Selena: A Star Dies in Texas

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Rudy TreviñoRudy Treviño is a sixth-generation Texan and award-winning news anchor for Kiii-TV. Rudy has worked as a reporter and news anchor for several stations in Texas and California, where he earned several Associated Press Broadcast Awards, California Chicano News Media Awards and two Emmy Awards for his live coverage of the Los Angeles riots and the San Francisco earthquake.

Selena: A Star Dies in Texas

Twenty-five years ago, Selena Quintanilla-Perez was already a legend in the Tejano music world and on the verge of superstardom. But on March 31, 1995, Selena's close friend Yolanda Saldivar pulled a gun from her purse and fired a single bullet. Selena was pronounced dead a short time later.

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Episode 2 | March 31, 1995

Selena agrees to meet with her embattled fan club president at a hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas. It's a day Selena's fans will never forget. Read the Full Transcript »

 IT’S MONDAY, MARCH 31, 1995. 

FOR YOLANDA SALDIVAR, THE PAST FEW WEEKS HAVE BEEN TRYING AS HER BOND WITH SELENA AND THE SINGER’S FAMILY SEEMS TO BE UNRAVELING.  THEY’VE ALREADY CONFRONTED HER AT LEAST ONCE ABOUT MISSING FAN CLUB MONEY.

PERHAPS THE STRAIN IS GETTING TO 34-YEAR OLD YOLANDA.  

THE DAY BEFORE, MARCH 30TH, SHE RETURNED TO TEXAS WITH SELENA AFTER A TRIP TO MONTEREY, MEXICO.  YOLANDA’S SISTER ELIDA EXPLAINS SHE WAS THERE TO HELP SELENA OPEN ANOTHER BOUTIQUE:

"Yolanda was trying to help Selena open her boutique. She would tell her, you know, Selena, this is wrong, this is right... she was advising her, you know, her. She was standing to look out, you know, the people who were working for her." 

AND ON THIS MONDAY MORNING SELENA IS PLANNING TO MEET WITH YOLANDA AT THE HOTEL WHERE SHE’S STAYING IN CORPUS CHRISTI.  

YOLANDA’S PROMISED TO SHARE FINANCIAL RECORDS THAT WILL PROVE THERE’S NOTHING FUNNY GOING ON...THE MONEY’S ALL THERE.  

BUT SOMETHING ELSE IS GOING ON….YOLANDA TELLS SELENA SHE’D BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED IN MEXICO BEFORE RETURNING HOME.  YOLANDA’S SISTER REMEMBERS GETTING A CALL FROM HER THAT MORNING: 

"She called us that day in the morning, March 31st at 8 o'clock or 9 o'clock in the morning, and she called us and she said, uh, 'I need to tell y'all something,' and said, 'Oh, wait a minute, Selena's coming... I'll call you back. I'll call you back.' And then she didn't call us back. But I guess that's what she was trying to tell us, that she was beaten up and that Selena was going to take her to the doctor." 

INSTEAD OF TALKING ABOUT FINANCIAL ISSUES, SELENA TAKES YOLANDA TO A CORPUS CHRISTI HOSPITAL FOR MEDICAL CARE…MONTHS LATER, IN COURT, A NURSE  WOULD TESTIFY ABOUT SEEING YOLANDA AND SELENA THAT MORNING:

"Patricia Biggs said Selena had brought Saldivar to the emergency room the morning of the murder and that Selena told her, Saldivar had been raped in Mexico. But Biggs testified: 'I didn't see any evidence to indicate she had been assaulted.'" 

SELENA AND YOLANDA RETURN TO THE DAYS INN...

AND BACK IN YOLANDA’S ROOM - ROOM 158, SELENA FINALLY BRINGS UP THE MISSING MONEY.  IT’S JUST THE TWO OF THEM…AND NO ONE CAN SAY - EXCEPT YOLANDA - EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED IN THAT ROOM.  

BUT HOTEL WORKERS SOON HEAR GUNSHOTS...FOLLOWED BY A SCENE THEY’LL NEVER FORGET.  THE FIRST CALLS TO 911 START TO COME IN:  

"911, what is your location?"

"Uh, Days Inn motel. It's 901 Navigation Boulevard."

"What's wrong ma'am?"

"We have a woman ran in the lobby, says she's been shot. She's laying on the floor and there's blood." 

"OK. How old is she?"

"She looks about 20..." 

"She's in the lobby right now?"

"Yes, ma'am. She just passed out." 

"OK... you don't know anything else about who might have done it or anything like that?" 

"It's another lady. That's all I know. We're trying to find out." 

"OK, ma'am. Thank you." 

ANOTHER CALL COMES IN...THIS TIME WITH MORE DETAILS - DETAILS ABOUT THE SHOOTER:

"911 emergency..."

"Uh, we need a police, someone's been shot over here at Navigation Days Inn." 

"At Days Inn?"

"Yes... uh, the lady in 158 shot the lady over here."

"OK, is the lady in 158 still there?"

"I don't know. They shot somebody; she's taking off." 

"What does she look like?" 

"Her name? (yes) Yolanda..."

"Yolanda?"

"Uh-huh"

"She's the suspect?"

"Yes, ma'am" 

"What's her last name?"

"S-A-L-D-I-V-A-R"

"S-A-L-D?"

"Uh-huh... she's with Selena Incorporated, the lady from, uh, the singer." 

NOT ALL OF THEIR STORIES ARE EXACTLY THE SAME.  YOU CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO SEE AND HEAR WHAT THEY SAW...AND TO REALIZE WHO WAS LYING IN THAT DAYS INN LOBBY WITH A GUNSHOT WOUND.  

DAYS INN HOUSEKEEPER ROSE GARZA LATER TELLS REPORTERS WHAT SHE SAW AND HEARD THAT MARCH MORNING:  

"Well, when I saw the lady shooting at her I went into like a shock. I didn't know whether to yell or just hide. So, I just shut the door and called the front office and asked for help. There were two shots and the first one was more like a car crash or something. So, I ignored it because the hotel was near the freeway. And the second time, that's when I heard her asking for help."

THE DETAILS OF WHAT HAPPENED MINUTES EARLIER IN ROOM 158 - AND WHAT FOLLOWED - WILL BE EXAMINED AND REEXAMINED AGAIN AND AGAIN IN COMING MONTHS AND YEARS.  

BUT SEVERAL HOTEL EMPLOYEES DO SHARE A SIMILAR STORY...SELENA RUNNING INTO THE LOBBY AND YOLANDA CLOSE BEHIND WITH A GUN - A 38 CALIBER SNUB-NOSE PISTOL:

"I saw Yolanda running after her. You know, but I didn't thought it was Selena until she was in the floor. Uh, Yolanda? She just like, like ignored, like if nothing had happened. She turned around; she went back into the room and she was out standing in the room, just swinging the gun." 

FOR NOW, WHAT IS CLEAR, IS THAT SELENA IS FIGHTING FOR LIFE.   

THE BULLET ENTERED THE UPPER RIGHT OF SELENA’S BACK AND EXITED THE FRONT OF HER BODY.  

IT’S CLEAR SHE’S LOSING A LOT OF BLOOD...POLICE AND PARAMEDICS ARRIVE ON THE SCENE...SELENA IS RUSHED INTO AN AMBULANCE.  

(PARAMEDIC REPORT) 

POLICE PULL TOGETHER INITIAL WITNESS REPORTS AND START PUTTING TOGETHER A PICTURE OF WHAT’S HAPPENED:

"We don't know exactly, but it probably started in or near a room in the motel and evolved into the parking lot. And then, the victim collapsed in the lobby of the hotel."

AND AS SELENA IS RUSHED TO THE HOSPITAL, YOLANDA TAKES REFUGE NEARBY.

REFUGE FROM POLICE....AND FROM THE REALITY OF WHAT SHE’S DONE. 

SHE DRIVES A RED GMC PICKUP TRUCK TO THE NORTH PARKING LOT AND STOPS...NOT FAR FROM THE DAYS INN REGISTRATION LOBBY. 

SITTING INSIDE THE CAB OF THAT TRUCK...YOLANDA HOLDS THE GUN THAT SHE FIRED AT SELENA.  OFTEN WAVING IT IN THE AIR AND AIMING IT AT HER HEAD….AS POLICE AND SWAT OFFICERS LOOK ON...FROM A DISTANCE...READY TO MOVE IN.

BUT YOLANDA ISN’T MOVING...SHE STAYS IN THE TRUCK.   

((INSERT RON TREVINO))

ON THE OTHER END OF THE PHONE LINE, TALKING TO THE DISTRAUGHT AND HOPELESS YOLANDA SALDIVAR, IS VETERAN CORPUS CHRISTI POLICE SERGEANT LARRY YOUNG…

FOR HOURS AND HOURS, HE TELLS YOLANDA TO PUT DOWN THE GUN.  TO SURRENDER.

"You know, it takes a strong person to go through something traumatic in their life, and then to make a decision--a decision that would change their life again back to the positive things... (Yolanda crying: 'I have no dignity.') You will have dignity when you put that gun down, you will see that you will, you will be reborn again--when you put that gun on the floor of that truck, you have made up your mind that life is worth living. You have made up your mind to do the right thing for yourself and your family and your friends. You have dignity ('no, I don't.') People respect decisions like that." 

BUT THAT MARCH DAY DRAGS ON….AND YOLANDA STAYS PUT.  

AND GRADUALLY, AS THE STANDOFF CONTINUES, THE NEWS STARTS TO SPREAD:  SELENA, THE TEJANO SUPERSTAR, HAS BEEN KILLED.  MURDERED, BY THE PRESIDENT OF HER FANCLUB.

SARAH LUCERO WAS A REPORTER WORKING IN A LOCAL UNIVISION STATION IN SAN ANTONIO WHEN THE NEWS STARTED TO SPREAD:

"Sitting there, we heard across the radios, the police radios and scanners, there was something that came across that Selena had been shot--Selena, the Tejano star, had been shot at a hotel in Corpus Christi. And we were like, 'What?! At a motel, a motel? What is she doing at a motel? I mean, they've gotta have the wrong person.' I mean, we were just like, I think the newsroom was like in denial, skeptical, suspicious. 'Who are they talking... they can't possibly be talking about Selena Quintanilla. I mean, please.'"

"KSAB-Tejano 99.9 FM, Corpus Christi, paying tribute to one of Tejano music's biggest stars, also biggest stars in the international markets, Selena Quintanilla--and what a tragedy it is today. As you may have heard, Selena passed away earlier on this day due to a gunshot wound and just a big tragedy and, uh, to Tejano music and all around the world and international music, it's just a big blow." 

"We had already sent two reporters down to Corpus Christi to gather the real facts and to try find out what happened and interview the detectives and police who were on the scene and see who was there and see if it was true. Was Selena dead? I mean, could it happen just like that? I mean, it was like she was, like, it wasn't she was shot and injured. It was she was just shot dead."

"And you know it puzzles me how, how someone can go and shoot someone... I mean what goes through their mind when they do this? You know, especially a person like Selena, who's helped out the community. Apparently, this is unconfirmed, but the person who shot Selena had been her president here in Corpus Christi, the Selena fan club president. And was hired by Selena to run one of her stores, one of her clothing stores. And I just don't understand what happened, but you know, at an early age, 23 years old and she had so much to go."

"And so then later we would find out that she was in fact killed and the story grew even more and more strange and just weird and bizarre, because how could it have been her assistant, you know, her right-hand person shot her in a motel room. And so there were so many questions about what happened, the conversation, what led to the shooting, why would her confidant and best friend shoot her? The lady that ran her boutique on Broadway... this was just the strangest thing. And I remember, my head was spinning because I just met this woman. I met Yolanda. And I met Selena and I know them and I know both of them. And I mean, how can this be? This is just the strangest thing that, that could happen. It was like a, almost like a Twilight Zone. It was surreal." 

"OK, we've got a caller."

"Yeah, I'd like to pay tribute to Selena..."

"OK."

"I'd like say, coming from a Hispanic background, that Selena, for a woman, she made it really big and really brings to Hispanic women of today, she really made it big... I'd just like to say the sadness that someone that big had to go through something like this."

"Thank you." 

"Thank you."

"Thank you." 

"Yeah, this is James..."

"Yeah, James... you're live on KSAB. Can I help you?"

"Oh, yeah, well um, I knew Selena. She came to our school and sang for us and everything whenever I was in Elementary because I lived in Jackson with her. I just wanted to say that I'm shocked about her death and everything because she really inspired my life because someone like her would come and sing for us, and we're just little kids and everything. And I'd just like to say, I can't believe she's dead."

"Yeah, well, none of us can, James. And thanks for calling all the way from... where are you calling from?" 

"I'm calling from Lockport." 

"Lockport, Texas. Thank you, James."

"Alright, you're welcome." 

AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY THAT DAY, SELENA’S CLOSE FRIENDS AND THOSE IN HER INNER CIRCLE START HEARING THE NEWS.  LIKE JULIE RAMIREZ, THE WOMAN WHO DESIGNED SOME OF SELENA’S MOST ICONIC LOOKS:  

"Where were you when you heard the news that she was killed?"

"In California. I was waiting for her to come over there. She was gonna play at the sports arena. And it was a sold-out show. And I was at a relative's house and I had gone over there to visit with them. And so when they started coming in and some of the cousins started coming in and saying, 'We just heard Selena got shot...' And I called Abraham and I asked him, I said, 'What's going on? What happened? Tell me it's not true.' And he could even talk. He just said, 'It is true. You need to come to Corpus.'

"And as the facts started to come out and details came out of what was happening and what happened in that motel room, you know, it started to sink in and become more real that Selena was, in fact, dead and it looked like it was at the hands of Yolanda Saldivar, who pulled the trigger and shot her. But as far as like, why? And what led up to it and what was the discussion and what were they talking about? What could have made Yolanda snap or become so angry and lose it, that she would shoot her best friend, or shoot the woman that she worked for and admired and, you know, loved and looked up to as a sister, as a daughter... I mean, what would prompt her to shoot Selena?" 

AND BACK OUTSIDE THE DAYS INN, AS THE STANDOFF WITH YOLANDA SALDIVAR GOES ON, FANS AND ONLOOKERS START SHOWING UP:

"Fans have maintained a vigil at the motel throughout the day, apparently hoping to get a glimpse of the woman who gunned down the No. 1 female Tejano artist."

"Why did you decide to come out here today?"

"Big fans of Selena and her group, and also, she... the business that I work at, she used to go at and shop at the mall." 

"It must be a sad day for you." 

"Yeah, I think for all of Corpus Christi, it's very sad." 

HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR LARRY YOUNG LETS YOLANDA KNOW THAT HIS SHIFT IS WINDING DOWN.

