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 Jose E. Menendez

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Jose E. Menendez

  • Birth 6 May 1944 Havana, La Habana, Cuba
  • Death 20 Aug 1989 Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Burial Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, USA
  • Memorial ID 1152

Murder Victim. While watching television with his wife, Kitty, they were murdered in the living room of their Beverly Hills home by their sons, Erik Galen and Joseph Lyle Menendez. Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1944, the youngest son of three children to an upper-middle class family, his father was a popular soccer player who owned his own accounting firm, while his mother was a swimmer who was elected to Cuba's Sports Hall of Fame. Although not considered wealthy, his parents were well regarded in the pre-Castro Cuban society. When Castro came into power in 1959, the Menendez family decided to leave Cuba for the United States, and a year later, they emigrated to Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where Jose studied in high school, and excelled in athletics. In his senior year of high school, Jose won a four year scholarship in swimming to Southern Illinois University. In his freshman year at SIU, Jose met SIU senior Mary Louise "Kitty" Andersen. They soon fell in love, and following Kitty's graduation from SIU with a BS Degree in Communications, they moved to New York City, where Jose obtained an athletic scholarship from Queens College. Over the next twenty years, Jose would work in the film industry in Princeton, New Jersey, where his two sons, Joseph and Erik, were born, and then in California, where he joined the Carolco Film Company. The Menendezes were killed in the early evening of August 20, 1989, in their home while watching television. Their two adult sons, who were home from college during summer break, were supposedly out at a movie. As police reconstructed the crime scene, Jose was hit in the back of the head from a 12-gauge shotgun, killing him instantly. Kitty got up and ran for her life, getting hit several times, but not fatally. Running out of ammunition, the boys went back to the car to reload, then returned to the living room where they fired a total of ten shots into their mother, including one at point blank range against her face. The two boys then left to watch the James Bond movie, "License to Kill," and called the police when they returned home to report finding their parents dead. Initially police thought the two sons innocent and searched for other killers. As a wealthy executive for the Carolco Film Company, Jose was reportedly not well liked by his co-workers, and when his death was first reported, many of his fellow workers believed the initial reports that it was a mob hit. Upset about his part in the killings, Erik would later confess to a friend about the murders, and then told his therapist, Dr. Jerome Oziel, who taped their conversation. Dr. Oziel mentioned the murders and tapes to his girlfriend. Later, after having a fight with him, Oziel's unidentified girlfriend stole the tapes and gave them to police in an attempt to get Oziel in trouble for concealing a crime. After their arrests, the two young men claimed that their parents sexually abused them, and to escape the abuse, the boys killed them. Police found evidence that indicated both Joseph and Erik wanted their inheritance, estimated to be several million dollars, and decided to kill their parents to get it. In the first six months following their parents' deaths, the two men spent over $1 million in a wild spending spree. Following their conviction for premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit murder, both men were given consecutive life sentences without benefit of parole, and both men will spend the remainder of their lives in prison. As of 2007, Joseph is serving his sentence in Mule Creek State Prison while Erik is in Pleasant Valley State Prison.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1152
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jose E. Menendez (6 May 1944–20 Aug 1989), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1152, citing Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .