Was it Self Defense, or Was Bodybuilder Sally McNeil Really “Killer Sally”
In light of the recent Netflix docuseries, it may be a good time to discuss a dark event in the bodybuilding community. That dark event would be the murder of IFBB bodybuilder Ray McNeil, which was done by none other than his bodybuilder wife, Sally McNeil, dubbed “Killer Sally” McNeil.
This article will go over the murder and the impact it had on the bodybuilding community.
Sally McNeil met Ray McNeil when she was first getting into bodybuilding in the late 80s. Both were serving in the United States Marine Corps at the time. To make a long story short, they were married within two months of dating. Sally had two kids from her previous marriage, Shantina and John.
Both were heavily involved in the fitness industry. They competed, and Sally also did wrestling on the side. Not in the WWE or anything like that, but where men would pay her to come and wrestle them. This is where she earned the nickname “Killer Sally”. This helped pay the bills because bodybuilding certainly is not a cheap sport.
Anyway, the two competed in bodybuilding for years. Ray was a rising star in the industry, going pro and competing on the Mr. Olympia stage amongst top pros like Dorian Yates and Shawn Ray. Sally was right by his side from the start, all the way until the end. She even went as far as driving to Tijuana with her children to purchase steroids for Ray. But even with all the admiration, what went on behind closed doors was much darker.
The Dark Side
Although she adored Ray, Sally stated that was abusive throughout their time together. It was said throughout their marriage, Ray wanted Sally to do everything for him. As any bodybuilder is, Ray was very hard on himself. This in turn resulted in him being hard on Sally and her children.
Ray was said to have not only used his hands to spank the children, but also a belt, hitting one and forcing the other to watch. Ray was also allegedly prone to choking and punching Sally in the face. However, she had a record of being violent as well, even being arrested previously for beating up a mailman. She also beat a woman who she accused of sleeping with Ray.
Ray was also said to have had a mistress. This is allegedly where he was coming home from the night he was murdered. It was actually said that Ray “got around”, due to him being on the road for bodybuilding, working out in a lot of different gyms, and just being in other places. Sally also threatened his mistress by phone, stating she would “kick her a**”.
While many claimed Ray was a “gentle giant”, Sally claimed that she was a battered woman. This all came to an end in 1995.
On Valentine’s Day 1995, Ray McNeil was shot twice, ultimately ending his life. He was shot by his wife Sally McNeil. She claimed that he was abusive towards her, and her children also said he was abusive towards them as well. The incident took place as the two were engaged in a physical altercation.
It was Valentine’s Day, and Ray had come home as Sally was getting ready to go out and look for him. Ray was angry with her for getting ready to go out, while she was angry that he was gone all day. This is when the two engaged in a physical altercation, resulting in Ray choking out Sally. But, the tables turned when Sally finally snapped.
The McNeil’s had a sawed off shotgun in the bedroom that Sally said was for home defense. The night of the murder, this is the weapon Sally retrieved and used on the 6’2, 240lb man she said was attacking her. Sally had shot Ray in the abdomen, reloaded, and then shot him again in the face. She claimed it was self-defense, but the prosecution said she lived up to the name “Killer Sally” McNeil.
Sally is said to be a victim of “battered woman syndrome” which is similar to post traumatic stress disorder. She claims to have been so traumatized by Ray’s abuse, that she felt there was no other way out. The night it took place, she thought that she was going to die at the hands of Ray McNeil, so she shot him.
The prosecution played a lot on Sally’s violent tendencies. She was a marine, she beat up people, she threatened them, she was known as “Killer Sally McNeil” in her wrestling videos. More importantly, she reloaded.
The night she killed Ray, Sally went out of her way to the bedroom to retrieve the gun. She claimed she had an extra shotgun shell in her hand and reloaded with that. However, evidence suggested that she shot Ray, walked to the bedroom to get another shell, then came back and shot him in the face.
Below is a video on Killer Sally McNeil’s court appearances after the shooting. The video also touches on the steroid usage.
The Sentencing of Killer Sally
While “Killer Sally” was found not guilty on the charges of first degree murder, she couldn’t escape the charges of murder in the second degree. Sally served 25 years in prison. She was released in 2020, and is now remarried and living life.
The Affect of Killer Sally Effect on Bodybuilding
This was no ordinary killing. It was two bodybuilders that were involved. The media was quick to put this into the headlines as well.
This in turn put the bodybuilding industry in a bad light. Many were quick to blame steroid abuse, “roid rage”, as the underlying cause of not only the murder, but the constant abuse that came to light after the murder After an autopsy, Ray was found to be on five different steroids at the time of the killing. Sally was also tested and found to be on one type of steroid.
This case feeds the stereotype that bodybuilders are angry and aggressive. One bodybuilder with a history of a violent personality takes the life of another bodybuilder who was said to be abusing her and her children. It is a bad look for the bodybuilding industry.
However, do not let this make you think badly of bodybuilders. One bad instance does not account for the whole of the community. Even steroids should not be blamed here, as plenty of people use them and do not abuse or kill their spouses or others. (We are not advocating for steroids).
The point is, just because they were both bodybuilders does not mean that is the reason any of this happened. Bodybuilders typically are “gentle giants”. There is much more to the sport than just steroids, diet, and lifting. There is feelings, mindset, and heart. Do not let this incident take away from that.
Overall, the case of Killer Sally McNeil is a complex one. A history of abuse and aggression spouting from both Ray and Sally, steroid usage, mistresses, and much more. This sounds like something right out of a movie.
What do you think? Was Sally McNeil really “Killer Sally”? Or was she a battered woman that fell victim to the abuse of bodybuilder Ray McNeil? Let us know what you think!