"Now, let me tell you something, Yolanda. I've been on the phone for a while talking to you. And I'd like to stay on the phone talking to you, but I'd much rather go out there and talk to you in person. I really would, but my supervisor just got through telling me that, that, uh, he's gonna take me off of the phone. (Yolanda crying) He's gonna take me off the phone here in a few minutes. And, uh, another friend of mine--his name is Isaac, is gonna talk to you on the phone. You know, I wanna ask you again, you know, let me come out there and help you. I really wanna do this." 

OVER AND OVER, AGAIN AND AGAIN, HE TELLS YOLANDA TO PUT THE GUN DOWN.  

HE DOESN’T LET HER KNOW THAT SELENA IS DEAD.  

BUT THEN, WITH RADIO INTERFERENCE BLEEDING THROUGH THE PHONE LINE, YOLANDA HEARS IT HERSELF:

"Cause I just heard on the radio that I killed her!"

"No... I don't know anything about that." 

"I just heard it on the radio!"

"I don't know anything about that... where's this radio at?"

"I don't know!" 

"Is that a real radio?"

"It's the radio on the telephone..." 

"The radio on the telephone?"

"Yes!" 

THE RADIO INTERFERENCE IS CERTAINLY UNPLANNED… THROWING A CURVEBALL INTO A FRAGILE SITUATION… PUSHING YOLANDA CLOSER TO THE BRINK.  

BUT LARRY YOUNG KEEPS GOING… KEEPS TALKING:

"Put the gun back down on the floor, OK? Put the gun on the floor so I can come out there. You need somebody to be with you."

"Oh my God, Larry..."

"You need somebody to be with you. But I'll be with you." 

AS THE TENSE NEGOTIATION CONTINUES, WITH LARRY YOUNG CALMLY OFFERING COMFORT AND URGING YOLANDA TO SURRENDER… YOLANDA SUGGESTS SOMETHING ELSE LED HER TO THE BRINK… ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SELENA’S FATHER, ABRAHAM QUINTANILLA.  

YOLANDA CLAIMS HE THREATENED HER AND PUSHED HER OUT OF THE FAMILY:  

"You don't know what I'm going through, Larry." 

"No, baby, I don't know what you're going through. I can only believe what you're telling me and I do believe with all my heart that this man has been doing you very wrong."

"He pushed me to this..."

"I know, baby... I know he did."

"He pushed me to this." 

"I know he did." 

"He pushed me to this, Larry." 

"But don't let him push you any further." 

YOLANDA GOES ON TO MAKE MORE ALLEGATIONS...ONES THAT WILL COME UP LATER, IN FRONT OF A JURY.

"This man was so evil to me. He was so evil. My father even called me and warned me about that. He said, 'You better get outta there, Yolanda, 'cause this man is gonna trap you, gonna trap you to the point that he's gonna incriminate you, trap you.' I didn't listen to my father and look, look what happened."

"Yolanda, you need to be able to tell people what happened, about Abraham, about the..."

"I can tell these people, but nobody listens to me." 

"Oh, people are going to listen. I'm listening. There are gonna be a lot of people that listen." 

AFTER MANY HOURS, LARRY YOUNG HANDS THE PHONE OFF TO ANOTHER NEGOTIATOR. 

ISAAC VALENCIA TAKES OVER. YOLANDA TELLS HIM IT WAS AN ACCIDENT:  

"I was trying to show her the gun. I was trying to... Selena, I'm gonna kill myself. And then I pulled it out, it just went off because the barrel was bad. I didn't mean to kill her..."

"Look, look at what you're saying... look. Listen to what you just told me. OK? Yolanda... you know, that's the funny thing about guns. They're dangerous and accidents happen." 

"That is exactly why I purchased it, to kill myself. I even told people I was gonna kill myself, not Selena. I didn't think I was kill anybody..." 

"You need to get a grip of yourself. You're doing that right now. Look at that... you just pointed it out to me. You're saying it was an accident? You know, your experience with a gun is almost non-existent. It's easy to see how someone could make a mistake with a gun, an accident. Those things happen. Those, unfortunately, God knows, those things happen. How do we know that the gun, the gun wasn't improperly set? There could be a problem with the gun."  

THE IDEA THAT YOLANDA WAS THREATENING TO KILL HERSELF… WITH SELENA STANDING NEARBY...AND THAT THE GUN WENT OFF ACCIDENTALLY...WILL LATER BY ANALYZED AND DISCUSSED AND ARGUED IN COURT...IN FRONT OF A JUDGE AND A JURY.  

BUT FOR NOW, VALENCIA IS DOING WHATEVER HE CAN TO CONVINCE YOLANDA TO PUT THE GUN DOWN… AND GIVE UP.  

AS DAYLIGHT STARTS TO FADE… YOLANDA STAYS PUT INSIDE THE RED TRUCK.  

THE NEGOTIATION CONTINUES.  

MORE THAN 8 HOURS INTO THE STANDOFF, CORPUS CHRISTI POLICE CHIEF HENRY GARRETT ADDRESSES A CROWD OF REPORTERS:

"Yeah, hi, sorry, bit of a commotion here right now. We have with us the Corpus Christi Police chief. Chief, what is the latest here right now?"

"Less than eight hours or so, we've been negotiating and we will continue to do that..." 

WITH THE TENSE STANDOFF HAPPENING NEARBY, THE CHIEF IS CALM, COMPOSED… TELLING REPORTERS THEY’LL KEEP TALKING TO YOLANDA… DOING WHAT THEY CAN TO BRING SELENA’S KILLER IN PEACEFULLY.

"The negotiator is talking to her. She's continued to talk and we're gonna continue to talk to her and hopefully, we can get to the end of it."

AND THAT’S WHAT THEY DO...THEY KEEP TALKING.  COAXING.  

"You're sitting out there right now, in a lot of pain and a lot of grief--being tested in so many ways, Yolanda. Now's the time to put a stop to it. Now's the time to start that road back. Now's the time to get things straight." 

VALENCIA SHIFTS BACK TO WHAT HAPPENED WHEN THE GUN WENT OFF… TEASING THE IDEA THAT IT WAS AN ACCIDENT… THAT YOLANDA SALDIVAR NEVER MEANT TO KILL HER BEST FRIEND.

"Now's the time to tell your side. If it was an accident, Yolanda, if the gun is faulty, that's a poorly manufactured gun that had some problems with it, now's the time to get to the bottom of that."

PERHAPS IT’S THE PASSING OF HOURS AND THE FATIGUE AND THE EMOTION...BUT THE CONVERSATION SEEMS TO TAKE ON A DIFFERENT TONE.  

"Now's the time to correct what's happened."

IF LARRY YOUNG WAS SOFTER, QUIETER….VALENCIA IS MORE URGENT AND STRIDENT, ALMOST HARSH AT TIMES. 

"I know it's difficult, but you need to start focusing in on what's happening around you, the reality of it. It's time now to wake up. It's time to get back on track."

AND AGAIN, YOLANDA SAYS IT WAS AN ACCIDENT… THAT SELENA TOLD HER NOT TO USE THE GUN ON HERSELF:

"Yolanda, it sounds like there was an accident there. But let me ask you this... it sounds to me like you had made a promise to Selena. A promise that you weren't gonna hurt yourself." 

"Yeah, but I couldn't live with it anymore with her father. I couldn't live with it anymore. I wanted to... I tried and I tried. And it kept going on." 

"OK, Yolanda."

VALENCIA REMINDS YOLANDA WHAT’S SHE’S BEEN SAYING… THAT SHE HAS A STORY TO TELL:  

"You know, obviously, there's been some things going on here, Yolanda. And you need to get to the bottom of it."

"I think nobody's gonna believe me."

"How do you know?"

"Because! I've been trying to tell people since February, nobody listens to me."

