After Ray McNeil was shot at his apartment in Oceanside, California, the authorities arrested his wife, Sally McNeil. Since she was the one who called 911 and admitted to the shooting, the ensuing investigation revolved around why the incident happened in the first place and whether it was in self-defense. Netflix’s ‘Killer Sally’ thus focuses on this case and even features an exclusive interview from Sally herself, where she provides her side of the story. So, let’s find out more about her, shall we?
Who is Sally McNeil?
Sally McNeil was born in 1960 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Her mother remarried when she was about three years old, and the young girl didn’t have a great relationship with her stepfather. As per the show, her biological father was an alcoholic and abused her mother even while she was pregnant with her. Court records indicate that Sally had been beaten during her childhood as well. She eventually went to college but had to drop out because she didn’t have enough money to pay for tuition and her parents refused to help. After that, Sally joined the Marines.
By the time she met Ray, a fellow Marine, in 1987, Sally was a mother of two, Shantina and John, from a previous marriage to Anthony Lowden, but even that union was reportedly abusive. It’s also imperative to note she started bodybuilding while in the Marine corps. Sally hence participated in many amateur competitions, even winning the Armed Forced bodybuilding competition in 1990 and placing high in other events. However, her poor serving military record resulted in her demotion.
Sally then made money through wrestling tapes and “muscle worship,” where men would pay to wrestle with her. Therefore, once Ray turned pro following their marriage in 1987 itself, she became the breadwinner for the family. Yet their relationship was filled with violent incidents (even in front of her kids), and Sally claimed it went as far back as him punching her on Day 3 of their union. Over the course of the next few years, his alleged attacks ended in broken bones, bruises, and black eyes for his wife.
All of it culminated on Valentine’s Day 1995 when Sally shot Ray twice with a shotgun after he attacked her, as per her narrative. He later died at the hospital, and she maintained her actions were in self-defense. Nevertheless, the prosecution believed it was a cold-blooded murder and added Sally displayed a pattern of aggressiveness. There were several incidents in 1990, including one when she beat a woman at a bodybuilding competition because she suspected her of having slept with Ray. This resulted in Sally being banned from such competitions for a year.
There was also evidence of Sally being in fights with Ray and, in other instances, attacking people in positions of power like police officers and bouncers. We should mention both Sally and Ray were on steroids at the time of the shooting; the former tested positive for one steroid, whereas the latter had five in his system. Aggression and mood swings have long been attributed to the usage of such drugs.
The prosecution thus eventually implied Sally killed her husband in a fit of rage because he was planning to leave her and that she wanted his life insurance money. Experts for the state then testified that her version of events didn’t align with the evidence at the scene. On the other hand, her defense team iterated she suffered abuse throughout her life before calling a medical professional to the stands, who diagnosed her with Battered Woman Syndrome. This meant she might’ve been sensitive to anything she perceived as dangerous.
Where is Sally McNeil Today?
Despite claiming self-defense, Sally was convicted of second-degree murder with a firearm enhancement in 1996, for which she was sentenced to a total of 19 years to life in prison. While her conviction was soon overturned, it was reinstated upon the state’s appeal in May 2004. She hence served about 25 years behind bars before being released on parole in the summer of 2020. As per the show, Sally initially lived at the Veterans Transition Center in California and worked at a warehouse, yet since then, it appears that she has been enjoying her freedom.
Sally has not only reconnected with her daughter and son, but she’s also forming a relationship with her grandchildren. Apart from that, she’s even a wife — she reportedly met Norfleet Stewart while attending the support groups at the VTC. They soon began dating and, upon taking things slow, as per her standards, ultimately got married. Furthermore, Sally has since learned to use social media and has been active on Facebook, which indicates she now lives in Hephzibah, Georgia, while also spending time in Santa Cruz, California. It seems that she has a new house now and has even set up a garden project to keep herself busy.