the sale of several boutique items. Yolanda told her to "mind [her] business" and that it was not her concern.
Yolanda frequently clashed with Selena's fashion designer, Martin Gomez, who complained that she was mismanaging Selena's affairs.
Their animosity intensified during Selena's fashion shows; Gomez accused Yolanda of mutilating or destroying some of his original creations and said she never paid bills. Gomez stated that Yolanda had "established a reign of terror"; the two were constantly complaining about each other to Selena.
Yolanda began recording their conversations without Gomez's consent to persuade Selena that he was not working for the boutiques' best interests. Later on, Gomez was relegated to a supporting role when Selena decided to design her clothes herself.
Between late 1994 and early 1995, Yolanda often traveled to Monterrey, Mexico to expedite the process of opening another Selena Etc. store. When she visited the factory in Mexico, Yolanda intimidated the seamstresses by telling them to either side with her or leave.
The Relationship of Selena & Yolanda SaldivarEdit
Yolanda was receiving "tokens of affection from [Selena]" which she was not accustomed to. Her room was covered with Selena posters & pictures, burning votive candles and a library of Selena videos which she played to entertain guests.
During an interview with Yolanda in 1995, reporters from The Dallas Morning News said her devotion to Selena bordered on obsession. Yolanda told employees at Selena Etc. she wanted to "be like Selena".
According to an unnamed former employee, Yolanda was "possessive" of her relationship with Selena and tried to distance her from the other employees. This person believed that Yolanda's goal was to "have more control over [the employees] and over Selena".
Yolanda said her reason for distancing the employees from Selena was to "shield" Selena from the "petty issues" of managing her boutiques. Along with the responsibility of running the boutiques, she accompanied Selena on trips and had keys to Selena's house. When Yolanda became a business associate, their relationship began to deteriorate.
In September of 1994, Selena met Ricardo Martinez, a doctor who lived in Monterrey, Mexico. Selena wanted to expand the number of boutiques by opening a Selena Etc. store in Monterrey. Martinez said that he had contacts in Mexico who could help Selena grow her business. He became a business adviser to Selena even though her family said he was simply a fan who posed in several pictures with her.
Yolanda became envious of Selena's dependency on Martinez. He began sending flowers to Selena's hotel room. She warned Selena that Martinez might have unprofessional intentions.
Selena began visiting Monterrey more frequently, often in disguise. Martinez's assistant, Sebastian D'Silva would pick up Selena at the airport; he said he noticed she was wearing wigs and using her husband Chris Pérez's surname so others would not identify her.
According to Martinez, he had lent several thousand dollars to Selena because she was short on cash.
Saldivar's Termination of EmploymentEdit
In January of 1995, Quintanilla, Jr., began receiving telephone calls and letters from angry Selena fans who claimed to have paid their enrollment fees, but had not received the promised memorabilia.
Upon investigation, Quintanilla, Jr., discovered Yolanda had embezzled more than $60,000 using forged checks from both the fan club and the boutiques. Yolanda's brother, Armando Saldívar, supposedly contacted Gomez and "made up a story" that she was stealing money from the fan club.
Gomez then contacted one of Selena's uncles by telephone; the uncle told Quintanilla, Jr. Armando said he was angry with Yolanda, but didn't want the reason to be made public; later he said he felt guilty for starting the rumor. He appeared on the Spanish-language television news program "Primer Impacto," but reporters found his comments illogical.
On March 9, 1995, Quintanilla, Jr., held a meeting with Selena and Suzette Quintanilla at Q-Productions to confront Yolanda. Quintanilla, Jr., presented Yolanda with evidence concerning the missing funds. He said Yolanda simply stared at him without answering any of his questions. Quintanilla, Jr., told her he would involve the police if she did not produce evidence that disproved his accusations.
When Quintanilla, Jr. asked her why fans were not receiving the promised gift packages, Yolanda said those fans were trying to get the items for free. Quintanilla, Jr., discovered that Yolanda had opened the fan club's bank account under her sister's name, "Maria Elida".
When asked why she had done this, Yolanda replied that the bank would not allow her to open an account in her name; she did not know the reason for this refusal. She abruptly left the meeting. Then, Quintanilla, Jr., banned Yolanda from contacting Selena.
However, Selena did not want to end their friendship because she felt Yolanda was essential to the success of her clothing line in Mexico. She also wanted to keep her close because Yolanda had bank records, statements & financial records necessary for tax purposes.
After the meeting, Quintanilla, Jr. discovered that the fan club's checks were signed with Maria Elida's signature in handwriting identical to Yolanda. He concluded that Yolanda was writing forged checks using her sister's name then cashing them and keeping the funds.
When Quintanilla, Jr., was trying to retrieve the fan club's bank statements, he said they had "vanished". He found a letter in Yolanda's handwriting stating that Maria Elida had to close the bank account because of a major problem.
According to the letter, a member of the fan club, Yvonne Perales, was sent to the bank to deposit $3,000, but she did not deposit the money and could not be found. The letter stated that Maria Elida found out about the situation "too late" and that Perales and the money were missing.