"Yolanda, let me put it this way. You said you've been trying... which people have you been trying to tell?" 

"I've been telling Selena! I've been telling her mom! I've been telling everybody! And they don't listen to me!" 

"OK."

"They say I'm lying, I'm lying, I'm lying. (Alright) And this is what ... (crying) this is what it led it to."

"You talk. You say all these people didn't believe. But let me tell you something, there are a lot of other people out there wondering right now... they're all thinking, 'I mean, these things don't just happen. There must be something more to this.'" 

BUT THEN A GLIMMER OF HOPE. YOLANDA SAYS SHE’S READY TO GET OUT:

"I want to talk to Larry 'cause I wanna, I wanna get off the truck."

"Well, now's the time to do it."

"I wanna do it, but I want you to get out there. I want to talk to Larry." 

VALENCIA TELLS HER LARRY CAN COME BACK, BUT ONLY IF SHE COMMITS TO GETTING OUT… TO ENDING THE STANDOFF.  

MORE TIME PASSES.

MORE WORDS OVER THE PHONE LINE.

AND THEN:

"Tell them not to turn them on and I'm coming out..."

"Right now?"

"Right now." 

"Sure... I'm gonna need to tell the lieutenant that. Lieutenant, OK... I'm gonna relay the message to him, OK?"

"Yeah." 

"Hold the line a second while I do that, alright? Just hold the line, alright?" 

"Yolanda?"

"Mm-hmm."

"OK, I got the word. Everything is set. The thing that has to happen, you need to put the gun down on the floorboard and come on out. Now, you know, we've got this to be 7 o'clock. You know, because at 7 o'clock, I can't control the lights coming on, but if you come out before 7, you'll avoid the lights. And Larry can be out there. As a matter of fact, I understand, Larry's moving in that direction now. We're ready to go. Are you ready?" 

"What's gonna happen to me?"

"What's gonna happen to you, you're gonna get help, you're gonna get your lawyer and you're gonna get your family. That's what's gonna happen."

MORE TIME GOES BY...SHE’S STILL NOT READY….VALENCIA STAYS AT IT:

"Tell me when you have your feet out the door. You can do it."

"I'm opening the door." 

"OK, good. We've only got a few minutes left and we can still make that deadline and get out of there. OK? I want to help you, walk through that and avoid those lights."

BUT SHE’S NOT READY.

"Come on out. Is the door open?"

"I closed it back down."

"No, open it up, Yolanda."  

THE STANDOFF CONTINUES. YOLANDA STAYS PUT. BUT YOU CAN FEEL THE EXHAUSTION AND THE EMOTION WEARING HER DOWN.

"OK, this is what we're gonna do... are you ready to come out?"

"Yes." 

"OK. Alright, we need to get, uh, the instructions ready. You got the gun down?"

VALENCIA ASSURES HER LARRY YOUNG IS NEARBY… READY TO MEET HER TO KEEP HER SAFE.

"Tell me when you're door's open. OK?"

"I don't see Larry anywhere."

"Don't worry. He'll be there. But Yolanda, to show that you're ready to come out, you need to open up the door." 

WITH VALENCIA ON THE PHONE, LARRY YOUNG APPROACHES THE TRUCK:

"Just listen to what he says and just do it. OK? And basically, he's gonna ask you to step out to the back of the truck, where he can get to you, OK?"

"OK."

"And then they have that jacket that you wanted to cover you with, OK? Yo mero... It's almost over." 

MORE MINUTES GO BY...YOLANDA CAN HEAR LARRY YOUNG NOW:

"Listen to Larry. Listen to Larry. He's at the back of the truck waiting for you."

"Ohhhh God..." 

"He's at the back of the truck waiting for you." 

"I know." 

"Move to him. If you know, now move to him. It's time to do it. Open the door and come on outside." 

FINALLY, AFTER MORE THAN NINE HOURS, YOLANDA STEPS OUT OF THE TRUCK.

"Move toward Larry. (crying) OK? Keep moving towards Larry, alright?"

"(Yolanda inaudible)... Larry."

"Just move toward him. Yolanda, move toward Larry." 

"Come get me, Larry!" 

ACROSS THE PARKING LOT THE CROWD OF FANS AND ONLOOKERS AND REPORTERS STIRS.

THEY SENSE THE END IS NEAR.

WHATEVER THE END MIGHT BE.  

"We're moving... (cheers)."

YOLANDA SURRENDERS.  

SHE’S TAKEN INTO CUSTODY.  

THE STANDOFF IS OVER.

((MUSIC))

ACROSS TEXAS, ACROSS THE COUNTRY… AND THEN AROUND THE WORLD, SELENA’S DEATH AND THE CAPTURE OF YOLANDA SALDIVAR BEGINS TO SINK IN.  

IN CALIFORNIA, WHERE SELENA WAS BOOKED TO PLAY HER NEXT CONCERT, HER FRIEND, JULIE RAMIREZ, KNOWS SHE HAS TO GET BACK TO TEXAS:  

"So, I tried getting a flight out the next morning and I couldn't. I mean, they kept telling me the flights were full. And, so, finally, I got desperate. And I come back and I said, 'You all do know the singer, Selena Quintanilla?' And all, well, 'Yeah, we know.' And all that... I said, well, 'I was here waiting for her and I need to get back to Corpus.' They said, 'Oh, yes, in that case, we'll, we'll put you on a flight back.'"  

THE BRIGHT YOUNG STAR KNOWN AS "LA FLOR," IS GONE. AND STILL NO ONE KNOWS EXACTLY WHY THIS WOMAN WHO CLAIMED TO BE HER BEST FRIEND, HER FAN CLUB PRESIDENT, WHY SHE’S DONE WHAT SHE’S DONE.  

WAS IT AN ACCIDENT? OR DID SOMETHING DARKER, SOMETHING INEXPLICABLE, DRIVE SALDIVAR TO FIRE THAT GUN? TO BRING SELENA’S LIFE TO AN END.

"I never got to meet her personally and it hurt. It really did. I guess it's just a regret that we never really got to see her."  Close Transcript

Episode 1 | La Flor

At 23 years old, Selena's career was skyrocketing. But a dark cloud was forming behind the scenes as a close friendship was fraying. Read the Full Transcript »

A 35-YEAR-OLD WOMAN SITS IN A RED PICK-UP TRUCK OUTSIDE A DAYS INN IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS.  IT'S NIGHTTIME BUT THE TRUCK IS LIT UP BY BRIGHT LIGHTS.  THOSE LIGHTS ALSO GLINT OFF THE HELMETS OF SWAT OFFICERS CROUCHING NEARBY. BEHIND BUSHES AND TREES AND BUILDINGS. 

READY. WAITING.  

INSIDE THE NEARBY MOTEL, GUESTS HAVE BEEN TOLD TO STAY INSIDE THEIR ROOMS UNTIL THE STANDOFF ENDS.  AND BACK INSIDE THE TRUCK THE WOMAN HOLDS A PHONE TO HER EAR... AND A GUN TO HER HEAD….

"Larry I have to kill myself."

"No you don't have to do that."

"I have to Larry."  

"You don't have to do  that."

"I have to Larry."  

"You don't have to do  that, Yolanda."

THE VOICE ON THE OTHER END OF THE LINE IS LARRY YOUNG.  HE'S BEEN BROUGHT IN TO NEGOTIATE WITH YOLANDA SALDIVAR, THE WOMAN INSIDE THE TRUCK. 

HE'S BEEN AT IT FOR HOURS, SITTING INSIDE A NEARBY OFFICE.

