The husband of late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez is reflecting on his wife’s tragic death and the grief he endured after she was murdered by her close friend and business partner, Yolanda Saldivar.
"It was traumatic. It was the hardest thing up until that point that I had ever had to go through," Cris Pérez said on E!’s documentary True Hollywood Story: Death of Innocence. "I [still] miss her face, her laughter. She was just an amazing soul, an amazing spirit.”
Cris went on to detail that some fans blamed him and Selena’s loved ones for not protecting her. “I heard fans that were like, 'How could we let that happen?'” he said, adding: “Come on now. You think that I would let anything happen to her? Like seriously? None of us thought that that was even a possibility."
Saldivar fatally shot the Queen of Tejano Music on March 31, 1995 — just two weeks shy of the superstar's 24th birthday — sending shockwaves throughout Mexico and the world. After Selena was struck with a single bullet inside a motel room in Corpus Christi, Texas, Saldivar sat in her truck outside the inn for nearly 10 hours threatening to kill herself.
The former fan club manager eventually gave herself up to police later that night. In the hours after her death, Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla, told reporters that Saldivar had recently been fired due to discrepancies in financial records. “They resulted in her shooting Selena,” Quintanilla said, according to The New York Times, referring to Saldivar as a “disgruntled employee.”
Saldivar was convicted of first-degree murder on October 23, 1995, and sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility of parole. The hardest part for Cris to grapple with is that his wife was murdered by someone who was close to her. “The fact that one of her friends did that, it's just unbelievable," he said.
Selena was tragically murdered before the completion of her highly anticipated English-language album Dreaming Of You. Cris recalls that “doing the English record” was “always the next goal for her” and, therefore, he and her family “felt like we had to finish it.”
The album posthumously debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart on August 4, 1995. The lead single “Dreaming of You” peaked at No. 22 on the Hot 100 on November 24 of that year.
Cris explained that he will never be able to forget his late wife and the lessons he learned from her. “She taught me a lot,” he said. “I used to never tell people I love them, you know? Or I miss them, or just give them gifts just because. I learned those things and many, many other things from her.”