Maria Elida then wrote checks to be cashed by Yolanda even though the bank account had no funds. The letter said Maria Elida was closing the account for that reason and that the bank would have to cover the checks.
Quintanilla, Jr. confronted Yolanda about Yvonne Perales' identity; he said that Yolanda knew nothing about her.
Quintanilla, Jr., said Yolanda did not trust the treasurer of the fan club, but she had trusted a complete stranger to deposit $3,000. He told her to "tell that lie to someone else". He concluded that Yvonne Perales did not exist since none of the fan club workers had ever met her.
Attempts to Murder SelenaEdit
The day after Yolanda was banned from contacting Selena, Quintanilla, Jr. drove to Q-Productions and chased her from the premises, telling her she was no longer welcome there. On that same day, Selena and Yolanda argued by telephone; Selena hung up and told Pérez that she could no longer trust her.
According to Quintanilla, Jr., there were four attempts to murder Selena.
On March 10, 1995, Selena removed Yolanda's name from the boutique's bank account and Yolanda was replaced as fan club president by Irene Herrera.
The next day, Yolanda purchased a gun at A Place to Shoot, a gun shop and shooting range in San Antonio, Texas. She bought a Taurus Model 85 snub-nosed .38-caliber revolver and .38 caliber hollow-point bullets; the bullets were designed to cause more extensive injuries than normal bullets.
Yolanda told the clerk she needed protection in her job as an in-home nurse because a patient's relatives had threatened her.
On March 13, 1995, Yolanda went to her lawyer and wrote her resignation which Quintanilla, Jr., believed was her alibi. The same day, Yolanda drove to Corpus Christi and checked into the Sand and Sea Motel. At the time, Selena was in Miami, Florida. Quintanilla, Jr., believed this would have been the first attempt to kill Selena.
When Selena arrived in Corpus Christi on March 14, 1995, Yolanda contacted her to schedule a meeting. She told Selena there was too much traffic and asked her to meet her at a parking lot twenty-five miles away from Corpus Christi.
Upon arriving, Selena told Yolanda she could remain in charge of her business affairs in Mexico. According to Quintanilla, Jr., Selena wanted to continue employing her until she could find a replacement. Yolanda showed Selena the gun she had bought; Selena told her to "get rid of it" and said she would protect Yolanda from her father (according to Yolanda and Pérez).
This, Quintanilla, Jr., believed, had calmed Yolanda and was the reason she did not kill Selena in the parking lot.
The next day, Yolanda returned the gun to the shop, saying her father had given her a .22-caliber pistol. On March 26, 1995, she stole a perfume sample and more bank statements from Selena in Mexico.
Yolanda accompanied Selena on a trip to Tennessee while Selena finished recording a song for her crossover album. Selena told Yolanda that some bank statements were missing and asked her to return them as soon as they returned to Texas.
Yolanda re-purchased the gun on March 27, 1995 and asked Selena to meet her alone at a motel room; this was her second attempt to kill Selena. The news of Selena's arrival spread and she was soon mobbed by fans. Quintanilla, Jr., believed her fans saved her that day; there were "too many witnesses".
According to him, the third attempt to kill Selena was during Saldívar's trip to Monterrey in the last week of March. Dr. Martinez received telephone calls from Saldívar crying hysterically and saying she had been raped on March 29, 1995.
The next day, Yolanda again called Dr. Martinez, who said the calls sounded as though someone was trying to snatch the telephone away from her. He sent an employee to Yolanda's motel room to investigate, but the employee found she had left a few minutes earlier.
On March 30, 1995, Yolanda returned from her Monterrey trip and checked into a Days Inn motel. She contacted Selena and told her that she had been raped. According to Quintanilla, Jr., this was the last message that they received from Yolanda; he believed this claim was her new alibi.
Yolanda asked Selena to visit her at her motel room alone, however, Perez accompanied her. According to Perez, he waited by his truck as Selena went alone to Saldívar's motel room.
As Perez was driving back to their house, Selena noticed Yolanda had failed to give her the correct bank statements she needed. Yolanda tried contacting Selena through her pager; she desperately wanted Selena to take her to a hospital that night. She told Selena she was bleeding due to her rape.
Quintanilla, Jr., believed Yolanda was trying to get Selena to return to the motel alone. Pérez told Selena it was "too late" and didn't want her to go out alone. Unbeknownst to Pérez, Selena agreed to meet Yolanda the next morning.
On March 30, 1995, Selena contacted Leonard Wong about the perfume samples he had made for her. According to Wong, she told him she would be meeting Yolanda the next morning to pick up the samples that had been stolen from her. On that same day, she told another employee at the boutique she was expecting to fire Yolanda.
On March 31, 1995 at 7:30 a.m., Selena rose from her bed, donned green workout sweats and left for Yolanda's motel room. At the motel, Yolanda told her that she had been raped in Mexico.
Selena took her to Doctors Regional Hospital where medical staff noticed Yolanda showed symptoms of depression. Yolanda told a doctor she had bled "a little". The doctor noticed that Selena was angry at Yolanda and told her that Yolanda said she had been bleeding copiously the day before.
