Nowadays, when a celebrity becomes involved in a murder, it becomes front page news, no matter if they participated in it or they are a victim in it. But sometimes celebrities are linked to murders before they are famous, and nobody finds out about it until years after it happened. On the other hand, they may already be famous when the murder happens and they end up linked to the crime in a very unlikely fashion.
So without further ado, here is our list of 10 celebrities linked to murders.
1. James Ellroy
James Ellroy is a crime fiction writer who often depicts stories that are set in the 1940s and 1950s in Los Angeles. His most popular novels, The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential connect the stories of the fictional characters in his books with real murders from that time. One of the reasons James Ellroy is so fascinated about this subject is because Jean Ellroy, the mother of the author, was the victim of a crime that wasn’t solved during those years. Jean Ellroy and her son moved in California in El Monte after she divorced her husband. When the author was only 10 years old, in 1958 on June 22 in Los Angeles, his mother was raped, beaten and strangled with a stocking until she died.
Regrettably, the murder was overshadowed by another crime that took place in Los Angeles, in which a mob member named Johnny Stompanato was stabbed by the daughter of Lana Turner, Cheryl Crane, the same year in April. Because of this, Jean Ellroy’s murder was pretty much forgotten until James started to pursue his own investigation years later.
James Ellroy published a personal memoir called My Dark Places in 1996 about his thorough research on the case and the murder of his mother. Jean had been seen with an olive-skinned unidentified man near a drive-in, moments before her death. Later the same night, she and the man were also seen with a blonde woman who also hasn’t been identified. It is believed that the stranger was the murderer of Jean Ellroy, and after he published his book, the author hoped that the woman might appear and identify him. Sadly, she didn’t, and the murder of Jean Ellroy still remains unsolved.
2. Kelsey Grammer
A cook in Colorado Springs named Daniel Van Lone was murdered in 1975 on June 19, after being abducted by Freddie Lee Glenn, a civilian employee of Fort Carson and his accomplices. The man was shot in the head and was robbed for a mere 50 cents.
Eight years after the murder, Lee Glenn was involved in another murder; this time of a soldier from Fort Carson called Winford Proffitt. The man was stabbed with a bayonet. Glenn and his two other accomplices kidnapped Karen Grammer, an employee of Red Lobster, after they robbed the restaurant on July 1. She was taken to an apartment and was raped by the men. Glenn, who was high on LSD, cut Karen’s throat with a knife, just moments after he told her they were going to let her go.
The criminals couldn’t have known that the sibling of their victim would become a very famous actor on television. The victim was identified by Kelsey Grammer, her older brother, when she was found by the police. In 1968, Kelsey and Karen’s father was shot to death by a cab driver in 1968, so this wasn’t the first tragedy in their family.
All the participants in the rape, abduction and murder of Karen Grammer were arrested soon after the incident. Lee Glenn was sentenced to death but it was later changed to imprisonment for life. Glenn was allowed parole in 2018. Kelsey Grammer delivered a testimony via a video conference at the parole hearing, saying that he had forgiven the man for the murder of his sister but wanted the murderer to remain imprisoned for the rest of his life. After the hearing, Glenn’s parole was denied.
3. Woody Harrelson
When the famous actor was cast as a killer in Oliver Stone’s movie Natural Born Killers, many people were very surprised. It was hard for them to imagine Harrelson as a murderer, seeing how he was known for his role in Cheers where he played a good-natured and innocent man called Woody Boyd. However, it seems that murder is a big part of Woody Harrelson’s family background.
When Harrelson was only seven years old, Charles Harrelson, his father, got separated from his mother. The actor soon discovered that his father was a contract killer. The actor’s father already had a history of crime before he was born, but just soon after he left his family, Charles Harrelson was charged with murdering a man called Alan Harry Berg. At a trial in 1970, Charles was acquitted but that didn’t mean his troubles with the law came to an end.
In 1973, Charles was sentenced to spend 15 years in jail after being convicted for murdering Sam Degelia Jr., a grain dealer. After being granted parole in 1978, Charles was hired to assassinate John H. Wood Jr., a U.S. district judge, by a drug kingpin. This time, Woody’s dad was sentenced to spend two life terms in jail for committing the murder and remained in prison until he died in 2007.
Charles, similar to Bill Paxton, has a connection to the Kennedy assassination as well. Three unidentified men were photographed on the grassy knoll on the day when the Kennedy assassination took place. Many believe that those three men were somehow connected to the assassination and that Charles Harrelson was one of them. After he was imprisoned, Charles said that he was connected to the murder but no evidence was ever found to confirm his claims.
It seems that Kelsey Grammer isn’t the only cast member from Cheers with connections to murder.
