Famous Murder Cases by Celebrities

Here are 7 celebrities that allegedly killed someone. These celebs were accused of horrible crimes and have either killed their partners or been charged with a famous murder. They’ve made for some very famous cases & trials in history.

7: Roscoe Arbuckle

Better known as “Fatty” Arbuckle, Roscoe had his start during the silent film era in the early 20th century. As the most popular actor during the 1910s, he helped mentor the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope. He starred in wildly successful feature films like Tango Tangles in 1914 and Out West in 1918. So when he stood trial for the rape and manslaughter of a young actress in 1921, it was a shock to everyone, including Arbuckle himself. By the time of the alleged incident, Arbuckle had developed a reputation for heavy drinking and throwing lavish parties. On September 5th of that year, he and two friends decided to throw a party at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. They rented a special room just for the sake of throwing the party. The two invited several women, one of which was actress Virginia Rappe. Rappe had a reputation for getting too drunk at parties and due a condition known as cystitis, would sometimes rip her clothes off as drinking would cause her physical pain. After this party at the St. Francis Hotel, she was taken to a hospital after she had said she was not feeling well. Her friend reported that she was raped by Arbuckle, but the doctor found no evidence to back her claim. Rappe died in the hospital a few days later due to a ruptured bladder. At that point both Rappe’s friend, Bambina Maude Delmont, and Rappe’s manager, Al Semnacker, told police that Arbuckle got her drunk then used a Coca-Cola bottle to simulate sex with her. As a heavyset man, the police determined that Arbuckle’s weight was what caused her bladder to rupture during the assault. He was arrested and charged with sexual assault and manslaughter. Although this isn’t technically a murder, he was still accused of killing someone. The trial was a media frenzy and many of Arbuckle’s friends came to his defense, arguing that he was incapable of such a crime. The newspapers, mostly controlled by William Randolph Hearst, portrayed Arbuckle as a womanizer who used his weight to overpower women so he could have his way with them. Additionally, public opinion was so against him that the main witness of the trial—who claimed Arbuckle never harmed Rappe—was shot in the courthouse one day. After two mistrials, Arbuckle was eventually acquitted of any wrongdoing during a third trial when the jury was unable to reach a verdict. The defense was able to prove that Rappe’s injuries were not caused by any external factors. After intense cross examinations of the prosecution’s witnesses, the jury found Arbuckle not guilty. They even went so far as to publicly write him a letter, stating “Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done to him. We feel also that it was only our plain duty to give him this exoneration, under the evidence, for there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of a crime.” Although he continued to make movies after his trial of the famous murder, it took him a long time to recover from the scandal. His films had been banned and destroyed, his wife left him (though she maintained his innocence), and he had a hard time finding work. He eventually adopted the name “William Goodrich” under which he began directing films and briefly acted again before his death in 1933.

6: John Holmes

John Holmes was a popular pornstar who’s appeared in more than 2,500 adult films during his career. But despite his accomplishments, he was arrested and tried as a suspect in a famous murder called the Wonderland Murders; a series of four murders in Los Angeles in 1981. By the time of the murders, Holmes was heavily involved in drug use and trade. He would regularly sell drugs for people known as “the Wonderland Gang,” who staked their hideout in a house on Wonderland Avenue in Los Angeles, California. Holmes however, began stealing money from the gang and using some of the drugs he was supposed to be selling. When the Wonderland Gang discovered this and threatened to kill him, he informed them of some drugs they could steal from his friend, Eddie Nash, a nightclub owner and drug dealer. After the robbery, however, Nash figured out what Holmes was up to and ordered him and a few other men to retaliate against the Wonderland Gang. On July 1st, 1981, the four gang members were found murdered in their home. After being questioned by police about the incident, they let Holmes go due to a lack of evidence. He then went on the run, skipped town with a woman named Dawn Schiller, and was eventually arrested in December and charged with the murder of all four men. But he was acquitted in 1982 as the jury found him not guilty. The case remains unsolved to this very day. John eventually died of AIDS-related complications in 1988, and the popular comedy film Boogie Nights was inspired by his life.

5: Phil Spector

Phil Spector was a hugely successful music producer during the 1960s and 70s. His influence on the music industry has been highly praised by critics as he influenced bands such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, The Rolling Stones, and The Jesus and Mary Chain to name a few. He’s even credited with creating the Wall of Sound, a technique in which music is densely layered in order to improve sound quality on AM radio and jukeboxes, which were very common in the 1960s. By 2003, he was a legend in the music industry. So when actress Lana Clarkson was found shot dead in his California home, it sent shockwaves through the industry. Spector was arrested and charged with a famous murder after his driver witnessed Spector saying “I think I’ve killed someone” and seeing him with a gun in his hand. He remained free on bail until the trial began in 2007. The trail was chaotic. It was televised, the media was in frenzy, and Spector went through three different attorneys during the course of the trial. The judge eventually declared a mistrial due to a hung jury. In 2008, Spector was re-tried for second degree murder. After a trial lasting nearly six months, a jury found him guilty after 19 days of deliberation. The 70-year old Spector was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. Due to his deteriorating health, he is serving his time at a California State Prison healthcare facility.

