This week CopyCat Killers examines the disturbing case of Lyle and Erik Menendez, rich boys who turn to murder in order to get their way.
José Enrique Menéndez was an immigrant from Cuba who’d done well for himself and, together with his wife Rose and two sons, had a very comfortable life in Calabasas, California.
On August 20, 1989, José and Rose were relaxing in the family den at home when they were attacked. José was shot in the back of the head with a 12-gauge shotgun, this woke his wife Kitty who made a run for it. She was shot in the leg and then appeared to have slipped in her own blood. She was then shot several times in the face, arm and chest. She was unrecognisable after the attack and both were also shot in the kneecaps.
Their sons, 21-year-old Lyle and 18-year-old Erik, told police they were out at a movie and called 911 as soon as they got home to find their parents dead. Police were suspicious of the boys but had no evidence at the time and let them go.
However, over the next few months the detectives became even more suspicious as the two brothers went a on spending spree, buying businesses, fast cars and travelling all over the world. A breakthrough came when police got a tip that Lyle had confessed murdering his parents to his psychologist. He’d threatened the man, who told his mistress about it and when they split up she told the police in a fit of anger.
The police arrested Lyle on March 8, 1990, and Erik, who was in Israel for tennis, gave himself up shortly afterwards. At the trial they claimed to have suffered years of sexual and physical abuse from their father and used this as a defense for the murders. The first trial was highly publicised and saw the jury split, but at the subsequent one they were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
They are said to have been inspired to commit the killings by the TV movie Billionaire Boys Club, which was based on a true story and involved young men who’d came from rich families but were not trusted with the wealth.
Both brothers have married whilst in prison and are reported not to have seen each other for more than ten years.
CopyCat Killers airs on Saturdays at 10:00 PM on REELZ.