The doctor found no evidence of rape and told Yolanda that she should go to San Antonio to get a gynecological examination. According to Texas rape case law, they were unable to perform the examination because Yolanda was a resident of San Antonio and the rape had occurred outside the country.
While driving back to the motel, Selena told Yolanda it would be best if they stayed apart for a while to avoid upsetting Quintanilla, Jr.,. According to Dr. Martinez, Selena attempted to contact him that morning, but he couldn't speak on the telephone because he was performing surgery.
At 10:00 a.m., Quintanilla, Jr., contacted Pérez to determine where Selena was; Selena was supposed to record a song at Q-Productions that morning and she had not arrived. Pérez called Selena on her cell phone and reminded her of the scheduled recording.
Selena told him she had forgotten the session and that she was "taking care of one last [item of] business" and would be at Q-Productions soon after. This was the last telephone call that Selena answered and was the last time Pérez heard her voice.
At the motel room, Selena and Yolanda began arguing. Motel guests complained about loud noises coming from Yolanda's room. They said they heard two women arguing about business matters.
Selena told Yolanda that she could no longer be trusted and demanded that she return her financial papers. Then, Selena dumped Yolanda's satchel containing bank statements onto the bed and she saw the gun.
At 11:48 a.m., Yolanda pointed it at Selena. As Selena tried to flee the room, Yolanda shot her once on the lower right shoulder, severing an artery and causing a massive loss of blood. Trinidad Espinoza (the hotel's maintenance man) reported hearing a "loud bang" which he likened to a car engine misfiring.
Selena was critically wounded; she ran towards the lobby, leaving a trail of blood 392 feet (119 m) long. She was seen clutching her chest screaming, "Help me! Help me! I've been shot!"
Yolanda was still chasing after Selena, pointing the gun at he and calling her a "bitch". According to Carlos Morales (who was waiting outside the motel), he heard screaming and saw Selena running towards him. She grabbed Morales and screamed, "they'll shoot me again".
Selena collapsed on the floor at 11:49 a.m. as hotel General Manager Barbara Schultz telephoned emergency services. Selena identified Yolanda as her assailant and gave the number of the room where she had been shot.
Shawna Vela and hotel sales manager Ruben DeLeon tried to stop the flow of blood. Selena's condition began to deteriorate rapidly as motel staff attended to her.
Selena screamed at the staff, telling them, "lock the door, she'll shoot me again". DeLeon tried to talk to Selena, but he noticed that she was beginning to lose consciousness; he said Selena was moaning and moving less often. DeLeon noticed Selena's eyes had rolled back and that she went limp.
An ambulance arrived at the scene in one minute and 55 seconds. The paramedics tore away the green sweater where the bleeding was taking place and applied a Vaseline gauze to Selena's wound which stopped the surface bleeding.
Selena's heartbeat was now very slow; a paramedic performed CPR to keep her blood circulating. Paramedic Richard Fredrickson said "it was too late" when he arrived in the lobby. He found a "thick [pool of blood] from her neck to her knees, all the way around on both sides [of her body]". Fredrickson could not locate a pulse; when he placed his fingers on Selena's neck, he felt only muscle twitches.
A paramedic tried inserting an intravenous needle into Selena, but her veins had collapsed because of the massive blood loss and low (or no) blood pressure, making the insertion extremely difficult. The local police closed off Navigation Boulevard.
When paramedics delivered Selena to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital at 12:00 p.m., Selena's pupils were fixed & dilated, there was no evidence of neurological function and she had no vital signs.
Doctors were able to establish an "erratic heartbeat" long enough to transfer Selena to the trauma room. Doctors began blood transfusions in an attempt to re-establish blood circulation after opening Selena's chest and finding massive internal bleeding. Her right lung was damaged, her collarbone was shattered and her veins were emptied of blood.
Doctors widened Selena's chest opening, administered drugs into her heart and applied pressure to her wounds. Dr. Louis Elkins said a "pencil-size artery leading from the heart had been cut in two by the hollow-point bullet" and that six units of blood from the transfusion had spilled out from Selena's circulatory system.
After 50 minutes, the doctors realized that the damage was irreparable. At 1:05 p.m., Selena was pronounced dead from blood loss and cardiac arrest.
Saldivar's Standoff and Selena's Post-Mortem ExaminationEdit
After the shooting, Yolanda entered her red 1994 GMC pickup truck and tried to leave the motel parking lot.
Motel employee Rosario Garza saw her leave her room with a wrapped towel. It was later thought that Yolanda was going to Q-Productions to shoot Quintanilla, Jr., and others who were waiting for Selena.
However, Yolanda was spotted by a responding police officer in a vehicle. The officer left his vehicle, drew his gun and ordered her out of the truck, but Yolanda did not comply. She backed up and parked adjacent to two cars. Her truck was blocked in by the police vehicle. Yolanda picked up the pistol, pointed it at her right temple and threatened to commit suicide.
A SWAT team and the FBI Crisis Negotiation Unit were brought in. Musicologist Himilce Novas later said the event was reminiscent of O.J. Simpson's planned suicide 10 months earlier.
