Death Of A Diva

April 02, 1995|By New York Times News Service

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- As fans streamed to Corpus Christi by the thousands to mourn Selena, the 23-year-old diva of Latin pop music who was slain here Friday, the police announced that they had arrested the founder and former president of the Selena Fan Club and charged the woman with murder.

The 32-year-old suspect, Yolanda Saldivar, a registered nurse in San Antonio who had recently been dismissed as an employee of Selena's family's boutique, was being held in jail after surrendering late Friday.

She had held the police at bay for nearly 10 hours, sitting with a gun in a pickup truck parked in the lot of the Days Inn motel where the killing occurred.

So many fans poured in from south Texas, Mexico and beyond that the Corpus Christi authorities switched a viewing of the singer's body, originally to be held at a local funeral home, to the downtown convention center and said that fans would be able to pay their respects there last night and most of the day today.

On normally quiet Bloomington Street, where Selena and her guitarist brother, Abraham Quintanilla 3d, lived in tidy red-brick houses on either side of their parents' home, hundreds of fans had congregated, many placing flowers or personal notes on a fence in front.

"Selena -- Missing My Baby," read one. "We Love You. From Fans in Laredo, Tex." read another.

The suspect, Ms. Saldivar, was described by Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., as a disgruntled former employee who had been confronted recently by the family with evidence that she had stolen money from the San Antonio boutique, Selena Etc., that she ran but that was owned by the Quintanilla family.

"When we presented her with all the proof that she was embezzling money, she just lost it, I guess," Mr. Quintanilla said yesterday, speaking briefly to reporters outside his home.

"I guess she felt that she was cornered."

He said Selena had gone to the motel after Ms. Saldivar told her to meet her there.

"As far as we know, at this point, it's just strictly this situation that her father described," said Karen Mitchell, emergency communications supervisor for the Corpus Christi police.

Carlos Lopez, general manager of KMIQ, a music station here, said in an interview that Ms. Saldivar was an unmarried nurse from San Antonio who had gone from an adoring Selena fan, to founder of the fan club, to something of a financial adviser to Selena, to manager of the boutique, to the dismissed employee who is accused of pulling the trigger on Friday.

Selena, who was to turn 24 on Easter Sunday, was the star of the Tejano music world -- a modern, urban version of the Tex-Mex accordion-based music called conjunto -- and a Grammy-winning artist whose recording "Amor Prohibido" ("Forbidden Love") sold nearly half a million copies.

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