Celebrities Who Were Murdered By Their Own Fans

In the age of social media and the 24/7 news cycle, celebrities seem more accessible than they actually are. However, even before the advent of the Internet, some obsessive fans took their fandom way too far.

In April 2021, a stalker was arrested outside Taylor Swift's New York City apartment building, per AP. According to police, the man had stated: "She knows that I'm coming here, we're friends." We don't even want to know what might have happened if he had been allowed inside. Barely a month later, actor and director Olivia Wilde was granted a three-year restraining order against a man who kept showing up at her home and leaving notes claiming that they were dating and that he was "struggling to stay sane" (via TMZ). 

Whether it be famous actors, musicians, or athletes, all unfortunately have the potential of being targeted by someone they don't even know with a senseless act of violence. Devotion can quickly and easily turn dangerous, and for the stars listed below, they tragically paid the cost for that with their lives. Here are celebrities who were murdered by their own fans.

John Lennon

On December 8, 1980, 40-year-old Beatles legend and rock icon John Lennon — who eerily predicted his own death — was shot five times in the back outside his Manhattan apartment building by former Beatles fan Mark David Chapman. Why? We still don't know. 

According to the Independent, Chapman has given many conflicting reasons as to why he killed Lennon, such as seeking fame, as well as his spiritual beliefs. In 2010, Chapman stated he had a hit list that included Elizabeth Taylor, Paul McCartney, and late-night legend Johnny Carson, but chose Lennon "out of convenience." He also expressed hatred of Lennon's hit "Imagine," which he believed made the iconic musician a Communist and a hypocrite: "He told us to imagine no possessions and there he was, with millions of dollars and yachts and farms and country estates, laughing at people like me who had believed the lies and bought the records and built a big part of their lives around his music."

A year after the murder, Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison and was denied parole for the 11th time in 2020 (via Rolling Stone). Ironically, Chapman's desire for fame was one of the factors behind his parole denial in 2018, with the board stating that if he was released, "someone may attempt or succeed in harming you out of anger and or revenge, or for the same reason that you did John Lennon, to assume notoriety."

Rebecca Schaeffer

Although the sitcom "My Sister Sam" only enjoyed a brief two-year run, actor Rebecca Schaeffer was the show's breakout star and was set to take Hollywood by storm. That all changed on July 18, 1989, when the 21-year old was shot and killed in the doorway of her Hollywood home by obsessed fan Robert John Bardo, who had been stalking her for three years (via the Los Angeles Times). Bardo repeatedly wrote her letters, but his obsession took a dark turn when he hired a private investigator to find her home address through the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

According to Today, Schaeffer was auditioning for a role in "The Godfather III" and had been expecting the script to be delivered to her door, but was greeted by Bardo instead. He then came back a second time with a .357 handgun. During a jailhouse interview, Bardo revealed that Schaeffer's last words were "Why?...Why?" (via E!). 

Bardo was sentenced to life in prison the following year. The senseless and brutal killing led to the passing of the Driver's Protection Act, which made it a crime to obtain or release personal information from a California resident's DMV records. Schaeffer's "My Sister Sam" co-star, Pam Dawber, told ABC News in 2019 that she still carries guilt over the incident. "I was so devastated, as everyone else was as well. I thought of Rebecca every day of my life probably for two years," she said.

Gianni Versace

On the morning of July 15, 1997, legendary fashion mogul Gianni Versace was walking back to his Miami mansion from a coffee run when he was shot twice in the back of the head by spree killer Andrew Cunanan (via Time). He was 50 years old. According to Vanity Fair, 27-year-old Cunanan claimed to have met the fashion icon in 1990 and bragged that the two were friends. 

Versace's family denied these claims and law enforcement was unable to determine why Versace was targeted. "I don't know that we are ever going to know the answers," Miami Beach Police Chief Richard Barreto said at the time, per CNN. The name behind the iconic fashion brand was the last victim of Cunanan's cross-country murder spree, which claimed the lives of five men. Six days after Versace's murder, Cunanan's body was found on a Miami houseboat, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound (via CNN).

In 2018, the Ryan Murphy-produced "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" hit the airwaves, and Versace's family was not pleased. "The Versace family has neither authorized nor had any involvement whatsoever in the forthcoming TV series about the death of Mr. Gianni Versace," their statement read (via Vanity Fair). "Since Versace did not authorize the book on which it is partly based nor has it taken part in the writing of the screenplay, this TV series should only be considered as a work of fiction."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Christina Grimmie

At the young age of 22, singer Christina Grimmie's career suggested a superstar on the rise. With a third-place finish on "The Voice" and two studio albums under her belt, Grimmie was set to take the music industry by storm. All that promise came crashing down on June 10, 2016, when obsessed fan Kevin Loibl fatally shot her four times during a meet-and-greet following a concert in Orlando.

A witness at the event said that Grimmie opened her arms to her killer, "waiting to greet him with a hug," according to the Daily Mail. Her brother then jumped across the merchandise booth to tackle Loibl, but he managed to escape, then killed himself almost instantly. Described by his friend as loner with an "unrealistic infatuation" with this singer, 27-year-old Loibl "spent most of his waking hours watching Christina on YouTube as well as constantly monitoring her social media accounts" and even went to great lengths to change his appearance with rapid weight loss, Lasik, teeth whitening, and hair implants, so he would be more attractive to his obsession (via the Orlando Sentinel).