Larry Young and Isaac Valencia began negotiating with Yolanda. They ran a telephone line to their base of operations adjacent to her pickup truck as the standoff continued.
Lead negotiator Young tried to establish a rapport with Yolanda and persuade her to give herself up. Valencia suggested the shooting was accidental; Yolanda later changed her story, saying the "gun went off" by itself. She spoke to relatives in addition to speaking with police.
Motel guests were ordered to remain in their rooms until police escorted them out.
During the third hour after the shooting, an autopsy was performed on Selena due to overwhelming media interest.
The autopsy revealed that the bullet had entered Selena's lower back, passed through her chest cavity, severed the right subclavian artery & exited her right upper chest. Doctors said that if the bullet had been only one millimeter higher or lower, the wound would have been less severe.
Later that afternoon, police drained the gasoline from the gas tank of Yolanda's car and turned on floodlights. After the standoff entered its fourth hour, Valencia succeeded in getting her to confess that she had intended to shoot herself.
Yolanda said when she placed the gun to her own head, Selena tried to tell her not to kill herself. When Selena opened the door to leave, Yolanda said she told her to close it. She also said the gun went off when Selena left.
During the sixth hour, Yolanda agreed to give herself up, but when she saw a police officer pointing a rifle at her, she panicked, ran back to her truck, picked up the revolver and pointed it at her head again.
After more than 9 hours, Yolanda surrendered to authorities. By then, hundreds of Selena's fans had gathered at the scene; many wept as police took Yolanda away.
A press conference was called within hours of Selena's murder; Yolanda had not yet been named in media reports. Assistant Police Chief Ken Bung and Quintanilla, Jr., told the press the possible motive was Selena's intention to terminate Yolanda's employment.
Rudy Treviño (the director of the Texas Talent Music Association and sponsor of the Tejano Music Awards) declared that March 31, 1995 would be known as "Black Friday".
The Impact of Selena's DeathEdit
When radio station KEDA-AM broke the news of Selena's death, many people accused the staff of lying because the next day was April Fools' Day.
In San Antonio, Texas, major Spanish-language radio stations (including Tejano 107, KXTN-FM, KRIO-FM and KEDA-AM) began monitoring developments.
All major U.S. networks interrupted their regular programming to break the news. The lead item on national television network evening news programs in Corpus Christi, Texas had been the end of the 1994–95 Major League Baseball (MLB) strike.
Within 30 minutes of its announcement, Selena's murder was the lead item on all television stations in South Texas. Her death was front-page news in "The New York Times" for two days and was featured prominently on BBC World News.
The news of Selena's death reached Japan where David Byrne first heard of the shooting. Univision and Telemundo were among the first national news stations to arrive at the crime scene.
Carlos Lopez of KMIQ-105.1 told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times that "Tejano music is dead for at least today" and compared the reactions to Selena's death to reactions to the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and called March 31, 1995 "Black Friday".
Radio stations in Texas began playing Selena's music non-stop and taking telephone calls from distressed fans.
Newsstands were swarmed by people looking for items concerning Selena.
A line for the April 1, 1995 edition of the Corpus Christi Caller Times formed; the company added 11,000 copies to their print run and later printed 20,000 more copies to meet continued demand for the paper.
A "People" magazine issue was released several days after her murder. Its publishers believed interest would soon wane; they released a commemorative issue within a week when it became apparent that interest was growing.
The issue sold nearly a million copies, selling the entire first and second run within two weeks. It became a collector's item—a first in the history of "People" magazine. Betty Cortina (editor of "People") told Biography, "it was unheard of" for an issue to completely sell out.
In the following months, the success of the Selena issue led the company to release "People en Español" aimed at the Hispanic market. This was followed by "Newsweek en Espanol" and "Latina" magazine.
Puerto Rican-American actress Jennifer Lopez was cast to play Selena in the 1997 biopic film about her life; this choice drew criticism because of Lopez's ancestry.
After the film's release, fans changed their views on Jennifer Lopez after seeing her performance in the movie. She became famous after the film's release.
Selena's life and career were covered by a number of television programs including "The Oprah Winfrey Show", the E! network's "True Hollywood Story", VH1's "Behind The Music", "American Justice," "Snapped" and "Famous Crime Scene."
Other networks including MTV, Investigation Discovery (ID), The Biography Channel and the A&E Network have aired special programs about Selena while Spanish-language networks regularly show documentaries to commemorate the anniversary of her death.
These Spanish-language documentaries are among the most-watched programs in the history of American television and often score record ratings for networks.
A documentary titled "Selena, A Star is Dimmed" (one of the first about her) was broadcast on Univison's "Primer Impacto" on April 4, 1995 where it was watched by 2.09 million people and became the second-most-viewed Spanish-language show in the history of American television at the time.
Networks competed with each other to interview Yolanda Saldivar about the shooting.
When news that Arrarás was able to interview her broke, Univision was inundated with requests to use the interview from major networks as far away as Germany.
The interview on "Primer Impacto" was watched by 4.5 million viewers; it was the most-watched program that night according to the Nielsen ratings and became one of the most-watched Spanish-language programs in American television history.