4. Matthew McConaughey
Edward Harold Bell parked his car in a neighborhood in Pasadena in 1978 on the 24th of August. When he got out of the car, the man was naked from the waist down and headed towards a group of kids. Larry Dickens, a 26 year old ex-Marine was visiting his mother at the time and ran to confront the strange man. As a response, Bell simply pulled out his gun and shot Dickens five times right in front of his mother. The murderer attempted to escape but was soon caught by the police and was charged with murder. After the murderer was released on bail he liquidated his entire assets and fled. Bell would remain one of the most wanted criminals for 14 years in Texas.
A TV show called Unsolved Mysteries addressed the murder of Dickens in 1992 with hopes of capturing the criminal. In order to film the re-enactment of the murder, a young Texan actor was hired to play the role of Larry Dickens. That actor was Matthew McConaughey. When Unsolved Mysteries aired, millions of people saw the future winner of the Acadamy Award get shot in what was his first acting role.
The segment was also successful in achieving its primary goal. Soon after the episode aired, two people called in to say they recognized the murderer and that he was currently living in Panama. Edward Harold Bell was captured, extradited to the United States and convicted to spend 70 years in prison for the murder of Dickens.
5. Jacques D’Amboise
Jacques d’Amboise is one of the most famous ballet dancers in the United States. He developed a very successful career as a choreographer and performer and has even showed his amazing skills in some musicals in Hollywood. In California, while d’Amboise was attending ballet school he stayed in the home of a couple from Pasadena and he and their son, William Bradford Bishop Jr., became friends. Bishop lived in Bethesda with his elderly mother, three sons and his wife and had a job with the U.S. State Department by 1976. That year, on the 29th of February, d’Amboise had a scheduled Kennedy Center performance and he and his wife were thinking of staying with the Bishop family in Bethesda.
However, d’Amboise suffered an injury to the knee just two days before the planned show, so he had to cancel his performance. Because of this, he never stayed with the Bishop family. Just a week later, d’Amboise was surprised to find out that the bodies of the wife, children and mother of William Bishop were found burned and buried in North Carolina.
Bishop had gone missing but it was obvious that he was responsible for the gruesome murders. On March 1, Bishop left work early after being upset for not getting a promotion. He went home afterwards and killed his entire family before taking their bodies in North Carolina.
William Bishop was never found and is still one of the most wanted fugitives in America. If d’Amboise hadn’t canceled his show because of his knee injury, he and his wife would have been at the home of the Bishop family when the murders happened.
6. Henry Rollins
Even after Rolling started to be successful with his band called The Rollins Band, he remained close to his best friend, Joe Cole. Joe Cole was the son of Dennis Cole, a television actor. In 1991 on December 19, Cole and Rollins were going back to a home they shared in Venice Beach.
After they made a stop to buy some groceries, the two were very close to their home when two black men appeared all of a sudden and pointed weapons at them. They forced Cole to get down on the ground and put Rollins to his knees right on the front lawn of their house, before telling them to give them their money. The two black men became very frustrated when they found out Cole and Rollins only had $50 together.
Afterwards, the robbers told Cole and Rollins to go inside the house. Rollins heard a shot from behind when they were walking inside the house and realized that Cole had been shot in his face. Rollins then ran off through the house and made his escape through the back door. He eluded the two robbers and managed to call the police but by the time they arrived, Cole was dead and the robbers were long gone.
Even though Henry Rollins did provide the police with the killer’s description, they couldn’t find any leads and the murderers are still at large today. Rollins has kept a container with some soil covered in the blood of his best friend Cole, as a reminder of that dreadful day when he died.
7. Rupert Murdoch
In 1969 on December 29, Alick McKay returned home in London only to find out that Muriel, his wife, was missing and the house was very messy. Alick later received a call from a person that called himself “M3”, demanding a ransom of 1 million pounds in exchange for his wife’s safe return. Despite numerous conversations, authorities took over a month to arrange a ransom drop with the people who kidnapped his wife. Eventually McKay was told on February 6 to leave two suitcases with £500,000 in each in Bishop’s Stortford near a telephone box.
However, a couple reported the suitcases to the police before being picked up. Despite this, a Volvo was observed driving continuously near there and its license plate led the investigators to a man called Arthur Hosein. Hosein lived with his brother, Nizamodeen, near Rook’s Farm.
Unfortunately, the body of Muriel McKay wasn’t found after a search of their property and she was presumed dead. The police found evidence to incriminate the two brothers and they were sentenced to spend their lives in prison for murder and kidnapping. Sadly, the McKays were just victims of a mistaken identity. Alick worked as deputy chairman for Rupert Murdoch, the wealthy media mogul.
