Selena Quintanilla’s career was tragically cut off just before she broke big. She’d just earned her first Grammy, and was the first Tejano artist to do so. Her Spanish-language albums were massive. Everyone knew she was recording her first English-language album; it was anticipated that her breakthrough would open the door for hundreds of Latin American artists in America. And then her life was ended by the woman who claimed to be her biggest fan. So, where is Yolanda Saldívar now?
Yolanda Saldívar barely appears in Part 1 of Selena: The Series. Her appearance is relegated to the season’s final episode, when Papa Abraham hands off a card with the woman’s phone number to Selena’s older sister, Suzette. "This woman wants to run Selena’s fan club," he tells Suzette. When she raises alarm bells at someone offering to do something like this for free, he scoffs at her concerns. "We need the help… Handle it."
Of course, the irony is that this comes just as Abraham kicks Chris Perez out of the band. Chris and Selena were already romantically involved, and her father insists he is doing it to keep Selena on track, to keep her safe. Unfortunately, the real danger was just beginning.
Nowadays, the idea that fandom can be dangerous is well understood. But back in the pre-internet era, fans were mostly regarded as harmless people who were just very passionate about what (and who) they loved. That Yolanda Saldívar, a nurse who was eager to lend her time to Selena, was willing to uproot her entire life for Selena, that her apartment was a shrine to the pop star, apparently did not raise alarm bells at the time. In fact, her dedication seemingly impressed the Quintanilla family, and they trusted Saldívar. By 1994, she was running a pair of newly-opened, Selena-themed boutiques.
In a 1995 article after Selena’s death, friends said they tried to warn the family that Saldívar’s behavior had grown increasingly disturbing. She would reportedly gaslight employees, half-finished merchandise would get mysteriously destroyed, and orders began going unfulfilled. According to reports, when Abraham Quintanilla finally looked into it in March of 1995, he accused Saldívar of embezzling both from the stores and the fan club.
Quintanilla reportedly gave her a chance to put things right, but instead, Saldívar purchased a gun, convinced Selena to meet with her, and on March 31, shot the singer in a motel room. Selena was dead by the time she reached the hospital.
Saldívar said the shooting was an accident, that she was going to shoot herself, and as Selena talked her down, the gun went off. A jury was not convinced by this story, though; in 1995, Saldívar was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Saldívar is currently still serving that life sentence in the maximum-security women’s prison Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas.
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