Who is Sally McNeil from Netflix's Killer Sally?
On Valentine's Day in 1995, bodybuilder Sally McNeil was arrested for shooting her husband Ray, but why did she kill him and where is she now? Here's everything you need to know.
While the world of body building has been previously explored in documentaries like Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends and Generation Iron, Netflix dives into a darker side of the industry in Killer Sally – a three-parter about Sally McNeil, a bodybuilder convicted of murdering her husband.
The docuseries follows McNeil's rise on the bodybuilding and wrestling scene before telling the story of how the abuse she received from her fellow bodybuilder husband Ray eventually led to his death on Valentine's Day in 1995.
Labelled a "bully" and a "thug" while on trial, McNeil was found guilty of second degree murder - however Killer Sally, directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nanette Burstein, looks at the media's treatment of McNeil, the high-profile nature of the trial and allows McNeil to tell her side of the story.
"I have no interest in gratuitous true crime," Burstein told The Guardian, adding that McNeil's case being a prism for larger societal issues then and now is "what really attracted [her] to the story".
"It was really about domestic violence, and it’s about gender roles," she explained. "It’s really about other women, because this is still happening today."
But what did Sally McNeil do and where is she now? Here's everything you need to know about the true story behind Killer Sally.
Who is Sally McNeil?
Sally McNeil, also known as Killer McNeil or Killer Sally, is a former bodybuilder who was convicted of murdering her husband Ray in 1995.
She grew up in Pennsylvania in a household "where [she] had to defend [herself]" and went on to become a name in the bodybuilding world. She also joined the US marine corps.
Whilst in the military, Sally began taking part in bodybuilding competitions, placing fourth in her first competition in 1987. It was there that she met fellow sergeant and bodybuilder Ray, who she married. However, in the documentary, Sally and her children John and Santina allege that Ray was abusive throughout their relationship, claiming that he punched Sally in the face on their third day of marriage and went on to break her nose.
"He said that I was inferior and he was the superior bodybuilder and everything should go towards him," Sally says in the Netflix series.
"From the start, I wasn’t good enough. I was never good enough. Ray felt as though he was the most important person in the family. He was trying to get me to give up my dream so I could support him."
When Sally was dismissed from the military, she focused on her wrestling career and took on the name 'Killer Sally', offering to wrestle men for $300 an hour to make money – a practice known as muscle worship.
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On February 14th 1995, Sally shot Ray, telling the 911 operator: "I just shot my husband because he beat me up," and later telling the officers interrogating her: "I wanted to get out of the house, and he wouldn't let me out of the house. So then I ran back to the bedroom, and I got my shotgun."
When the police told her that Ray had died, she said that she "just wanted him to stop hitting" her.
The bodybuilder was charged with and convicted of second-degree murder, being sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. Sally still maintains she shot Ray in self-defence, alleging in the documentary that Ray had been hitting and shocking her and that she "didn't know what he was capable of doing".
Where is Sally McNeil now?
After serving her sentence at Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla, Sally McNeil was released from prison on May 29th 2020 after being granted parole.
In the documentary, McNeil says that she didn't deserve such a long sentence, adding: "I want to do an appeal on what happened but I'm just so happy I'm free. I don't care anymore. I'm free."
She currently lives in North California with her new husband.
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