The plan of the two Hosein brothers was to kidnap Anna, Murdoch’s wife and ask for a ransom. However, Rupert Murdoch and his wife were in Australia the time the kidnapping took place. Alick was borrowing the company car of his boss while Murdoch was away and one night drove it home. The two brothers were tailing the car and they believed that McKay’s home was Murdoch’s and kidnapped the wrong person in the end.
8. Bill Paxton
The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 on November 22 in Dallas is one of the most analyzed historical events ever. Taking into consideration just how many conspiracy theories surround the death of J.F.K., practically every aspect has been analyzed. However, it may surprise you to find out that a young future celebrity was present there that day Kennedy died.
When Kennedy left that morning from Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, he gave a speech to the people outside before heading out to Dallas. A cameraman shot some footage of the people gathered and a still frame from that footage shows a boy sitting on the shoulders of a person, hovering over a very large group of individuals. It was revealed decades later that the boy in the picture was none other than the famous actor from Hollywood, Bill Paxton.
Bill Paxton’s hometown was Fort Worth, and the actor was just eight years old when the president of the United States of America was assassinated. Bill and his brother wrote to their father and asked him to go with them to Hotel Texas so they could see the president, according to Bill Paxton. But by the time they arrived there, there was already a large crowd of people. However, an unidentified man put Bill on his shoulders so that he could see President Kennedy, over the horde of people. Because of this, Paxton was featured when the footage was filmed, but he didn’t have anything to do with the event that happened just a few hours after the iconic video was shot.
At Dealey Plaza, in the Sixth Floor Museum there are two still images of Paxton on display.
9. Steve McQueen and Jerzy Kosinski
One of the most horrific crimes in history took place in 1969 on August 9, when Charles Manson commanded four members of the Manson family to enter by force in the house of Sharon Tate in Los Angeles. Tate and four other people were murdered then. It’s well-known that Sharon Tate was the wife of Roman Polanski, who was in London when the murders happened. What’s not such common knowledge is that two other famous people were supposed to attend Tate’s party that night but they never made it.
One of those people was Jerzy Kosinski, the famous Polish novelist. He was invited at the get-together and caught a plane to Los Angeles from Paris on August 9. However, his luggage was mistakenly sent to New York so he had to leave the plane when the flight stopped in New York for a layover in order to retrieve his luggage. Because of this, Kosinski didn’t make it on time to finish his flight and didn’t make it to the party the night the Manson crimes took place. As a matter of fact, the police initially thought that Steven Parent, a bystander that was killed outside the residence, was in fact Jerzy Kosinski.
Steven McQueen was also invited to Tate’s party. McQueen, however, was a big womanizer and after he met with a young woman on his way to Tate’s get-together, he actually preferred to have a one-night-stand with her and never showed up.
Even though the lives of McQueen and Kosinski were saved by these strange twists of fate, it’s worth mentioning that Steve McQueen had training in martial arts and military experience. Some people even wonder if he could have prevented the tragedy by fighting off the Manson family if he had been present that night.
10. Anne Perry
One of the most stunning murder cases in New Zealand took place in 1954 on June 22 in Victoria Park when Honorah Parker from Christchurch was beaten to death with a brick. It came as a surprise when the murderers were found to be the 16-year-old daughter of the woman, Pauline Parker, and her best friend, 15-year-old Juliet Hulme.
The two girls were very close to each other and their families were concerned the two were developing an attraction to each other. Juliet found out that she was going to be sent to live in South Africa and separated from Pauline. Because Honorah’s daughter was scared that her mother would not let her go with Juliet, the two started planning to kill her.
Juliet and Pauline were convicted with the murder of Honorah Parker but given the fact that they were juveniles, they only spent five years in prison. Juliet and Pauline started new separate lives after being released from prison and changed their identities. The public had no clue what happened to the two for several decades. However, in 1994, the case was brought back to the spotlight when Peter Jackson directed a film based on the story named Heavenly Creatures. The movie starred Kate Winslet in the role of Juliet Holmes. After a short time after the movie was released, the identities of the murderers were revealed to the public.
Juliet Holmes became a very successful crime novelist under the name of Anne Perry, to everyone’s surprise. After Holmes moved to the United Kingdom, she went on to develop a writing career under the new identity. She writes historical detective fiction and has published numerous best-selling novels. Her crime novels were sold in over 26 million copies. Despite committing the heinous murder in her younger years, and even after she was revealed to be Juliet Holmes, Anne Perry is still extremely successful and her career is still flourishing to this day.
So there you have it. This was our list of 10 celebrities linked to murder. We really hope you enjoyed it and it’s worth mentioning that we are just as surprised as you are of these connections, even though some of these celebrities haven’t done anything wrong.