Trigger warning: physical and sexual abuse.
Netflix’s newest true-crime docuseries is Killer Sally is a gripping three-episode story of how one woman shot and killed her husband on Valentine's Day.
With the first episode dropping on Nov. 2, Netflix tells the story of how bodybuilder Sally McNeil murdered her husband and claimed self-defense. The limited series uses interviews with the real-life Sally and her two children.
Ray, Sally's husband and a fellow bodybuilder, physically abused Sally throughout their relationship. And when she shot him, she alleged that she was being choked, per Rolling Stone. After a rough trial, she was hit with a second-degree murder charge and a long jail sentence.
Ahead, find out how Sally's life, the murder of her husband, and eventual her trial and conviction.
Who is ‘Killer Sally’?
'Killer Sally,' a.k.a. Sally McNeil, was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1960, per The Independent. In the series, she says she had a “tough” upbringing, including experiencing “situations where [she] had to defend [herself],” the outlet reported. She was exposed to physical violence during childhood, and believed it was normal.
In high school, she became an athlete, working on her swimming, diving, and running skills. She went on to attend East Stroudsburg State College, now known as East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, with the hopes of becoming a gym teacher, The Independent reported. Sadly, Sally had no money left for her college fund after three-and-a-half years at school, so she had to leave.
Sally decided to join the Marine Corps, following in the footsteps of her brother and uncle, and met her first husband while serving. Eventually, Sally ran away from her husband, transferring to Camp Pendleton in California as a result of his aggressive personality, according to The Daily Beast. She also began bodybuilding during that period, per The Independent.
How did she meet her husband, Ray McNeil?
Sally ended up competing and placing fourth in her first bodybuilding competition, the Armed Forces Bodybuilding Championship, on February 14, 1987. It was here that she met Ray McNeil, another bodybuilder and fellow Marine. "He looked like the Statue of David,” she said, according to The U.S. Sun. “He was beautiful. Lust at first sight.”
The couple dated for two months before getting married, moving to Oceanside, California, per The Independent. Sally stayed in the Marines, working as a cook. She was eventually discharged from the military three years into their marriage, and decided to make more money by competing in “muscle worship,” or getting paid to wrestle men on video, per The U.S. Sun. Her job made enough money for Ray to quit the Marines and pursue bodybuilding for good, per The U.S. Sun.
Eventually, the couple started fighting. Ray became increasingly insecure about his body, and Sally found out about one of his mistresses, according to The U.S. Sun. Ray also became abusive, at one point even punching her in the face, splitting her lip, and breaking her nose, per The Independent.
The docuseries says Ray was abusive due to physical and sexual abuse in his childhood, according to The Daily Beast.
What did 'Killer Sally' do?
Sally shot her husband after they got into a fight at their apartment. Perhaps most eerie is the fact it occurred exactly eight years after meeting each other on February 14, 1995, The Independent says. She shot Ray twice, once in the abdomen and once in the head, “because she was afraid for her life." She “didn’t know what [Ray] he was capable of doing" to her.
When she called 911, she said, “I just shot my husband because he just beat me up,” per The U.S. Sun.
Their two kids were also affected.
The couple shared Shantina and John, and the McNeil kids, who are now adults, remember their dad's abuse, per The Guardian. John was only in fourth grade when his mom, Sally, shot and killed Ray, and apparently was caught on tape telling her in the interrogation room, that "if you thought [he] was gonna kill you then that’s self-defense."
Shantina says she remembers hearing her mother trying to gasp for air while Ray abused her, and Ray once broke Sally's nose in front of both kids, the outlet reported.
What happened during Killer Sally’s trial?
Because of her bodybuilding physique, Dan Goldstein, the prosecutor, tried to make her look like the aggressor. “She is a bully,” Goldstein said in his opening statement, per The Independent. “That’s hard to say when you’re talking about a woman, but Sally McNeil has managed to bridge the gap of gender.”
They also dubbed the murder the “roid rage killing” due to the fact that both were using steroids, which investigators later discovered, per The U.S. Sun.
The prosecution tried to argue that the murder was premeditated, because according to the forensics, she had shot Ray in the abdomen, then went and reloaded the weapon and shot him again in the face, as reported by The Guardian.
What was Sally convicted of?
She was eventually found guilty of second-degree murder in 1996. Her sentence was 19 years to life in jail, per The U.S. Sun.
How old is she now?
Born in 1960, Sally is 60 years old today—but she was 35 years old when she shot Ray.
Where is 'Killer Sally' now?
Sally was living at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California, per The New York Daily News, but was released on parole in June 2020, and now lives in Northern California, per The U.S. Sun.
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