Look Back at Selena Quintanilla's Death 26 Years Ago — from a Fan's Fatal Shooting & Funeral

Jené Liebenberg
Apr 01, 2021
11:30 A.M.
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The Queen of Tejano died on March 31, 1995, after she was murdered by her close friend and business associate only days before her 24th birthday. 


The story of Selena Quintanilla's death rocked the world of her closest family and friends and also hugely impacted her large fanbase. 26 years later, the Tejano star's murder remains heartbreaking to those who keep her memory alive. 

March 31 is a day that brings up the raw and devastating emotions surrounding the loss of Quintanilla at the young age of 23. Her legacy lives on through the award-winning music that has allowed her to remain alive as an artist. 

Selena Quintanilla receives Grammy Award at The 36th Annual Grammy Awards on March 1, 1994 | Getty Images



A few days before her 24th birthday, Quintanilla was shot by Yolanda Saldívar. Saldívar was the president of the singer's fan club, a close friend and business partner who morphed into a possessive murderer who took the life of Quintanilla. 

When the Tejano artist confronted Saldívar for embezzling funds from her business in her room at Days Inn Motel, the 32-year-old pulled out the gun that killed Quintanilla. The murder left the singer's family distraught, with her father saying

"My mind's been going a hundred miles an hour since this happened, and I just keep replaying the same thing over and over in my head."



Saldívar was found locked in her car when authorities arrived at the scene of the murder with the gun pressed against her head. The 32-year-old was arrested after a ten-hour-long showdown outside the hotel. 

A battle over her estate between her father and her husband, Chris Pérez, formed in the wake of their loss. 


Saldívar pleaded not guilty when she appeared in front of the jury, saying that the gun was fired accidentally. Despite her innocent stance, the woman was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. 



When news of the singer's death spread across the country, tens of thousands of fans journeyed to be able to attend her funeral and pay their respects to the beloved Queen of Tejano. 

Quintanilla's coffin lay at the Bayfront Plaza Convention Center. Fans flocked to the center at 50 people a minute, making a total of between 30 000 and 40 000 people who viewed the singer at her funeral. Lieut. A. Guerrero from the local authorities shared

"People started lining up at 4 A.M. ,and it's been a steady stream ever since. I've talked to people from San Francisco, Miami and Mexico City."



The family decided to restrict fans from attending the burial, but over 600 people still attending the service. Quintanilla's coffin was buried in more than 8000 white flowers before it was lowered into the ground and buried with the ground. 

The young Hispanic woman's reach and influence in the Mexican-American community were evident as the number of people who showed up at her funeral attests to the impact that she had on the lives of those in her community. 


Unfortunately, unity between those that Quintanilla left behind did not ensue after her death as a battle over her estate between her father and her husband, Chris Pérez, formed in the wake of their loss. 

The rights to the royalties on the singer's music that still rolls in would have gone to her widower had he not signed a document presented by his father-in-law while he was still in the depth of mourning. Pérez now only receives 25% of the profit.