Impact in the Hispanic CommunityEdit
The news of Selena's death deeply affected the Hispanic community; many people traveled thousands of miles to visit Selena's house, boutiques and the crime scene.
By mid-afternoon, police were asked to form a detour as a line of automobiles began backing up traffic from the Quintanillas' house.
On the street where Selena had lived, gang graffiti and cacti distinguished the blue-collar community from other subdivisions across America. A chain-link fence in front of Selena's house became a shrine festooned with mementoes as fans from across America left messages to Selena and the Quintanilla family.
Most car drivers in Corpus Christi and those driving cars on Interstate 37 from Mexico turned their headlights on in her memory.
Fans scribbled notes & messages and placed them on the door and doorstep of the room in which Selena had been shot.
Soon after learning of Selena's death, people began speculating about the identity of her murderer. Some fans thought Emilio Navaira's wife had shot Selena; they believed she was jealous of Selena and Navaira's relationship.
Johnny Pasillas, Emilio's brother-in-law and manager frantically called radio stations in an attempt to quash the rumor. Among the celebrities who believed the rumor were record producer Manny Guerra, Pete Rodriguez, and American singer Ramon Hernandez.
According to anchorwoman Arrarás, Selena's death became "the most important news [story] of the year for Hispanics".
Texas Monthly editor Pamela Colloff wrote that reactions to her death were equivalent to those following a political assassination. The reactions were compared to those that followed the deaths of John Lennon, Elvis Presley, and John F. Kennedy.
Selena had a "cult-like" following among Hispanics; after her death she became a household name in the United States and a part of the American pop culture. She was more popular after her death than when she was alive.
Selena became a cultural icon for Latinos and was seen as "a woman who was proud of her roots [who had] achieved her dreams".
According to Antonio Lopez of the Santa Fe New Mexican, the day Selena was killed "is a bookmark in time in the memories of many Latinos". According to Arrarás, "women imitated her, men worshiped her".
In the aftermath of Selena's murder, two linked deaths in California were reported.
A drag queen planned to dress as Selena for a performance; he was hit by a car and left to die. Actor Gloria de la Cruz auditioned for the role of Selena; her body was later found in a dumpster in Los Angeles. Her killer had strangled her and set her body on fire.
Reactions From Celebrities & PoliticiansEdit
Spanish singer Julio Iglesias interrupted a recording session in Miami for a moment of silence.
Among the celebrities who contacted the Quintanilla family following the news were Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz, Iglesias and Madonna.
Concerts throughout Texas were canceled; La Mafia canceled their concert in Guatemala and flew back to Texas. Tejano singer Ramiro Herrera and dozens of other Tejano artists also canceled their concerts.
Ben Benavidez (radio personality and owner of Tejano Review) told Corpus Christi Caller Times that March 31, 1995 would be remembered as "the worst day in Corpus Christi history".
American singer-songwriter Rhett Lawrence published an advertisement in Billboard magazine's 22 April 1995 issue; it said, "music I heard with you was more than music. You will be deeply missed."
Other celebrities interviewed on radio stations including Stefanie Ridel, Jaime DeAnda (of Los Chamacos), Elsa Garcia and Shelly Lares expressed their thoughts about Selena's death.
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey called Selena's life "short but significant" during a March 1997 episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
American singer-songwriter Mariah Carey told MTV Selena's death was shocking to her because of "the way it had happened so abruptly in a young life".
State senator Carlos Truan and state representative Solomon P. Ortiz reportedly mourned Selena's death.
American music industry executive Daniel Glass told Texas Monthly he believed Selena would have enjoyed greater career success had it not been for her death.
A few days after Selena's death, then-president of the United States, Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary sent a letter of condolence to Selena's husband Chris Pérez.
A few days later, Howard Stern mocked Selena's murder, burial & mourners, and criticized her music. Stern said, "This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul ... Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth." He then played Selena's songs with gunshot noises in the background.
Stern's comments and actions outraged and infuriated the Hispanic community in Texas. After an arrest warrant for disorderly conduct was issued for him, Stern made an on-air statement in Spanish, saying his comments were not made to cause "more anguish to her family, friends and those who loved her."
The League of United Latin American Citizens found his apology unacceptable and urged a boycott of his show. Texas retailers removed products related to Stern. Sears and McDonalds sent a letter expressing their disapproval of Stern's comments to the media because fans believed they sponsored his show.
Within a week, on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", Howard Stern and his co-host Robin Quivers were asked if his remarks about Selena were acceptable.
Quivers decided not to talk about the situation to avoid arguing with Stern. When Linda Ronstadt (a pop singer of Mexican-American heritage) appeared on the show, she and Quivers argued when Ronstadt defended Selena.
Other Reactions to Selena's DeathEdit
On April 12, 1995 (two weeks after Selena's death), Texas governor George W. Bush declared her birthday Selena Day in Texas. Bush said Selena represented "the essence of south Texas culture".
On Selena Day, approximately a thousand fans gathered at her grave and began singing traditional Mexican folk songs; police were brought in to control the crowd. On that same day, a crowd of three thousand attended an organized mass of the resurrection for Selena at Johnnyland Concert Park.
