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Who is Sally McNeil from Killer Sally and where is she now?

November 4, 2022

The post Who is Sally McNeil from Killer Sally and where is she now? first appeared on Ready Steady Cut.

Who is Sally McNeil from Killer Sally, and where is she now? This article provides background for the Netflix documentary Killer Sally and contains spoilers.

A three-part docu-series has been released on netflix on Sally McNeiI, former bodybuilder found guilty of murdering her husband. The series, titled Killer Sally, allows Sally to play a part in telling her story decades after the murder and trial that landed her in prison. It is directed by award-winning filmmaker Nanette Bursteinwhose previous work includes On the ropes and Hillary. The series is divided into three episodes: “Valentine’s Day”, “The Death of Mr. California” and “The People vs. Sally McNeill”.

Netflix describes the series: Killer Sally is bodybuilding’s most notorious crime story. On Valentine’s Day 1995, national bodybuilding champion Ray McNeil was choking his bodybuilder wife, Sally, when she grabbed a gun and shot him twice. With a documented history of domestic violence, Sally claimed it was self-defense, a split-second decision to save her life.

The description continues, “The prosecution argued that it was a premeditated murder, the revenge of a jealous and aggressive wife. They called her a ‘thug’, a ‘thug’, a ‘monster’. The media called her a “muscular bride” and a “bloated princess”. Sally says she spent her life doing whatever it took to survive, caught in a cycle of abuse that began in childhood and ended with Ray’s death. This complex true crime story examines domestic violence, gender roles and the world of bodybuilding.

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In our review for RSC, Romey Norton said, “This documentary is an honest look at how and why it happened” and called him “an interesting and emotive watch.” Norton asks the question, “If Ray was a man with huge insecurities, threatened by his wife’s looks and successes, high on steroids, who took his anger and rage on Sally, does that mean he deserved to die ? Was it self defense, as Sally was fighting for her life, or was Sally fed up with her abuse and saw only one way out and premeditated this shooting ? She further said, “This series will make you think and question your morals and is definitely a talking point. Norton gave the series three out of five stars.

In a review for Decider, reviewer Johnny Loftus says, “What’s most remarkable about Killer Sally is how he places McNeil’s actions within the larger climatic forces at work not only in the bodybuilding scene of the 1980s, but also in the biased media perception of women in athletics and their role as breadwinners.”

Who is Sally McNeil?

Sally McNeil was an American professional bodybuilder. Born in 1960 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, she grew up in a difficult family situation where she often witnessed abuse. This, according to the documentary, led her to believe that domestic violence was normal. She joined the United States Marine Corps in the 1980s when she was in her twenties and served at Camp Pendleton. She eventually rose to the rank of sergeant.

Sally and fellow bodybuilder and Marine Ray McNeil married in 1987. They got engaged after just a few months of dating. Once married, Sally worked as a cook in the Marines before being discharged from the army in 1990.

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Before being released, she twice won the United States Armed Forces Physics Championship. This marked the start of his bodybuilding career. After leaving the Marines, she pursued a career as a wrestler, going by the name “Killer Sally” (a title that would eventually prove prophetically true). She wrestled men on camera and was paid up to $3,000 per match. She was able to support the family with this money, even allowing Ray to leave the Marines and pursue his own career as a bodybuilder.

The relationship between Ray and Sally was tumultuous. Ray was unfaithful in the marriage, an altercation having broken out between one of his mistresses and Sally at one point. He was physically abusive towards Sally and her son and daughter from his previous marriage. Ray also took steroids, paid for by Sally’s success, which may have increased his violent tendencies.

What did Sally McNeil do?

On Valentine’s Day 1995, Sally killed her husband Ray, shooting him in the head and once in the abdomen. She says he was strangling her at the time and the killing was in self-defense. According The American Sunshe said to the 911 operator, “I just shot my husband because he beat me.” Sally’s son Ray has confirmed his stepfather’s abusive behavior towards himself, his sister and his mother.

On March 19, 1996, Sally’s trial ended and she was convicted of second degree murder and sent to prison. She was sentenced to 19 years to life. During the trial, the prosecution made much of his strength and allegedly unfeminine physique, calling him by “thug” names. Looking back now, it’s easy to see how the jury — and the American public — were skewed by beliefs about appropriate female roles and domestic violence.

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Where is Sally McNeil now?

Sally McNeill is 62, having been 35 at the time of the murder. She has served her sentence and is now a free woman, living in Northern California. She spent most of her life at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California before being released on parole in June 2020.

Sally’s children, John and Shantina, were initially placed in a nursing home. Later, they were raised by their mother’s parents. Today Sally shares a close relationship with her now adult son. Hopefully this series will help him clear his name and enjoy the rest of his life outside of prison.

It seems like every month there’s at least one new series streaming about a killer from the past fifty years. However, what sets Sally McNeil apart from most is that she maintains to this day that she only killed her husband in self-defense. For the most part, these series represent another entry into the sensational true-crime genre, but this documentary series offers a chance for a woman who has spent decades in prison to tell her own story.

The post Who is Sally McNeil from Killer Sally and where is she now? first appeared on Ready Steady Cut.