"I know you're very tired.  I'm tired too.  I know that you're tired.  You know they always say that there's another side to the story."

"My story will never be heard.  It will never be heard."

"Your side will be heard." 

FOR HOURS AND HOURS, THE VETERAN OFFICER CONTINUES IN A CALM VOICE.  PLEADING AND COAXING. SEARCHING FOR THAT ONE LINE, THAT ONE PROMISE THAT WILL CONVINCE SALDIVAR TO PUT THE GUN DOWN AND SURRENDER.

"I know you're sitting there in the truck and you feel like well everybody is out here and I'm embarrassed and I'm hurting so bad.  But believe me there are a lot of people here for you." 

BUT INSIDE THE TRUCK, THE WOMAN WITH BROWN CURLY HAIR AND A GUN IN HER HAND IS DISTRAUGHT. DESPONDENT. HOPELESS.  

"I don't want to live anymore Larry. I don't want to live anymore. You know why?  Because I don't have any dignity.  I don't have any dignity at all."

"You have dignity. You have dignity with me." 

BUT HIS WORDS AREN'T WORKING. FOR YOLANDA SALDIVAR, THINGS HAVE ALREADY GONE TOO FAR. THERE'S NO GOING BACK.  SHE'S SHATTERED BY THE FRIEND SHE'S LOST.  BY WHAT SHE'S DONE.

"I've lost the only friend I ever had in my entire life."

"Yolanda, you're talking about the only friend you ever had. Who was that?"

BUT SHE CAN'T SAY HER FRIEND'S NAME...SHE CAN'T SAY WHO IT IS SHE'S LOST.

"Now let me tell you something, Yolanda. I've been on the phone for a while talking to you and I'd like to stay on the phone talking to you. But I'd much rather go out there and talk to you in person.  I really would.  But my supervisor is just got done telling me he's going to take me off of the phone." 

YOLANDA'S TORTURED CRIES CONTINUE.  HOUR AFTER HOUR AND INTO THE NIGHT.  

SHE CAN'T BRING HERSELF TO GIVE UP BUT NEITHER CAN SHE PULL THE TRIGGER.

IT WOULD BE THE SECOND TIME THAT DAY IF SHE DID PULL IT.  AND THE FIRST TIME IS WHAT STARTED ALL THIS: WHAT LED TO THE PICK-UP TRUCK AND THE SWAT OFFICERS.

THE FIRST TIME SHE PULLED THE TRIGGER WAS THAT MORNING: TWELVE MINUTES BEFORE NOON. IT WAS WHEN SHE KILLED HER BEST FRIEND. HER IDOL. IT WAS THE DAY SHE KILLED SELENA. 

"There are a lot of people wondering right now. They're all thinking. These things just don't happen. There must be something more to this. I think there are people out there going what's really going on?" 

THAT DAY WAS MARCH 31, 1995. BUT HOW DID WE GET THERE?

THE ROAD TO THAT DAY WAS TREACHEROUS AND SECRETIVE.

MAYBE YOU KNOW THE STORY OF SELENA… THE TEJANO SINGER. JENNIFER LOPEZ PLAYED HER IN THE APTLY NAMED MOVIE ABOUT HER LIFE.

BUT I'M ABOUT TO TELL YOU THE STORY OF TWO WOMEN.

A SUPERSTAR JUST BEGINNING TO BREAK OUT INTO A NEW WORLD OF MUSIC STARDOM AND AN OBSESSED SUPERFAN WHO NEVER LET THAT HAPPEN.

HOW DID THEIR LIVES COLLIDE, CHANGING EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE AROUND THEM? 

I'M RUDY TREVINO… I'VE BEEN AN ANCHOR AT KIII-TV ABC IN CORPUS CHRISTI FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS. I WATCHED SELENA RISE TO FAME. 

SHE WAS ON THE BRINK OF INTERNATIONAL STARDOM WITH HER ENGLISH-CROSSOVER ALBUM. 

"Lot of memories. Lot of memories here.  Especially for the folks who call Molina home.  Generations have since come and gone. For the kids that walk in front of their homes here headed to their school or bus stop or even to the corner grocery store there.  But they all have told the same story that they all live in the neighborhood where Selena once lived."

I TOOK GRACE WHITE, MY COLLEAGUE FROM KHOU-TV IN HOUSTON, AROUND TOWN INTRODUCING HER TO JUST HOW SIGNIFICANT SELENA IS IN CORPUS CHRISTI.

"Hi how are you doing? Good to see you.  You owned the store, you owned the store when Selena would come here.  And do you remember when Selena used to come here? What can you tell me about Selena that you remember?

"I remember Selena coming by from school. And she would stop by and get sodas, Fritos, you know stuff like that.  Snacks. Yes, She was a happy child.  Yeah.  I remember her."  

BUT MY MEMORIES OF HER FAMILY GO FURTHER BACK… BACK WHEN I WAS A KID AND I SAW HER DAD, ABRAHAM, PERFORM WITH HIS BAND: LOS DINOS, IN 1965. IT WAS MY FIRST REAL BRUSH WITH FAME, YOU COULD SAY. 

I WATCHED HIS BAND PERFORM AND THEN AFTER THE SHOW, ABRAHAM WALKED PAST ME AND TAPPED ME ON THE HEAD. I'LL NEVER FORGET HOW EXCITED I WAS. 

SO, FOR SELENA, IT SEEMED ONLY FITTING THAT MUSIC WAS PART OF HER LIFE FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.

SELENA LOVED WORKING WITH HER FAMILY. 

HER BAND, SELENA Y LOS DINOS, WAS COMPRISED OF HER SISTER, SUZETTE AND HER BROTHER A.B.

"You know I'm a firm believer that Hispanic families are real tight. They seem to stick together, believe in more family unity. And you can see our family, we work together really well."

AND SELENA WAS EXCITED ABOUT HER UPCOMING ENGLISH ALBUM RELEASE.

"We're going to start the English album. I was supposed to start this week, Monday, to fly to Nashville and start recording with Keith Thomas.  But I got sick. So we're going to start on that.  It should be out June or July.  And along with the Spanish album, Tejano album, will be out the same time."

AND PLAYING INSIDE THE HOUSTON ASTRODOMWE MEANT SHE WAS ON THE BRINK OF SUPERSTARDOM.

IT WAS FEBRUARY 1995. SELENA RODE OUT ON A WHITE, HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE. SITTING ON A DEEP RED VELVET SEAT, HER LONG, JET-BLACK HAIR FLOATED BEHIND HER IN THE BREEZE. 

SHE WAVED PROUDLY WITH ONE HAND TO HER MORE THAN 60,000 ADORING FANS. HER OTHER HAND CLUTCHED HER MICROPHONE—READY TO PERFORM.

SHE TOOK THE STAGE, WEARING A SPARKLY PLUM-COLORED JUMPSUIT WITH BELL BOTTOMS, CRISS-CROSSING ACROSS HER CHEST. WITH BRIGHT RED MANICURED NAILS, SHE LIFTED THE MICROPHONE TO HER DARK RED LIPS.

"How you doing, Houston, Texas!"

"I think playing in the Astrodome was kind of like a dream come true of all of us because I mean, this place is like Garth Brooks and George Strait. You know, Michael Jackson's even played there. And I remember when Michael Jackson played there, you know, I thought to myself, wow, that we really need of one day, you know, where it ever gets to the point where we can play there" 

"Selena y Los Dinos"

BUT BEFORE THE RODEO AND THE ASTRODOME, BEFORE THE ENGLISH-CROSSOVER… SELENA WAS JUST A LITTLE GIRL GROWING UP IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS. 

