The Menendez brothers case is a particularly debated and still talked about issue today. An event that occurred in the late 80s, with a series of twists and turns that shocked public opinion. A story that will also be told in the second chapter of the Monsters saga, directed by Ryan Murphy and due to be released on Netflix in 2024.
The true story of the Menendez brothers
1989, Beverly Hills. This is where the true story of the Menendez brothers begins: a wealthy family composed of spouses José and Mary and their sons Lyle (21 years old) and Erik (18 years old).
Externally, the image of a perfect family unit, which in some way represents the American dream. José, of Cuban origin, emigrated to the United States as a young man and built himself up. Starting from scratch, he managed to become a successful entrepreneur, even rising to the top of a major record label. During his years of study, he met Mary, a beauty queen. Their relationship led to marriage, and they gave birth to two male children. The offspring seems to have been raised with the same work ethic as their father and a propensity for sports, particularly tennis, where both excel in their abilities.
A splendid family situation, at least on the surface. Until that August 20, 1989.
Double murder at home
It is night when the 911 receives a call. On the other end of the line is a person in a state of agitation:
″Beverly Hills emergency.″
″Some …″ (sobbing)
″What’s the problem? What’s the problem? What’s the problem?″
″Somebody killed my parents.″
″Somebody killed my parents.″
″What – who? Are they still there?″
″The people who killed them?″
″No, no, no.″
″Were they shot?″
″What happened? Have you been able to figure out what happened?″
″Who shot who?″
″I don’t know. I came home and found them.″
″You came home and found who shot?″
″My mom and dad.″
The ones calling are the Menendez brothers. The ambulance and the police arrive on the scene, finding themselves facing a terrifying sight. The bodies of José and Mary lie lifeless inside the house, surrounded by a pool of blood. They were killed by gunshots. José was hit by 5 shots, while Mary was riddled with 10.
A particularly bloody crime scene that raises big question marks in the eyes of investigators: who is the author of this massacre and why did they commit such an act? What’s the true story that happened in the house of the Menendez brothers?
In the early hours, the agents try to gather information from the children, who seem rather shocked. They tell of having gone out that evening to go to the cinema and upon returning home, they discovered the tortured corpses of their parents.
Investigators begin to explore all the leads, suspecting that the double homicide was committed by organized crime. However, there is something that doesn’t add up in the subsequent behavior of Lyle and Erik, which sets off an alarm bell among investigators.
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Four days after the brutal murder of their parents, Lyle spent $15,000 to buy three Rolex watches. The brothers began to lead a particular lifestyle, staying in luxury hotels and renting condos in Marina Del Rey. Erik started gambling and hired a tennis coach for $60,000 a year. Lyle hired bodyguards, bought a Porsche, and a restaurant.
However, despite suspicions, nothing else emerged. Charges must be based on evidence, and there was no evidence to proceed against them.
After seven months, the investigation reached a turning point.
During a session with his therapist, Erik confessed to killing his parents with his brother. He told the psychologist the details of the episode. The therapist’s lover also became aware of these statements and went to the police.
On March 8, 1990, the two brothers were arrested.
The case seemed closed, and from the perspective of finding the culprit, it certainly was. The motive also appeared clear, considering what the sons did after the parents’ death; it seems that the double murder was committed to collect the inheritance. However, during the trial, unexpected scenarios began to emerge, which would become the subject of discussion in the following years.
Murderers of victims?
The trial began in 1993. The testimonies of the two brothers leave everyone speechless.
“What do you believe was the originating cause of you and your brother ultimately winding up shooting your parents?”
Erik Menendez: “My dad had been molesting me.”
Lyle Menendez: “Just in the bedroom, we`d have what we called object sessions, and just slide my pants down or take my pants off. Sometimes it would be for a short period of time, sometimes longer. Lay me on the bed, and he`d have a tube of Vaseline and he just played with me.
I just told him that I didn`t want to do this and that it hurt me. And he said he didn`t mean to hurt me and he loved me.”
“What did you say to your mom?”
Lyle Menendez: “I told her to tell dad to leave me alone, and he keeps touching me.”
“What did your mom say?”
Lyle Menendez: “She told me to stop it and that I was exaggerating and that my dad has to punish me when I do things wrong.”
“Did you continue to sleep in your mother’s bed when you were 11-12?”
Lyle Menendez: “Sometimes.”
“Did you touch your mother?”
Lyle Menendez: “Yes”
“And where did you touch it?”
Lyle Menendez: “Everywhere”
“Did she touch you?”
Lyle Menendez: “She kissed me but she didn’t touch me.”
Erik and Lyle Menendez continued to tell the true story of the physical and psychological abuse by their parents. In court, photos taken by their father that portray the children from the waist down are shown, as if specifically framing their genitals. This scenario completely overturns the initial impression of the nature of this double homicide. Are the Menendez brothers actually victims who, in desperation, committed an extreme act?
The first trial concluded after six months with no decision; the jury was unable to determine whether Lyle and Erik acted to collect their inheritance or to put an end to the alleged abuse.
A second trial was necessary, which began in 1995. On March 21, 1996, the defendants were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Ultimately, the jury supported the prosecution’s theory that it was a double murder for financial gain.
Today, Lyle and Erik Menendez are incarcerated in the same prison in San Diego. During their time in prison, they have both married and consistently maintained that they told the truth during the trial.
The story of why Lyle and Erik Menendez killed their parents is still heavily debated, with many people taking an interest in the case and forming their own opinions. Some believe that it was done for financial reasons and thus support the conviction, while others were particularly struck by the Menendez brothers’ testimony during the trial and believe that a review of the case is warranted.
We leave it up to the reader to form their own opinion. We include this video, which contains excerpts from their statements during the trial. For those who wish to delve deeper, full depositions from the first trial recorded by CourtTV are available on YouTube.
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