In April and May that year, some European-Americans in Texas wrote to the editor of the Brazosport Facts questioning the fuss over her death; some were offended because Selena Day coincided with Easter Sunday.
Others said, "Easter is more important than Selena Day" and believed people should let Selena rest in peace & get on with their lives.
Mexican-Americans living in Texas also wrote to the newspaper; some agreed that others were too critical of "Selena Day", stating they did not need to celebrate the day and should not have responded to its announcement so rudely.
This was also seen by the Corpus Christi Caller Times, which said it had printed several of the negative comments left by people and that many comments were "unprintable". Hispanic filmmaker Lourdes Portillo said she did not know who Selena was when she heard about the shooting.
When the news of Selena's death broke, some Americans asked who she was and said she was "not that important", suggesting Hispanics "get over it".
Author and Texas Monthly magazine contributor Joe Nick Patoski said Anglo-Americans and Mexican-Americans were divided in their reactions to Selena's death. Patoski said that Anglo-Americans "didn't understand what all the fuss was about".
This was echoed in the Corpus Christi Caller Times, where they found racial divisions in the reactions to Selena's death. Educators who had observed the reactions said, "the emergence of an icon in a minority culture can be both bewildering and threatening to Anglos".
Melicent Rothschild said some Americans often do not understand "the cultural role models of groups who have felt discriminated against".
Following Selena's death, cultural confrontations were reported.
Some vocally opposed any memorials to the singer, feeling that they would be costed to taxpayers. Others complained to newspapers about the media interest in Selena's death.
Many media outlets received negative comments from people around the country. some were baffled that the Rossler massacre (which occurred around the same time of Selena's death) did not generate the same amount of media exposure.
Mayor Mary Rhodes said many of the people complaining about the media exposure Selena was receiving had never heard of her.
In the 1997 biopic film about Selena, a store manager asks Hispanics running towards the singer for an autograph, "Who's Selena?" Americans felt the scene was "irrelevant" and "over dramatized".
One Selena fan said the event depicted in the scene "happens all the time" to Hispanics and their friends, and that they feel their community has been "ignored".
Lauraine Miller said, "Selena has opened my eyes" and that Miller had become "more American". Another fan said, "nobody ever lets you forget you are Mexican American" in the U.S.
Funerals & TributesEdit
On the day of Selena's murder, vigils and memorials were held throughout Texas and California.
Radio station Tejano 107 sponsored a candlelight vigil at the Sunken Gardens while KRIO-FM sponsored another at South Park Mall on March 31, 1995 which was attended by 5,000 people. Radio stations in Texas played her music non-stop.
On April 1, 1995, Bayfront Plaza in Corpus Christi held a vigil which drew 3,000 fans. During the event, it was announced that a public viewing of the casket would be held at the Bayfront Auditorium the following day. Fans lined up for almost a mile.
An hour before the doors opened, rumors that the casket was empty began circulating which prompted the Quintanilla family to have an open-casket viewing.
About 30,000 to 40,000 fans passed by Selena's casket. More than 78,000 signed a book of condolence. Flowers for the casket viewing were imported from The Netherlands. At the request of Selena's family, video and flash photography was banned.
The same day, an unannounced bilingual Sunday morning mass for Selena featuring a mariachi choir was held at the San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio.
In the United States, churches with a high proportion of Hispanic worshippers held prayers for Selena. A reporter noticed that many "mythic symbols" such as the Christian symbols of angels, saints, healers, and saviors, were "attached to Selena" by fans.
There was a tribute for Selena during a St. Patrick's Day celebration in a Catholic church in Houston, Texas.
Priest Father Sal DeGeorge decided to hold a tribute to Selena that day after people (especially children) asked him what was being planned for her. That same day, a disc jockey played Selena's music near the church in a small park.
On April 3, 1995, six hundred guest (mostly family members) attended Selena's burial at Seaside Memorial Park which was broadcast live by a Corpus Christi and San Antonio radio station without the consent of her family.
A Jehovah's Witness minister from Lake Jackson preached in English, quoting Paul the Apostle's words in 1 Corinthians 15. Hundreds of people began circling the area in their vehicles.
Among the celebrities who attended the funeral were Roberto Pulido, Bobby Pulido, David Lee Garza, Navaira, Laura Canales, Elsa Garcia, La Mafia, Ram Herrera, Imagen Latina and Astudillo.
A special mass held the same day at Los Angeles Sports Arena drew a crowd of 4,000. Selena had been booked to play there that night for her Amor Prohibido Tour. The promoter charged an admission fee which upset Quintanilla, Jr.
Modesto Lopez Portillo drove from El Salvador to Los Angeles to be the officiating priest for the gathering; the consul general of El Salvador attended as well.
In Lake Jackson, a thousand fans and friends of Selena gathered at the municipal park in neighboring Clute, where she had played at the Mosquito Festival in July 1994.
The next day, Our Lady of the Pillar (a church in Spain) held a mass for Selena which drew 450 people to the 225-seat church. In the weeks following her death, cars throughout Texas were seen with pictures of Selena painted on them.
