It’s one of the most talked about crimes in US history. Lyle and Erik Menendez are the Beverly Hills brothers who tragically murdered their parents inside their home in 1989. It’s been decades since the gruesome killings, and Lyle is finally ready to talk about the night that changed his life. Here’s 5 things you should know about the brothers.
In 1989, Lyle, 48, and Erik, 45, Menendez, shot their parents, Jose and Kitty inside their Beverly Hills mansion, multiple times. Little did they know at the time, their vicious act would be one of the most talked about murder trials in US history. Lyle was 21 at the time, and Erik was 18.
After Lyle frantically called 911 to report the horrific killings on a Sunday night in August 1989, police didn’t even consider that they could have killed their own parents. Now, about 20 years since the brothers were convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison without parole, in March 1996, the case is still making waves in Hollywood. The reason? — Lyle decided to finally speak out after serving 26 years of his life sentence behind bars. Now, ABC will air a special tonight, Jan. 5, titled Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers. Here’s everything you should know about the brothers.
1. Lyle and Erik Menendez came from a wealthy family.
The brothers lived a privileged life in Beverly Hills, CA with their parents, Jose, who was a top Hollywood executive, and their mother, Kitty, who was a former beauty queen, homemaker, and socialite. The brothers described their father as a mean man. He was said to have been very strict, and had insane expectations of his sons, who typically rebelled. The brothers were said to be poor in school, and they even committed burglaries in homes around the 90210, that their father was furious about, as reported by Rolling Stone.
2. On August 20, 1989, the brothers shot their parents inside their Beverly Hills home, and then tried to create an alibi right after.
Lyle and Erik shot Jose and Kitty inside their home on a Sunday in 1989 while they were in the den. Jose was reportedly found sitting up. He had been shot point-blank range in the head, according to multiple reports. Kitty was reportedly at his feet, having been shot several times, in the chest, arm and face. Both parents were said to be shot in the kneecaps so the murder would appear to be gang related.
Lyle and Erik reportedly left their home after killing their parents and bought movie tickets to create an alibi, according to multiple reports. Then, they apparently met with a friend, and didn’t return until hours later, where they called 911 screaming that “someone” shot and killed their parents.
3. Police became suspicious of the brothers when they started to spend thousands of dollars after the murders.
Lyle and Erik went on a spending spree after they killed their parents. The brothers, who inherited their father’s millions of dollars spent between $500,000 and $700,000, according to reports. They bought lavish things, like a Porsche and a Rolex, among other things, which fueled the skepticism that police had already been investigating.
4. Police did not suspect the brothers at first…
In fact, when arriving to the crime scene, police didn’t even test the brothers’ hands or clothes for gunshot residue. The guns they used to kill their parents were reportedly sitting inside their cars, but police apparently didn’t even look inside. They felt sympathy toward the boys since their parents were just murdered, and their tears and hysterical actions seemed more than believable. It was reported that police didn’t even question the brothers about the murder until two months after the gruesome attack happened.
5. Erik and Lyle confessed to the murder to their therapist.
Erik was apparently struggling with emotions in the aftermath of the killings. He reportedly confided in Craig Cignarelli, that he and his brother killed his parents, according to Rolling Stone. Then, Erik met with Beverly Hills psychologist L. Jerome Oziel in Oct. 1989 and confessed once again, to the murders. Upon finding out what Erik had done, Lyle threatened to kill Oziel if he reported their confession to police, Rolling Stone reported. That, however, worked against him in the end.
Oziel apparently had a mistress named Judalon Smyth. She was said to be listening from the waiting room and heard the entire confession from the both brothers. Judalon recorded Erik and Lyle admitting to the murders of their parents, and Lyle was arrested seven months after Jose and Kitty’s deaths, as reported by the site. Erik reportedly turned himself in upon returning from a tennis event in Israel just three days later.
Their first double-murder trial was televised, which launched it the case to extreme popularity. It took a second trial to convict the brothers. Part of their defense was that their father abused them physically and sexually, however, they were both found guilty.
Today, Lyle and Erik are serving life in prison, and will never meet again, if the prison system has its way. They are serving time in different prisons in California. Erik is in Mule Creek State Prison and Lyle is in LA county jail, according to Today. Both brothers married while in prison, and continue to write letters to each other.
ABC’s special, Truth and Lies: The Menendez Brothers airs tonight, Jan. 5 at 9/8 c.
HollywoodLifers, are you shocked over the details of the Menendez murder?