4: Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis had a prolific career in the NFL. From 1996 to 2012 he was a star linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens. As a 13-time pro bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion, Lewis amassed 1,336 tackles, 41.5 sacks, and 31 interceptions during his career. However, a major blight in his legacy was an incident in 2000, when Lewis and two of his friends were indicted for murder. After winning Super Bowl XXXIV, Lewis was partying with friends in Atlanta when a fight broke out between Lewis and his friends, and another group of guys. During the scuffle, two men—Richard Lollar and Jacinth Baker—were stabbed to death. After being questioned by police, Lewis and his two friends, Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeney, were charged with the famous murder. Lewis and his attorneys eventually reached a plea agreement with the prosecution in order for his testimony against Oakley and Sweeney. Lewis was sentenced to 12 months probation and was fined $250,000 by the National Football League. To this day, the white suit Lewis was wearing during the incident has not been found and no DNA was ever found on the supposed murder weapon. Jacinth Baker’s blood, however, was found inside the limousine Lewis rented, although this never led to a conviction. Both Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeney were acquitted of the killings and this crime still remains a mystery.

3: Sid Vicious

Sid Vicious was the bassist for the short-lived but famously influential English punk band, the Sex Pistols. He joined the band in 1977 and despite a background of mostly being a vocalist, he served as the bassist until the band’s breakup in 1978. He also played in a number of other punk bands, including Vicious White Kids and The Flowers of Romance. He became notorious, however, for the alleged killing of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen in October, 1978. According to Vicious, he awoke on the morning of October 12th only to find Nancy dead on their bathroom floor in a Manhattan hotel. He had been using drugs heavily the night before and claimed that he had stabbed Nancy but never meant to kill her. Nevertheless, he was arrested and charged with murder. He was released on bail, and attempted suicide twice while awaiting trial for the famous murder. When he attended a small party on February 1st, 1979 he overdosed on heroin despite attempts to stay clean. After his friends and new girlfriend helped him to bed, he died in his sleep. His mother eventually found a suicide note that read “We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans, and motorcycle boots. Goodbye.”

2: Dog the Bounty Hunter

Duane Chapman is best known for his reality TV program, “Dog the Bounty Hunter” in which he’s chronicled for his experience as a bounty hunter. But in 1976, he was convicted of first degree murder at just 23 years old. Chapman went with three of his friends to the house of Jerry Oliver, a known pimp and drug dealer, in order to buy weed. After an apparent dispute took place, one of the men shot Oliver. When police arrived, Oliver was able to identify his assailants before he died. Police proceeded to arrest Chapman and his friends. The defendants claimed the shooting was accidental and that Chapman was not the one who accidentally shot the gun. The judge handed him a five-year prison sentence while the other three culprits were sentenced to ten years. According to Chapman, it was his time in prison that inspired him to become a bounty hunter.

1: O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson was one of the world’s biggest celebrities when he was arrested in 1994 for the famous murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. After a flourishing career in the NFL, he also had a successful stint as an actor before that fateful day. On June 13th, 1994, Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown—who divorced him after he physically abused her in 1992—was found dead outside her home along with her friend Ronald Goldman. After finding evidence linking Simpson to the murder, the LAPD gave Simpson until 11am on June 17th to surrender. He refused. The ensuing car chase down Interstate 405 with Simpson and his friend Al Cowlings was witnessed by 95 million people on TV as news crews followed the chase in helicopters. When he eventually surrendered, police found $8,000 in cash, a loaded gun (which they were afraid he was going to use to commit suicide), a change of clothes, and a fake mustache and goatee. The trial has been considered to be the most publicized criminal case in American history. The controversial 8-month prosecution featured high profile lawyers such as Robert Shapiro and Johnnie Cochran as part of O.J.’s defense team. The defense argues that drug dealers committed the brutal crimes and that the police then planted evidence to frame O.J. They pointed out that not only was there no murder weapon involved, but also no witnesses to the murders. The prosecution in turn focused on DNA evidence, primarily the trail of blood supposedly left by O.J. as well as Brown’s blood stains found on O.J.’s socks. There was also the infamous gloves. The left-hand glove found at Brown’s home, which had blood particles from Simpson, Brown, and Goldman on it, was a match to the right-hand glove found in Simpson’s home. All this, along with an array of other evidence, was presented to a jury who, after long deliberation, found him not guilty. Since then, the O.J. Simpson case has been under intense debate and remains a controversial subject. In 1997, Goldman’s family filed a civil lawsuit for the wrongful death of Ronald Goldman. Simpson was ordered to pay the family $33.5 million in compensation. That alone, along with all the other evidence, has led many to conclude that he WAS in fact guilty. Additionally, Simpson was charged with robbery in 2007 and in the end, was sentenced to 33 years in prison. He is currently serving his time at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada.


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