SELENA'S FATHER ABRAHAM QUINTANILLA:  

"She was a natural. No lessons. No nothing. I mean she was right on pitch. The timing was right and everything.  I mean she had it and I knew that she was going to do something.  She was a pro.  She had some miles on the road behind her."

SELENA WAS BORN ON APRIL 16, 1971. SHE WAS THE YOUNGEST OF THREE AND GREW UP IN LAKE JACKSON, TEXAS UNTIL SHE WAS NINE AND HER FAMILY MOVED TO CORPUS CHRISTI. 

BUT IT WOULDN'T BE LONG BEFORE MUSIC WAS RUNNING THROUGH HER VEINS. AND SHE WAS A NATURAL TALENT. 

HER SIBLINGS' BAND WAS LOS DINOS' NEXT GENERATION: SELENA Y LOS DINOS. IN FACT, THEY PERFORMED ON THE SAME LOCAL SHOW, I HOST, DOMINGO LIVE.

I FIRST MET SELENA AFTER ONE OF HER CONCERTS. I CAN SAY, FIRST-HAND, SHE'S THE SAME ON STAGE AS OFF… SO KIND, DOWN-TO-EARTH, FUNNY, BEAUTIFUL AND BUBBLY. IT WAS LIKE MEETING ONE OF OUR OWN. 

SELENA'S BROTHER A.B.:

"The second one to start was Selena. That's when she started picking up a songbook and saying I  want in on the action too. So Dad started putting her to sing.  So, then it was myself, Selena, and my Dad. We'd perform for little parties."

SELENA'S SISTER SUZETTE: 

"I was the only other child that wasn't doing anything and he said ‘Hey guess what? You're going to play the drums.'"

"We used to play ballads like ‘I'm in the Mood for Love,' ‘Feelings,' you know songs like that. And then we got introduced to Tejano music."

FANS FELL IN LOVE WITH HER. FELT LIKE THEY KNEW HER. 

SHE INSTANTLY BECAME A SINGER FOR THE PEOPLE.

IN FACT, THEY GAVE HER THE NICKNAME: LA FLOR. IT STANDS FOR HER PURITY AND HER TRUE LOVE OF THE CRAFT OF MUSIC. 

AND "LA ROSA BLANCA" -- THE WHITE ROSE -- SYMBOLIZES THE INNOCENCE OF SELENA.

"Talking to Selena was like I'd known her forever."

"It didn't matter how tired she was. She would wait for the last fan to give then an autograph."

TO HER FANS, SELENA WAS MORE THAN A SINGER. SHE WAS AN ICON. AND THE EPITOME OF A STRONG LATINO WOMAN. 

"My mother was a huge Selena fan."

NIA TOWNE GREW UP REVERING SELENA, RIGHT ALONGSIDE HER SISTER, LIKE SO MANY LITTLE GIRLS IN CORPUS CHRISTI IN THE 1990s.

"I'm the news director at KIII, 3News in Corpus Christi, Texas. We have a really extensive history with Selena just growing up, listening to her, reading everything we could about her. My mom always saying, OK, then let's dance like Selena. Let's, you know, do the iconic let's do the washing machine. So we listened to a lot of her music and we were just it was just one of those things where you see someone who looks like you, who talks like you, who and is out there, you know, doing big, great things in a very positive light. You don't realize it's inspirational when you're a kid, but it's showing you, hey, you can do it all."

EVEN TODAY, NOW LIVING IN SELENA'S HOMETOWN, WHEN NIA HEARS SELENA COME ON THE RADIO, EVERYTHING STOPS AND, WELL, YOU JUST DANCE.

"You know, you're at the carne asada and you're you know, you're having a good time. Everyone's there. And her song comes on and you just have to blast it. Everyone stops what they're doing. They blast the music and they start dancing and having a good time and they start saying, who does the best, you know, dance move, who looks the most like her, who can do the perfect red lipstick 

SARAH LUCERO WAS WORKING AT A UNIVISION TV STATION IN THE EARLY ‘90s WHEN SHE MET THE YOUNG SINGER: 

"She was probably one of the first or few people, artists,  who were crossing over into English music as successfully as she was. And then she had a clothing line too on top of all that. So, she was doing it all. She was living the dream. Living the American dream.  And I think for a lot of people in the Hispanic community looked at that and they really looked up at what she was doing and how she was doing it. She was becoming this amazing celebrity, unforgettable celebrity.  Almost an icon and a legend when she was still alive."  

SELENA INSPIRED, BECAME AN ICON. AND HER FAN BASE ONLY GREW WITH HER UPCOMING CROSSOVER ALBUM.

BEYOND HER FANS, SHE INFLUENCED OTHER SINGERS AND ARTISTS TOO. 

"107 FM.  San Antonio's numero uno Tejano hit station."

KXTN PROGRAM DIRECTOR, BOB PRADO, SAW HER RISE TO FAME AND HOW FANS EMBRACED HER AND HER MUSIC. 

"She was very well accepted into the English market. Billboard sales of her CD just skyrocketed. So, to say where she would be she would be up there among the superstars.  As Madonna and Elvis.  Cause people knew her on a one-name basis and what they say in the industry: when you're known on a one-name basis you've made it." 

I SAW THAT FIRST-HAND WITH MY OWN TEJANO TOP-40 RADIO SHOW.

"Tejano Gold with Rudy Trevino starts now!"

TEJANO MUSIC, AT THAT TIME, WAS A MALE-DOMINATED WORLD. BUT WHEN SELENA WALKED IN, SHE SHOOK UP EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SCENE.

TEJANO MUSIC IS UNIQUE A BLEND OF DIFFERENT GENRES AND MANY DIFFERENT CULTURES -- FROM IRELAND, GERMANY, HUNGARY AND MEXICO. LOTS OF GUITAR, BRASS, PERCUSSION, ACCORDIONS AND MARIACHIS. AND SOMEHOW IT ALL MELDED AND THE TEJANO INDUSTRY WAS BORN IN SOUTH TEXAS. 

AND SELENA, WELL, SHE CHANGED THE CLIMATE FOR FEMALE TEJANO SINGERS.

RON TREVINO, A REPORTER WITH KHOU IN HOUSTON, STEPPED INTO Q PRODUCTIONS, BASED IN CORPUS CHRISTI.

HE TALKED WITH SELENA FROM INSIDE THE STUDIO.

"So you must be pretty excited about everything that's being done here. Right here, they're gonna make a recording studio so we don't have to go out of town to record."

"Yeah, it's taking shape. This is just one big patent body shop and they sealed up these huge doors."

"Play it, Ricky -- what key was this in?"

"A lot of people take for granted that, oh, yeah, it's Selena's brother automatically he's going to get the songs, you know, and that. That's not the way that the record companies involved. And when you have record companies, you have to gain their trust as a producer and songwriter that you are able to take care of one of their top selling artists. And that's a lot of pressure, but it has a lot of great rewards. Awesome."

"A.B. will also co-produced an English album for Selena. Up to now, all of her recordings have been in Spanish. Selena's sister and drummer, Suzette."

"We sang with SBK Records and it's in all English is a branch of EMI and it's Wilson Phillips is on this label. John Secada, you know, artists such as that. And we're looking forward to the crossover. We're not going to leave Tejano music, you know, don't panic.

"They thank their father, Abraham, for their success. He was the leader of the original Dinos Band in the 50s. In the early 80s, he poured all his money into a restaurant in Lake Jackson. A 6-year-old Selena would sing for customers, but a bad economy caused the restaurant to fail. And the family had nothing, nothing except raw talent. Here's home video of Selena. At 10 years of age."