On April 28, 1995 during a fireworks display for Buccaneer Days in Corpus Christi, the music was reworked to include "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" in her memory. The Selena Etc. boutiques became shrines to Selena as fans left balloons, flowers, pictures and poems.
Street murals of Selena were found across Texas after her death.
In the months following Selena's death, an average of 12,000 people visited her grave site and the Days Inn motel where the shooting occurred. The motel's manager rearranged its room numbers so guests would not know in which room Selena had been shot.
Selena became part of the "Day of the Dead" celebration.
In 1997, Selena was commemorated with a museum and a life-sized bronze statue, Mirador de la Flor in Corpus Christi (which are visited by hundreds of fans each week).
Fans flocked to her statue & murals, seeing them as a symbols of self-identity, unionism, religious expression, resistance, self-expression, equality, liberation, passion, optimism, possibility and "encouragement and hope to the poor".
Musicians used music to express their thoughts about Selena or recorded compositions as tributes to her.
These included American country artist Tony Joe White, Haitian singer-songwriter Wyclef Jean, American Tejano artist Pete Astudillo, Puerto Rican American group the Barrio Boyzz, Mexican American singer Graciela Beltran, American Tejano artist Jennifer Pena, American hip-hop singer Lil Ray, American Tejano artists Emilio Navaria, Bobby Pulido, Cuban salsa singer Celia Cruz, Dominican salsa singer José Alberto "El Canario", Puerto Rican American salsa singers Ray Sepulveda, Michael Stuart, Manny Manuel, Puerto Rican American jazz singer Hilton Ruiz, American singer Jenni Rivera, Mexican singer Lupillo Rivera, Venezuelan rock singer Mikel Erentxun, Puerto Rican American singer Tony Garcia and American rapper King L.
On April 7, 2005, Selena's family and her former band Los Dinos held a tribute concert a week after the 10th anniversary of her murder.
The concert (titled "Selena ¡VIVE!) was broadcast live on Univision and achieved a 35.9 household rating.
It was the highest-rated and most-viewed Spanish-language television special in the history of American television. It was the most-watched program—regardless of language—among adults ages 18 to 34 in Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco; it tied for first in New York, beating that night's episode of Fox's "American Idol."
Among Hispanic viewers, figures for "Selena ¡VIVE!" exceeded those for Super Bowl XLV between the Packers and the Steelers and the telenovela "Soy Tu Dueña" (during what was the "most-watched NFL season ever among Hispanics").
In January of 2015, it was announced that a two-day annual event called "Fiesta de la Flor" would be held in Corpus Christi by the Corpus Christi Visitors Bureau as a tribute to Selena.
Musical acts for the first annual event included Kumbia All-Starz, Chris Pérez, Los Lobos, Jay Perez, Little Joe y la Familia, Los Palominos, Stefani Montiel of Las 3 Divas, Girl in a Coma's Nina Diaz, Las Fenix and "The Voice" competitor Clarissa Serna.
The event raised $13 million and was attended by 52,000 people, 72% of whom lived outside Corpus Christi. The event sparked interest from people in thirty-five U.S. states and five countries including Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador.
At the time of Selena's death, 52% of all Latin music sales were generated by regional Mexican music; most of this was Tejano (which had become one of the most popular Latin music genres). Her music led the genre's 1990s revival and made it marketable for the first time.
Many media outlets described Selena as the "Queen of Tejano music". Major record companies including EMI Records, SBK Records, Warner Music Group, CBS Records and Sony Music began signing Tejano artists to compete in the Latin music market.
Following Selena's death, the Tejano music market suffered and its popularity waned. Radio stations in the United States that played Tejano music switched to regional Mexican music and by 1997, KQQK was the only radio station playing non-stop Tejano music.
By the mid-2000s, radio stations in the United States no longer played Tejano music, large auditoria stopped hosting Tejano artists by 2007 and major record companies abandoned their Tejano artists after 1995.
Selena remains the best-selling Tejano artist of all time and continues to outsell living Tejano artists. She remains the only Tejano musician whose recordings continue to chart on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
After her death, Tejano music was replaced with Latin pop as the most popular Latin music genre in the United States.
Within hours of Selena's murder, record stores sold out of her albums; EMI Latin began pressing several million CDs and cassettes to meet the expected demand.
Gloria Ballesteros, a sales representative of Southwestern Wholesalers in San Antonio, told Billboard their inventory of 5,000 copies of Selena albums was sold out by the afternoon of her death.
Record stores ordering more copies of Selena's recordings were told by EMI Latin representatives they would not be able to restock for a few days. EMI Latin shipped 500,000 units of her recordings to stores in the two weeks following her death.
Selena's single "Fotos y Recuerdos" peaked at #4 on the US Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart the day she was killed; it peaked at number one on April 15, 1995.
Her singles "No Me Queda Más", "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", "Como La Flor" and "Amor Prohibido" re-entered the Hot Latin Tracks and the Regional Mexican Airplay chart in the issue of Billboard magazine dated April 15, 1995.
Selena's 1994 album "Amor Prohibido" re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at #92, representing a 520 percent increase in sales; 12,040 units sold the week Selena was murdered. The following week, the album rose to number 32 with 28,238 units sold representing a 135 percent increase.
