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Crime News Selena and Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them

Revisiting Selena Quintanilla's Shocking Murder and How Her Fans Mourned

Revisit the Queen of Tejano's shocking death and how fans continue to honor her memory.

By Caitlin Schunn

It was the death of a Grammy award-winning Latin pop star that shocked everyone — and even more surprising was the murderer behind the tragedy.

How to Watch

Watch Selena & Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them on Oxygen and Peacock. 

The slaying of 23-year-old Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was such worldwide news, it was even chronicled in Season 13, Episode 13 of Oxygen’s Snapped.

Now, Oxygen is revisiting the death in the limited series Selena & Yolanda: Secrets Between Them, premiering on Oxygen with back-to-back episodes Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and concluding Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. Episodes will be available to stream on Peacock the day after they air.

What happened to tragically end the young singer’s life nearly three decades ago? Look back at her murder and the legacy that still lives on today.

Don’t miss the latest in true crime:
Detective and Prosecutors Break Down the Scene of Selena Quintanilla’s Murder
What Selena Quintanilla's Husband Chris Perez's Life Is Like After Her Death

Where is Yolanda Saldivar Now? What to Know About Selena’s Killer

Cause of Death

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, known by fans as simply Selena, was gunned down and killed on March 31, 1995, The New York Times reported. She was shot in a room at a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi, Texas just before noon, and then stumbled to the lobby, police told the Times. She was taken to the hospital but died about an hour later. 

What followed was an hours-long standoff in the motel parking lot with Selena’s murderer, 32-year-old Yolanda Saldívar. Saldívar was identified to the Times as the former president of Selena’s fan club by the young singer’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. She sat in a red pickup truck in the lot with a gun held to her head for nearly ten hours, before surrendering just after 9:30 p.m.

Hundreds of people had gathered to watch the standoff and mourn the loss of the popular singer. The Times reported crying teenagers were among the crowd, some with tape machines that played Selena’s songs.

In the immediate aftermath, Selena’s father, Abraham, described Saldívar as a disgruntled employee who had been fired three weeks before the murder from the family’s clothing boutique, Selena, Etc. She was purportedly fired after it was discovered money was missing from the store. 

“There have been discrepancies,” Quintanilla told reporters at the hospital, according to the Times. “And they resulted in her shooting Selena.”  

Selena’s father said his daughter had demanded Saldívar return financial documents about the company, and the two women were meeting at the hotel to discuss it when Selena was shot.

Selena's Funeral

Selena Quintanilla's family at her Funeral featured on Selena and Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them

Selena’s fans were the driving force behind many of her memorials after death. Fans organized two memorial services in San Antonio, Texas — the acknowledged capital of Tejano music — just days after her murder, Time magazine reported. 

“On San Antonio’s South Side, a throng that included children and seniors converged on the parking lot of South Park Mall,” Time described in its April 10, 1995 issue. “As darkness fell, they waved candles, wept and swayed gently to Selena’s recordings. A similar scene took place across town at Brackenridge Park. Meanwhile, thousands of callers jammed the lines at the state’s 32 Tejano radio stations, most of which were alternating coverage of the shooting with Selena music ‘marathons.’” 

About 600 family members and close friends were at Selena’s funeral and grave site in the Living Lord section of Seaside Memorial Park in Corpus Christi, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times — just a few days after her death in April 1995. The news outlet reported Selena’s grave was covered with white roses — her favorite flower. The service was closed to the public.

More than 60,000 people also reportedly attended Selena’s official public memorial in April 1995, according to People magazine. Fans were asked to bring a white rose with them in honor of the singer. 

RELATED: Tejano Singer Selena Quintanilla's Legacy Endures Through Her Music and Fashion

Memorials to the Late Star

Selena was a superstar before her death and often described as the Madonna of the Mexican-American music world, The New York Times reported. She had won a Grammy award for Best Mexican-American Album for her Selena Live in 1994, and her recording “Amor Prohibido (Forbidden Love)” had sold 400,000 copies in the U.S., according to the Times

The year she died, she participated in one of 20 performances at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, along with other notable artists. Still, the show said Selena was the largest-selling concert, and she performed in front of 61,041 in the Astrodome, The Times said. 

Her popularity and legacy lived on after her death. Tejano music station KQQK in Houston said their switchboard was overwhelmed with calls after her murder was announced.

“Basically, they are just in awe,” Maria Aguirre, reception at the station, told the Times. “They cannot believe it happened. They’re calling to reconfirm. It’s almost like the feeling when John Lennon died. She was the queen of Tejano.” 

Her legacy was immortalized by the release of an English-language album, Dreaming of You, that she recorded before her death but wasn’t released until after her death.

Selena Quintanilla featured on Selena and Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them

Selena went on to win awards even after her death. She was named best female vocalist as a teenager at the Tejano Music Awards twice posthumously, according to Time magazine. 

Several murals were painted for Selena in San Antonio, according to NBC station News4SA, some along highways, and others along shopping centers. 

Selena was immortalized forever with a life-size bronze statue in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1997, Billboard said, called “Mirador de la Flor (viewpoint of the flower)." The Quintanilla family also opened the Selena Museum in Corpus Christi in 1998 to showcase her awards, concert outfits and other memorabilia.

And Selena’s influence even extends to the beauty realm, with Mac Cosmetics releasing two Selena collections in collaboration with her sister, Suzette Quintanilla. The second collection came out in 2022 and included lipsticks with shades like "La Reina" and "Queen of Cumbia."

Then, in April 2022, nearly 27 years after her slaying, a new Selena album was released. Named Moonchild Mixes, the album features a mix of previously unreleased songs and remixed versions of past songs, including "Dame tu Amor."

“What amazes me…is that 26 years later the public still remembers Selena,” Abraham Quintanilla, Jr. said in an interview with NPR. “They haven’t let go of her. They’re waiting for a project like this to come out.”