Inside toxic marriage of Killer Sally who shot bodybuilder husband dead in cold blood – violent rows to 'muscle worship' | The Sun

BODYBUILDER Sally McNeill made headlines when she shot her muscleman husband Ray dead in cold blood with a sawn-off shotgun on Valentine's Day in 1995.

But behind closed doors Sally – dubbed a “pumped up princess” and “Brawny Bride” during her murder trial – claims the Mr Universe wannabe beat her and her two children to the point where she feared for her life.

In new Netflix documentary Killer Sally, she gives fresh insight into her toxic marriage to Ray McNeil – insisting she loved him and was a "good wife".

"It’s not like I woke up and decided to kill my husband. I killed the man I loved the most in the world," says the 62-year-old.

When US Marine Sally first laid eyes on Ray in 1987, she'd escaped a violent marriage to the dad of her two children and had taken up bodybuilding “to get bigger and stronger to protect herself".

Ray, also a Marine, was a keen bodybuilder and competed in forces competitions.


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“It was lust at first sight,” Sally says. “He was this big hunk of a man. He looked like the statue of David. He was beautiful. He was polite and kind. I thought I’d found a man who could be a stepdad for my children.”

After a whirlwind romance of just two months, the pair wed and moved into a two bedroom apartment in Oceanside, California.

“When I love somebody, I give them my all,” she says. “You get everything of me.”

Initially Shantina, then four, and John, two, loved their "charismatic" stepdad.

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The couple wed in 1987Credit: Netflix
Ray took steroids to bulk upCredit: Netflix

When Ray left the Army to become a professional bodybuilder, Sally became the breadwinner, working in the kitchens on the base and collecting tin cans to exchange for cash.

As he chased his dream, Ray became obsessed with increasing his bulk from 240lbs (17st 2lb) by another 20lbs.

“Everyone (in bodybuilding) was on steroids back then,” says Sally. “You’re in the top five, you’re on steroids.”

Sally, who also dabbled in the performance-enhancing drugs, would frequently travel across the Mexican border to bulk buy them – with the two kids in the car.

But steroids can increase aggression – and led to frequent rows.

“(Steroid use) was a very taboo subject in my family,” says Shantina. “Then my parents were arguing a lot more.”

'Muscle worship'

Money was tight, so when Sally was offered £45 an hour to star in videos which saw musclebound females wrestling with men, she jumped at the chance.

She soon realised there was a lucrative trade among the fans of ‘muscle worship’ who were turned on by beefy women.

In one video, which came back to haunt her during the trial, she is seen lifting her hulk-like husband.

Sally set up her own production company and, after leaving the Marines in 1993, charged for one-on-one ‘private time’ with men who paid women to beat them up, wrestle with them or humiliate them.

I was disgusted. It was bizarre, but I was making so much money that it compensated for the bad feelings. The money – $300 an hour – outweighed the dark side of it

“I would wrestle these men at a hotel, at their house or my own apartment,” she recalls.

“There were Wall Street guys to garbage workers. Actually the garbage truck guys smelled better than Wall Street guys. They stank like they had just gone to the bathroom and then came to wrestle me.

"I was disgusted. It was bizarre, but I was making so much money that it compensated for the bad feelings. The money – $300 an hour – outweighed the dark side of it.”

As Ray edged towards his ‘Holy grail’ of winning Mr Universe – which he finally qualified for in 1993 – Sally spent over £20,000 on steroids for him in one year alone.

'Jekyll and Hyde'

Although Ray is described as a “gentle giant” by pal DJ Jeffers, Sally and her children claim they saw a different side.

Shantina describes him as “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde," recalling a time he blinded a man by gouging out his eyes while working as a bar bouncer.

“My stepdad was physically abusive to my mother,” she says. “Very physically abusive.”

Sally claims he punched her in the face three days into their marriage, adding: “The first time he choked me I thought he was going to kill me. That was shocking.

“There were a lot of times he would attack me and instantly choke me.

"I should have left him a long time ago. I should have left the third day we were married but he said sorry and he wouldn’t do it again and I believed him.”

At times she says Ray also forced her to have sex with him, against her will, because that “proved she forgave him”.

“He said every orifice in my body belonged to him,” she says.

Violent beatings

John recalls an incident when he broke Sally’s nose as they sat watching TV, which "sounded like someone cracking two bits of wood together".

After she reported him to the sergeant on the army base, Sally says "he beat me into oblivion so I would drop the charges".

The children were also violently beaten. When he got into trouble on his first day at kindergarten, John says Ray beat him with a belt.

“Whenever my sister or myself did anything bad he would call us both into the room and spank one and make the other one watch," he says.

“I remember how torturous it was for me to have to sit there and watch him abuse the crap out of my sister and to know that I was next. I really hated him. He was literally like the devil to me.”

Fatal argument

On February 14, 1995, Ray went out and Sally, who knew he was having an affair, decided to walk to his favourite bar to see if he was there.

Ray returned as she was putting on make-up and they rowed.

Sally adds: “He hit me then started choking me. I was scared."

Fearing she wouldn't "make it through the night" Sally ran to the bedroom and grabbed the shotgun she kept for “security”, loading it as she walked back to the living room.

“I had no idea what he was capable of doing,” she says. “He had five different steroids in him. He was superhuman.”

I had no idea what he was capable of doing. He had five different steroids in him. He was superhuman

When he refused to leave, Sally shot him twice before Shantina ran from her room in terror.

“There was blood everywhere and it smelled like copper,” she recalls.

Sally then called the emergency services who took Ray to hospital, arrested her and took the children.

“I had to walk over his body as he was bleeding and to tell you the truth it was a relief,” says John. “Even if he lived he would never be able to beat me, my mother and my sister ever again.”

Kids' heartbreak

Footage from inside the police station shows 12-year-old Shantina telling cops: “I don’t like when they argue like that. My dad’s too big to hit my mum.”

Told Ray is dead, Sally sobs: “I didn’t want it to be that way. I just wanted him to stop hitting me.”

Reunited with her children briefly, Sally is seen telling them they will have to go to a children's home “because of what I did to Dad”.

John begs his mum: “Tell them he was going to kill you, show them the marks on you. It was self-defence.”

'Pumped up Princess'

During the trial prosecutors raised numerous incidents of violence perpetrated by Sally, including a physical attack on a love rival who got too close to Ray at a bodybuilding event.

John also recalls his mum beating up a school dad who slapped him after he got into a fight. It took five police officers to drag her away as she fought them off.

Prosecutor, Daniel Goldstein painted her as a "bully and a thug" and a jealous woman who lost her temper because Ray was planning to leave her for his mistress, Marianne Myers.

"A violent person can’t be a battered woman," he claimed.

Sally's defence lawyer urged her not to lift weights and to ditch her shoulder pads to look more slight.

The jury found her guilty of first degree murder and she spent 25 years in a California jail before being released in 2020, to be reunited with her children and Shantina's son.

Shantina had also endured an abusive relationship, while John slipped into drug addiction and mistreated his own wife before getting help.

“My entire life has been violence,” he says. “I don’t want to be around violence any more.”

Sally has now remarried, having met husband Stuart at a support group for ex-cons.

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“I didn’t deserve the sentence I got,” she says. “But I don’t care anymore, I’m free.”

Killer Sally is on Netflix now.

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