"We didn't have anything really to fall back on, so dad was determined in his mind to make us professionals at anything, any cost." 

IT WASN'T LONG BEFORE SHE WAS GETTING RECOGNIZED FOR HER TALENTS.

"The Grammy goes to. Live, Selina. I want to thank my father, Abraham, my brother and producer of my music. I love you. Thank you."

SHE WAS JUST 15 WHEN SHE WON HER FIRST MUSIC AWARD. 

BUT IT WOULDN'T BE THE LAST ONE. NOT BY A LONG SHOT. 

SELENA WAS NOMINATED FOR 86 AWARDS -- AND WON 67 OF THOSE, INCLUDING FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR, ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR AND 36 BILLBOARD LATIN MUSIC AWARDS, AND A GRAMMY. 

BUT OVER THE YEARS, GROWING UP IN THE SPOTLIGHT, SELENA FELL IN LOVE WITH MORE THAN MUSIC, WHEN HER FATHER HIRED GUITARIST, CHRIS PEREZ TO THE BAND.

PEREZ WAS A ROCK-N-ROLL MUSICIAN. AT FIRST, ABRAHAM WASN'T EXACTLY SOLD ON THE IDEA OF HIM JOINING THEIR TEJANO GROUP. BUT OTHER BAND MEMBERS CONVINCED HIM THAT HIS TALENT WOULD TRANSLATE. 

EVEN THOUGH HER DAD DIDN'T WANT ANY ROMANCE BETWEEN BAND MEMBERS -- SELENA FELL HARD FOR THE NEW GUITARIST. ABRAHAM DID NOT APPROVE. 

BUT THE YOUNG COUPLE ELOPED AND EVENTUALLY, ABRAHAM CAME AROUND.  

GRACE WHITE, AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER WITH KHOU IN HOUSTON, WAS IN CORPUS CHRISTI WORKING ON INTERVIEWS FOR THIS PODCAST, WHEN SHE RAN INTO JULIE RAMIREZ VISITING SELENA'S MEMORIAL AMID HUNDREDS OF WHITE ROSES—LAS ROSAS BLANCAS.

 "I feel like she can hear me come and talk to her for a little bit and visit with her knowing that she's there. She was very important to me. She would just go out of her way for me all the time."

JULIE RAMIREZ WAS A CLOSE FRIEND OF SELENA AND A PART OF HER FAMILY'S INNER CIRCLE.

SHE HELPED CREATE SOME OF HER MOST MEMORABLE CONCERT OUTFITS, LIKE THAT ICONIC PLUM JUMPSUIT SHE WORE INSIDE THE HOUSTON ASTRODOME IN 1995 AND THE WHITE RHINESTONE DENIM JACKET FROM THE HOUSTON RODEO.

"And tell us about that jean jacket behind you."

"The jean jacket behind me well she sent it to me because she wanted to make more like a biker jacket. And so she sent me that's like showing me that she wanted it that short, like a pattern type. And then she put on there the different colors that she wanted it in. She would always send me samples like that. And whenever she wanted something made special."

"And again, that outfit that's also behind you that she wore at the Houston rodeo. That was her design."

"That was her design. Yes. She designed that."

"And then it was your job to create it. 

"Yes." 

"To make her dream come to life."

"She thought of us like a family. We were like her family. Selena's family."

"She had a lot of trust in everybody and she cared about everybody. I think that I think that's what got her in trouble. She just had too much trust in people.".

 THAT UNDYING TRUST IN PEOPLE TROUBLED HER DAD ABRAHAM.

And her dad is someone they would worry about her all the time and talent. And she would say, my Dad just worries too much because nobody's gonna hurt me. And she never thought anybody would hurt her." 

BUT FAME IS COMPLICATED.

IT COMES AT A PRICE, IT'S NOT EASY AND IT'S HARD TO KNOW WHO YOU CAN REALLY TRUST.

JUST AS SELENA WAS ON THE CUSP OF HER ENGLISH-CROSSOVER STARDOM, YOLANDA SALDIVAR ENTERED THE PICTURE.

IN AN EFFORT TO EASE THE BURDEN OF SELENA'S GROWING FAME,   YOLANDA WAS HIRED TO MANAGE SELENA'S BOOMING FAN CLUB, INCLUDING ITS FINANCES.

YOLANDA SALDIVAR, A FORMER NURSE, WAS SOON HANDED THE ROLE OF FAN CLUB PRESIDENT.

SHE WAS IN CHARGE OF GETTING SELENA'S ADORING FANS MERCHANDISE—GIVING HER CONTROL OF THE CLUB'S FINANCES AND THE BUDDING FASHION BOUTIQUE. 

UNIVISION'S SARAH LUCERO REMEMBERS MEETING YOLANDA SALDIVAR WHEN SHE WAS ASKED BY SELENA TO BE THE MC AT ONE OF HER SHOWS: 

"She told me that she wanted me to go down to her boutique on Broadway. And meet her there and she would have one of her assistants helping out to get me in the right outfit for the concert. So I went down to the boutique soon after that and she was there and she got me together with Yolanda Saldivar and that's where I met Yolanda. She was taking care of all the details that Selena wanted her to take care of. So Yolanda was very attentive with me. And you know assureed me that whatever I needed just let her know.  That she was there to make sure that I felt good and that the show went well and that the clothes were perfect. Because that was Selena's goal was that her clothes looked perfect. Especially for the big launch."

LIKE MANY OF HER FANS, YOLANDA SALDIVAR IDOLIZED SELENA AND WANTED TO BE A PART OF EVERY ASPECT OF HER LIFE.

SELENA'S SEAMSTRESS, JULIE RAMIREZ, REMEMBERS WHEN YOLANDA ENTERED THE PICTURE.

AND JULIE TELLS GRACE WHITE, THAT SHE IMMEDIATELY GOT A BAD FEELING ABOUT HER.

"When did Yolanda come into the picture?" 

"Oh, that was early. I would say the early 90s. Ah, late eighties because she was with her for a while." 

"Did you ever. Get a bad feeling from her?"

"Yes, because I knew she didn't like me. She didn't like me being around Selena. She was that kind of possessive with her. And she always wanted Selena's attention. She wanted to be in the limelight all the time, you know, and sometimes I think she thought she was the star, not Selena. But she always wanted to be in the limelight and be around her and be in front of the cameras."

"And was she introduced to you as the fan club president?" 

"Yes. And little by little, she just worked her way in. And then she started working with Selena as far as doing her paperwork, ordering her fabrics and everything that she needed. She started taking over everything. And I think after what she was when doing her books, her bank accounts, everything. So she had access to everything. And that's what messed things up. I think she just had too much trust in her."

"I mean, she catered to Selena all the time. But then who wouldn't you know? And she was always on top of things and doing things for her. And she loved traveling with here whenever she could."

DURING THE BOUTIQUE OPENING, JULIE REMEMBERS HOW YOLANDA TRIED TO CONTROL SELENA AND KEEP HER FROM OTHERS.

"Yolanda kept me from her a lot. You know, she would always try to push me away. When we did the openings of the boutique. I remember that day I came to Corpus. She'd call me to come over here and for the opening before that. We're all getting stuff ready. And she said, Julie, there are media going be here in a minute.

"So I want you to come and stand by me when they come. I said, OK. So I kept doing things and fixing things. And then after a while she hollered, she said, The media's here, so y'all come on. And I started to get ready to go over there and Yolanda said, oh, we didn't put the fix a table with the cookies and the punch. Would you please do that? I said, sure, I'll do it.

