14 Celebrities that have killed people

Updated June 20, 2018

We like to elevate our celebrities to a virtually superhuman status. We idolise and even attempt to emulate them, and in the process all-too-frequently forget that they’re people just like us, with stretch-marks, psychological problems and the occasional skeleton lurking in the closet. And in some cases, that skeleton in the closet is all too literal. Most haven’t done so purposefully, and one case in particular seems unfair, but in any case, some celebrities have been responsible for or closely tied to people’s deaths. They might not all be the biggest names, or always particularly current, but there are several examples of celebrities who’ve killed people, like...

\#1 – Matthew Broderick

Best known for his role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Matthew Broderick was driving in Ireland in the late 80s with co-star Jennifer Grey when he was involved in a head-on crash. They were driving on the wrong side of the road, but he wasn’t drunk at the time, ultimately being charged with careless driving and receiving a small fine. A mother and daughter were killed in the accident. Understandably, this was a very troubling experience for both of them, and Grey claimed in 2010 that she never really got over the incident.

\#2 – Oscar Pistorius

Paralympian Oscar Pistorius made headlines after shooting his girlfriend dead on Valentine’s Day 2013. Pistorius claims that he believed that she was in bed, and thought an intruder had entered his house through the bathroom window. He went to investigate, with a gun, and shot straight through the door when he heard a noise inside. Regardless of whether his story is true, it’s understandably risky to fire a deadly weapon through a closed door if you don’t know who’s on the other side. Even if it had been a burglar, the blood would have been on his hands.

Related: CNN: Oscar Pistorius trial: How will the defense fight back?

\#3 – Vince Neil

Motley Crue lead vocalist Vince Neil was partying with members of Hanoi Rocks in 1984 when he and Nicolas Dingley decided to go to buy more alcohol. Drink-driving down to the shop, Neil lost control of the car and ended up in a head-on crash, killing his passenger and severely injuring the people in the other car. He was charged with manslaughter, and was sentenced to a small amount of jail time (as well as five years’ probation), as well as having to pay 2.6 million dollars to the victims and their families.

\#4 – Rebecca Gayheart

Rebecca Gayheart is an American actress best known for her role in the movie Jawbreaker and an advertising campaign for Noxzema, but in 2001 she made headlines for accidentally running over a nine year old boy with her car. Other cars on the road had stopped for the boy, but she pulled out to pass them and ended up hitting him. He eventually died from his injuries, and she was convicted of manslaughter. Gayheart was devastated, paying for the boy’s funeral and attending therapy for years after the incident.

Related: People: A tragic accident, a second chance

\#5 – William S. Burroughs

The writer William S. Burroughs, most well known for the novel Naked Lunch and his huge influence among the “beat” generation, killed his wife Joan Vollmer in the 50s. Reportedly, the incident occurred accidentally, when the couple were drunkenly messing around and Burroughs attempted to shoot a glass off her head. Tragically, he failed, but was not charged with murder due to the nature of the incident.

\#6 – Keith Moon

The Who’s drummer Keith Moon was at a pub in Hertfordshire in January of 1970 with his wife and his driver, and apparently annoyed some skinheads because of his “rock star” status. They chased him from the pub, but by the time they made it to the car it was surrounded and being pelted with coins. Moon’s driver got out in an attempt to calm the crowd and clear a path for escape, and the drunken and terrified drummer sped away. At the end of the driveway, Moon and his wife realised that the chauffeur's skull had been crushed under the car. He wasn’t charged with murder, but the horror of the event stuck with him throughout his life.

\#7 – Lane Garrison

Prison Break actor Lane Garrison committed manslaughter at age 26, while driving both drunk and high on cocaine. He crashed his SUV, killing a 17 year old in the process, and was sentenced to 40 months in prison for his crime. The judge remarked that he was clearly remorseful, but stood firm by his decision because the public needed to know that crimes such as this were punished.

Related: TMZ: Lane Garrison sentenced to prison

\#8 – Sid Vicious

Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious is one of the most well-known murderers on this list, having almost certainly killed his groupie, ex-prostitute girlfriend Nancy Spungen. After developing a heroin addiction, the couple lived in a New York hotel and he became unable to so much as play bass at the few gigs his band booked. On the night of the murder, he was unconscious or effectively out-of-it but playing with a knife. She was unable to score drugs, and the morning after she was found stabbed in the bathroom. Vicious overdosed and died before the trial.

\#9 – Brandy Norwood

The singer Brandy, also known for her role as a judge on American Idol, was involved in a car accident which led to the death of one driver. Awatef Aboudihaj, the victim, had struck the car in front previously, but Brandy slammed into the back of her car and caused her death. The event was obviously disturbed her, and the singer immediately claimed responsibility, repeating “I should have stopped” after the incident.

\#10 – Duane “Dog” Chapman (A.K.A. Dog the Bounty Hunter)

Dog the Bounty Hunter, ordinarily seen chasing ice-heads around Hawaii, habitually offering people cigarettes and helping them find Christ as part of his family business-turned-reality-TV-programme, has seen his fair share of issues with the law. The incident occurred in the 70s, when a friend of Dog’s went to buy cannabis from a dealer, ended up in an argument and shot him dead. Although Dog was reportedly in the car at the time, he claims that in Texas at the time if you were in the vicinity of the crime, you were treated as just as guilty. Although he apparently didn’t commit murder, he was convicted of it, but was released after 18 months after being a “model inmate” in prison.

Related: Huffington Post: 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' murder conviction prevents Duane Chapman from appearing on 'Celebrity Big Brother'

\#11 – Charles S. Dutton

Charles S. Dutton’s biggest role was probably in Aliens 3, but he’s the sort of actor you recognise from numerous different films (Secret Window and Gothika are two examples). He doesn’t seem like a likely actor to have taken somebody’s life, but in 1968, he got into an altercation with a man who he ended up killing, at the age of just 17. He served seven years for manslaughter, but just before his release was caught with a deadly weapon and received an additional three year sentence. It wasn’t until after this stint in prison – during which he set up a prison drama group – that he got his break in acting.

\#12 – Felicia Pearson

The Wire’s Felicia Pearson (both the character and actress’ name) was convicted of second-degree murder at the age of 14. She spent her youth working as a drug dealer, and during this time – although unrelated to her dealings – she shot and killed a girl she didn’t even know. Pearson was sentenced to eight years in prison, and was released after serving five in 2009.

Related: City Paper: Felicia's journey

\#13 – Johnny Lewis

Known for his role in Sons of Anarchy, Johnny Lewis’ life didn’t end too pleasantly. In 2012, the actor strangled his 81 year old landlady and dismembered her cat before being fleeing the scene while being chased by neighbours. He eventually climbed on top of the roof of his house, and either jumped or fell to his death. There was no clear motive for the murder, and despite speculations about drugs the autopsy confirmed he was sober at the time of the event.

Related: NY Daily News: Johnny Lewis, Katy Perry’s ex and ‘Sons of Anarchy’ actor, did not have drugs in his system when he died: report

\#14 – Don King

Big-haired boxing promoter Don King has actually killed two people. The first incident occurred when somebody was trying to break into his house but was shot by King, and as such was classed as a “justifiable homicide” due to self defence. The second killing wasn’t quite so pardonable, though, given that King stomped one of his employees to death, reportedly for owing him money.

Related: 13 Sports personalities found guilty of heinous crimes

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Lee Johnson has written for various publications and websites since 2005, covering science, music and a wide range of topics. He studies physics at the Open University, with a particular interest in quantum physics and cosmology. He's based in the UK and drinks too much tea.