Due to the lax security that didn't detect Loibl's two handguns, Grimmie's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the venue six months after her death. However, three years later, the lawsuit was dropped with no explanation given, per Orlando's Fox 35.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Dimebag Darrell

On December 8, 2004, legendary Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell was performing with his new band, Damageplan, at a Columbus, Ohio nightclub. Tragedy struck during the band's first song, when a fan named Nathan Gale rushed the stage while reportedly shouting, "You broke up Pantera!" He then shot the rock god in the head (via the New York Daily News). Darrell was just 38. Gale then shot and killed a bouncer and two concertgoers, and also took a hostage, before being killed by a police officer.

Gale's former friend, Jeramie Brey, told the Columbus Dispatch (via USA Today) that the eventual killer would write down Pantera lyrics and try to pass them off as his own. "He was off his rocker," Brey said. "He said they were his songs, that Pantera stole them from him and that he was going to sue them." Another friend told the New York Daily News that Gale idolized Pantera's lead singer, and that the band's breakup pushed the 25-year-old over the edge. "He was hard-core into Pantera," he said.

In 2010, a protective fence was erected around Darrell's grave after several vandalism attempts. "It's just a real disrespectful thing," Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul told Artisan News. "I don't understand why somebody would wanna scratch their name in somebody's tombstone or anything. But fans are rabid, man; they do unheard-of things. I just wish they would respect him and let him rest in peace and just leave it at that."

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez

Already known as the "Queen of Tejano music," Latina singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (known the world over as simply "Selena") was set to crossover into pop superstardom with the release of her first English-language album, 1995's "Dreaming of You." Unfortunately, she wouldn't live to see its monumental success. On March 31, 1995, Selena was lured to a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi, Texas, where she was shot and killed by the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldivar (via The New York Times). She was only 23.

32-year-old Saldivar then fled to her pickup truck in the motel's parking lot, where she threatened suicide for 10 hours, before being arrested by authorities. Selena's father stated that Saldivar had recently been fired from managing the chart-topper's boutique for embezzling funds. In 2012, Saldivar's brother told TMZ that she was carrying out her life sentence in solitary confinement due to her own safety.

Andres Escobar

Mistakes in sports happen everyday, but Colombia's Andres Escobar paid for his with his life. Heavily favored to win the World Cup on June 23, 1994, Colombia lost in a shocking 2-1 upset to the United States after Escobar, attempting to block a shot, kicked the ball into his team's own net.

10 days after the match, Escobar was partying with friends at Restaurante el Indio in Medellin, when three people began shouting insults at him — and the situation quickly escalated into deadly violence. "All of a sudden, we heard gunfire, and then Escobar was on the ground, groaning and clutching his chest," witness Jorge Arango said (via Time), with one of the perpetrators reportedly saying, "Thanks for the auto-goal, you son of a b***h." Escobar died 45 minutes later after being shot 12 times. He was just 27 years old.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Colombian authorities believed that drug traffickers who lost big on the game marked Escobar for death. The perpetrator in question, Humberto Munoz Castro, was sentenced to 42 years in prison, but was released after only 11, per Fox News.

A year after his death, Escobar's family created the Andres Escobar Social Project, a soccer program for disadvantaged youth. "We are not trying to produce great soccer players–rather, great human beings," his father said (via the Los Angeles Times). "The school's main objective is to teach children values so that they say no to drugs and to theft."

Mikhail Lermontov

Widely considered one of Russia's great poets and leading voice in Russian Romanticism, Mikhail Lermontov was shot and killed at the age of 26, when his friend, Nikolai Martynov, challenged him to a duel. According to Russia Beyond, Lermontov was also a rising author and painter, who was reportedly "very spoiled" and relentlessly tormented his friends with "harsh jokes" and "mean caricatures" that gave him the reputation of being a "spiteful and acerbic person." It is believed that Lermontov talked so much trash that Martynov decided to kill him.

Moscow Times reports that in 1841, Martynov — Lermontov's former military schoolmate — challenged the outspoken poet to a duel at the base of the Mashuk mountain after Lermontov "mocked him for mimicking a romantic hero." Lermontov fired his gun into the air, but was shot through the heart and died instantly. His funeral was attended by thousands of mourners.

Albert Ebossé

On August 23, 2014, Cameroonian soccer star Albert Ebossé died after a match in Nigeria. He was just 24 years old. According to The Guardian, Ebossé was allegedly struck in the head by a flying projectile thrown by angry fans. However, a Cameroonian pathologist, Dr. Andre Moune, pushed back on the cause of death three months later by stating that Ebossé's wounds were more consistent with a brutal beating (via The Guardian). The autopsy report revealed that Ebossé suffered a "an indentation of the skull" and a "rupture of his cervical vertebrae" that the doctor believed was caused by a knife.

"When you see the injuries to his shoulders, the only way that can be explained is by a physical attack," Moune told BBC TV (via BBC Sport). "Shortly after his death, we saw a video of Ebossé, after the match, surrounded by police and leaving the pitch to enter the dressing room," he continued. "We didn't see anything happen to him on the pitch or anything that prevented him leaving the pitch because of a missile. It can't be a slate tile, as the Algerians stated in their report, because if someone threw a tile, even at high speed, it couldn't cause such severe wounds like the ones I found on the body."

At the time of this writing, nobody has been charged with Ebossé's death, and the questions about the cause remain.