Yolanda Saldívar and the Dark True Story of the Woman Who Killed Selena Quintanilla Perez

By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Dec 06, 2023

On March 31, 1995, Selena Quintanilla, known as the “Queen of Tejano Music,” was murdered by the president of the Selena fan club, Yolanda Saldívar.

Selena Quintanilla’s death sent shockwaves around the world. Only 23 years old and pregnant then, Selena’s rising star was snuffed by an angry fan. But who is Yolanda Saldívar, and what happened to her after she murdered Selena? Let’s get into it.

Who Is Yolanda Saldívar?

Yolanda Saldívar’s date of birth is Sept. 19, 1960. She was born in San Antonio, Texas, to Frank and Juanita Saldívar. She is one of seven children born.

Selena and Yolanda Saldívar posing for a photo

Source: Instagram/@loveselena95

Who is Yolanda Saldívar’s husband? Unfortunately, Saldívar never married. Her closest and known relatives are her parents and siblings. Saldívar’s mother would eventually establish the Selena Foundation, which offers scholarships to Hispanic students.

How Was Yolanda Saldívar Connected to Selena? 

Yolanda Saldívar was a fan of country music. After attending one of Selena’s concerts, she began to contact Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father, about starting a fan club in San Antonio. With Quintanilla’s permission, Saldivar immediately became the club’s president.

Selena hugging Yolanda at an event

Source: Instagram/@selenaquintanillaetc

Saldívar was known as Selena’s “number-one fan” who seemingly rearranged her life to be closer to the singer. After running the fan club, Saldívar was promoted to managing the singer’s boutiques in Texas.

Yolanda Saldívar Gets Closer to Selena

Selena was often protective over Yolanda Saldivar but was unaware of the fan’s intentions. Martin Gomez, a fashion designer for Selena’s boutiques, shared an office with Saldivar and noted instances of sudden spending, which fed into the incident that would remove Saldivar from Selena.

Yolanda Saldivar with Selena

Source: AP/Shutterstock

Saldivar was described to be openly hostile to those she viewed as competitors for Selena’s attention. Saldívar was also alleged to have a shrine dedicated to the singer inside her home (via All That’s Interesting).

What Happened to Selena?

After a two-day attempt to keep Selena at her side after the singer had come to retrieve remaining business documents, Yolanda Saldivar shot Selena in a Days Inn motel room in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 31, 1995.

Days Inn motel at night

Source: Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr

A hotel staffer named Trinidad Espinoza witnessed Selena, dressed in a jogging suit, run out of the room. When the singer reached the lobby of the motel, she slowly collapsed on the floor. The bullet wound in her back had severed an artery. Selena Quintanilla died shortly after the shooting from a loss of blood, just two weeks shy of her 24th birthday.

How Long Was Yolanda Saldívar’s Standoff With Police?

Yolanda Saldívar quickly locked herself away in her pickup truck in the Days Inn motel parking lot before police arrived to arrest her. Threatening to commit suicide, Saldívar’s standoff with police lasted for approximately nine and a half hours.

Yolanda Saldivar in handcuffs

Source: KSAT 12 via X

Police negotiators spent hours trying to persuade Saldívar to surrender, and she eventually gave up her weapon around 9:30 p.m. that night.


Why Did Yolanda Saldívar Kill Selena?

Yolanda Saldívar maintains her innocence by claiming that the murder was a horrible accident. Saldivar told police (via The Los Angeles Times), “She told me: ‘Yolanda, I don’t want you to kill yourself.’ She opened the door. When I told her to close it, the gun went off.”

Yolanda Saldivar in a red suite jacket

Source: 20/20 News via YouTube

Defense attorneys argued that the shooting was accidental during Saldívar’s trial, but the prosecution countered the argument, stating that Saldívar was a trained nurse who did nothing to help Selena after she was shot. Selena’s family and friends believe that Selena’s murderer, Yolanda Saldívar, premeditated the crime.


What Happened to Yolanda Saldívar? 

After jurors deliberated for less than three hours, the then 34-year-old Yolanda Saldívar was charged with a life sentence for first-degree murder on Oct. 23, 1995.

Courtroom in the Sam B. Hall, Jr. Federal Building, Marshall, Texas

Source: Library of Congress/GetArchive

Yolanda Saldívar has been serving her sentence at the Mountain View Unit, a maximum-security women’s prison in Gatesville, Texas. To this day, Saldívar continues to state that she never wanted to be the killer of Selena Quintanilla.


Where Is Yolanda Saldívar Now?

Saldívar, who is now 62 years old, has been serving a life sentence since 1995. She will be eligible for parole in 2025.

Inmates at Mountain View Unit listening to an instructor

Source: TDCJ via X

According to Yolanda Saldívar’s family members, she is a “different person” after spending nearly half of her life behind bars. Saldívar has expressed remorse for killing Selena and hopes that she can reconnect with her family and friends once she gets out of prison.


When Is Yolanda Saldívar’s Release Date?

When is Yolanda Saldívar getting released? No one knows currently if Saldívar will be released from prison. However, she is eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.

Grayscale photo of Yolanda Saldivar in court

Source: AP Photo/Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Tom Fox

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles will review her case and consider several factors, such as her behavior in prison, her criminal history, her psychological evaluation, and the impact of her crime on the victim’s family and society.


Selena’s Family Speak Against Yolanda Saldívar’s Release

Selena’s fans and family have been vocal about their opposition to Yolanda Saldívar’s parole. In an interview with MSN, Selena’s father Abraham Quintanilla Jr. said he hopes Saldívar remains in prison for the rest of her life. “I don’t think she should ever get out. She took away something very precious from us,” Quintanilla said.

Family of tejano singer Selena who was killed by her former fan club pres. Yolanda Saldivar: mother Marcela Quintanilla (2L), husband Chris Perez (3L) & sister Suzette (2R) laying roses atop casket at her funeral.

Source: Barbara Laing/Getty Images)

Quintanilla firmly believes that Saldívar killed Selena intentionally, stating that “She’s a liar” and that he doesn’t believe anything she says.


How Old Would Selena Quintanilla be in 2023?

Selena Quintanilla, who was born on April 16, 1971, would have been 52 years old if she were still alive today.

Selena live in concert in 1994.

Source: hellboy_93/Flickr

Selena’s legacy continues to influence pop culture today. Not only did her music expand the audience for Texan-Mexican music, but her story has been preserved in several television documentaries, a full-length biopic film starring Jennifer Lopez, and countless Latina stars who have dedicated covers of Selena’s songs in her memory.