So I went and did it. Not worrying about the cameras and stuff. Boy, she went up there and she just got in the front right away. And all the time she was just kind of pushing me away. So here when we opened up the boutique here in Corpus, they went to San Antonio the following day where we're going to ride back to San Antonio like in a caravan. Everybody was gonna follow each other. 

SELENA WANTED TO RIDE WITH JULIE. BUT YOLANDA WASN'T HAVING IT. 

"So when we got there and she got in the car, had her stuff, and then Yolanda said, Selena, come here. So she called her. She says they were talking and Selena came back and talked to me and told me, I'm going to have to ride with Yolanda. She's got some things to talk to me about. I said, okay, that's fine. You go ahead and take care of business. So she left with Yolanda. When we got to San Antonio, first thing, she gets out and she comes to my car. She tells me I don't know why she wanted me to ride with her. She didn't talk to me about anything. I said, oh, that's ok."

BUT JULIE SAYS TRYING TO KEEP SELENA ALL TO HERSELF WASN'T THE WORST OF IT.

MONEY ISSUES STARTED REARING ITS UGLY HEAD AND COMPLAINTS TO THE FAN CLUB WERE TRICKLING IN.

"They paid their dues and then in turn Yolanda would send him a packet of a shirt and some pictures or whatever, and they started complaining because they would send their money in and never got anything. So that's how he started finding out that she was not turning or rather sending out the packets keep in the money." 

"And you had problems getting paid, too."

"Oh, yes. And she would always put me off all the time. Put me off. And she would put the blame on Selena. But. When we first started and Selena was paying me direct, I never had any problems. And it's just when she started was when I started, you know, having to wait longer. In the very end, I didn't get paid for what I was owed to me."

"When you would ask Yolanda about it, what would she say?"

"That Selina had no Kate the invoices and she needed to locate the invoices and she was hard. It was hard to do because she wasn't always in town or she was on the go all the time and busy. And so she just kept putting me off."

But what did Selina say?" 

"I never approached Savina about my moneys because I knew that Yolanda was the one that was in charge of my paying things out.

"So even if I was with Selena talking to her or whatever, I never mentioned it to her. I would always. But when I needed my money, I would kept calling Yolanda, calling her and calling her and stayed on hre, and she would make all the excuses. But I never did go and tell Selena anything.

BUT BEFORE THE FANS, BEFORE THE BRIGHT, YOUNG TEJANO STAR CAME INTO HER LIFE, YOLANDA'S LIFE WAS NOTHING LIKE SELENA'S GROWING UP.

MAYBE NO ONE KNOWS YOLANDA BETTER THAN HER FAMILY.

SARAH LUCERO SAT DOWN WITH HER SISTER, MARIA ELIDA SALDIVAR, MANY YEARS LATER.  

GIVING INSIGHT INTO YOLANDA'S LIFE AND WHAT SELENA MEANT TO HER AND HER SISTER.

"So when I went to interview the sister on the southside of San Antonio. They lived in a very modest area. It was a very almost undeveloped part of the county. And they lived in a trailer home in a park where there were other mobile homes.  And they welcomed me in. They were very sweet. Very welcoming.  They offered me coffee.  You know sit down, let's talk. We sat at the kitchen table."

"In reality Yolanda and Selena did have a friendship as good friends."

"They say Selena used to go into their house. Into that very small, very humble, very modest home on the South side and just want to be a normal person. And she'd go in there and just want to have coffee and talk and not be Selena the superstar, just be Selena from Corpus Christi."

"She would come over and she knew that. One thing she had always asked, please, when I come over here, I don't want no cameras. No, nothing. I just want to come down and sit and have a nice talk. Cup of coffee. We used to make her feel like she was another baby sister that we had."

"And they seemed to be also very…they were almost a little...they were star-struck by it.  They were star-struck and didn't know how to deal with it or handle it.  But they just went with it. They just were themselves."  

YOLANDA EVEN CREATED HER OWN NICKNAME FOR SELENA.

"Selena to Yolanda was her little Buffy. As you can see on these cards."  

ELIDA FLIPS THROUGH A LARGE GREEN BINDER FILLED WITH EVERYTHING FROM YOLANDA'S LIFE WITH SELENA, LIKE THOSE NOTES AND CARDS.

"Or she would bring her little gifts like those dishes."

AND THAT FRIENDSHIP WENT BEYOND SWEET NOTES AND DISHES, YOLANDA WAS SELENA'S FAN CLUB PRESIDENT.

BUT, ACCORDING TO SOME, AS SELENA'S FAN BASE GREW SO DID YOLANDA'S OBSESSION.

WHEN MONEY STARTED GOING MISSING, TO THE TUNE OF ALMOST $30,000, FANS STARTED GETTING RESTLESS.

AND ABRAHAM HAD, HAD ENOUGH.

MONEY WAS MISSING FROM THE BOUTIQUE TOO.

PEOPLE WEREN'T GETTING PAID.

WORDS LIKE: "INSUFFICIENT FUNDS" WERE POPPING UP LEFT AND RIGHT. 

A LOT OF ACCUSATIONS WERE THROWN IN YOLANDA'S DIRECTION. BUT HER SISTER WAS ADAMANT THAT IT WASN'T YOLANDA WHO WAS STEALING FROM SELENA.

"And when Yolanda start showing Selena, what in reality, where her money was going to, that's what Mr. Quintanilla got so upset because she was trying to make Selena understand that what she was investing her money, her money was not being invested right. It was invested wrong. What Yolanda was saying we're saying your money from your music, you're just wasting it and you're not. It's not enough from what you're making."

ELIDA HAS HELD ONTO A PILE OF THOSE PHOTOCOPIED CHECKS TO BACK UP WHAT SHE'S SAYING, WHAT YOLANDA HAS SAID. SHE WASN'T A THIEF.

"I mean, here are the checks."

"This Belinda is the person who wrote these most of the checks?"

"There were insufficient money, insufficient money all the time."

"And it wasn't Yolanda?" 

"No."

ON MARCH 31, 1995, SELENA WANTED TO TALK TO YOLANDA FACE TO FACE ABOUT THE MONEY… AND SHE HEADED OVER TO THE DAYS INN WHERE YOLANDA WAS STAYING.

So what happened? So Yolanda came into the picture and what was actually going to happen? Did Selena go to the motel to fire Yolanda? That's what people think. 

Yeah. That's what they think, you know. But there is a letter Yolanda was the one that  resigned because she was tired of Mr. Quintana threatening Yolanda.

ELIDA SAYS YOLANDA WROTE A LETTER OF RESIGNATION ON MARCH 13… 18 DAYS BEFORE THEIR MOTEL MEETING.

"Because she was tired of Quintana threatening her. All this."

"What would he say in his threats?"

"She better get away from Selena and stop putting her nose where it don't belong."

 BUT WHEN THE TWO WOMEN MEET WITHOUT ABRAHAM QUINTANILLA AT THAT CORPUS CHRISTI MOTEL, IT WOULD BECOME THE LAST THING ONE OF THEM WOULD EVER DO.

THAT FATAL ENCOUNTER WOULD END IN A TRAIL OF BLOOD ALONG THE COURTYARD OF THE DAYS INN.

AND ONE FAMILY IS LEFT MOURNING THEIR SISTER. Close Transcript

Selena: A Star Dies in Texas launching May 6

Our host KIII-TV anchor Rudy Trevino introduces the tragic story of the young singer who broke boundaries before she was gunned down in 1995.

Sneak Preview - Selena: A Star Dies in Texas

Get a sneak preview of VAULT Studio's new podcast coming this Spring.