"Amor Prohibido" (which was positioned at number four on March 31st) peaked at number one on the Top Latin Albums chart in the issue dated April 15, 1995.
Three of Selena's albums: "Entre a Mi Mundo" (1992), "Selena Live!" (1993) and 12 Super Exitos" (1994) re-entered the Top Latin Albums chart while Selena's albums took chart positions one to four on the Regional Mexican Albums chart that same week.
Selena's albums sparked a buying frenzy for Latin music in Japan, Germany, and China.
Selena's crossover album "Dreaming of You" was released in July of 1995. On the day the album was released, 175,000 copies were sold in the U.S. (which was a record for a female vocalist) and 331,000 copies sold in its first week.
Selena became the third female artist after Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey to sell over 300,000 units in one week. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming the first album by a Hispanic artist to do so.
"Dreaming of You" was the first posthumous album by a solo artist to debut at number one. It was among the top ten best-selling debuts for a musician and was the best-selling debut by a female act.
"Dreaming of You" joined five of Selena's studio albums on the Billboard 200 chart simultaneously, making her the first female artist in Billboard history to accomplish this feat.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album 35x platinum for shipping more than 3.5 million copies in the U.S. As of 2017, "Dreaming of You" has sold five million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling Latin album of all-time in the United States.
Five of Selena's albums generated $4 million in sales within five years.
Selena was inducted into the Billboard Latin Music Hall of Fame, the Hard Rock Cafe's Hall of Fame in 1995, the South Texas Music Hall of Fame and the Tejano Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
In December of 1999, Selena was named the "top Latin artist of the '90s" and the "best-selling Latin artist of the decade" by Billboard for her fourteen top-ten singles—including seven number-one hits—in the Top Latin Songs chart.
The Trial of Yolanda SaldivarEdit
Within twenty minutes of Yolanda Saldivar's surrender to authorities, she was taken to the downtown police station in Corpus Christi and placed in an interrogation room with investigators Paul and Ray Rivera.
Paul Rivera (who had investigated homicides since 1978) informed Yolanda of her right to an attorney which she waived. When police investigators surrounded her truck, Yolanda had cried out, "I can't believe I killed my best friend".
Within hours, Yolanda was saying the shooting was accidental. Her bail bond was initially set at $100,000, but District Attorney Carlos Valdez persuaded the presiding judge to raise it to $500,000.
When bail was announced, fans asked why the death penalty had not been sought. The Nueces County Jail was deluged with death threats and there were public calls for vigilante justice.
Some gang members in Texas were reported to have taken up collections to raise the bond for Yolanda so they could kill her when she was released.
While in prison, Yolanda faced more death threats from inmates. The Mexican Mafia (a dominant gang in the Texas penal system) reportedly placed a price on her head and spread the word that anyone who committed the crime would be a hero.
Yolanda's crime was punishable by up to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Before her trial, she was kept at Nueces County Jail under a suicide watch. The state had difficulty arranging defense counsel for Yolanda; a spokesperson said any lawyer defending her could face death threats.
Yolanda was assigned attorney Douglas Tinker (who was paid for by the people of Texas). Tinker's wife feared they would suffer from community retribution and asked him not to take the case. Tinker chose Arnold Garcia (a former district prosecutor) as his legal counsel.
Valdez (who lived a few blocks away from the Quintanilla family) chose Mark Skurka as his legal counsel. Mike Westergren presided over the case which was moved to the Harris County Courthouse in Houston, Texas to ensure an impartial jury.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Selena murder trial's publicity "rivaled that of the O.J. Simpson proceedings".
Westergren ordered that the trial would not be televised or taped and limited the number of reporters in the courtroom to avoid a "repeat of the Simpson circus".
The Chicago Tribune reported the division of interest in the trial between Hispanics and white Americans.
Donna Dickerson (a white American magazine publisher) told the Chicago Tribune that she had no interest in the trial because of Selena's "Hispanic background" and said Mexican-Americans had not shown the same enthusiasm when Elvis Presley was found dead.
The Selena murder trial was called the "trial of the century" and the most important trial to the Hispanic population. The trial generated interest in Europe, South America, Australia and Japan.
Yolanda pleaded not guilty, claiming that the shooting was accidental.
In his opening statement, Valdez said he believed Yolanda "deliberately killed Selena". Valdez also called it a "senseless and cowardly" act because Selena was shot in the back. Tinker said the shooting was accidental and denied rumors that Yolanda wanted to be romantically involved with Selena.
On October 23, 1995, the jury deliberated for two hours before finding Yolanda guilty of murder. She received the maximum sentence of life in prison with no eligibility of parole for 30 years.
On November 22, 1995, Yolanda arrived at the Gatesville Unit (now called the Christina Crain Unit) in Gatesville, Texas for processing. As of 2017, She is serving her sentence in Gatesville at the Mountain View Unit which is operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She will be eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.
Due to multiple internal death threats from incarcerated Selena fans, Yolanda was placed in isolation and spends twenty-three hours a day alone in her 9 by 6 feet (2.7 by 1.8 m) cell.