Sal Mineo Murder Site
Sal Mineo was an actor, director, and singer who was murdered near his home in West Hollywood in 1976 at the young age of 37. Mineo was born in 1939 into a family of Italian immigrants living in the Bronx. As a young teenager, he played a minor role in Tennessee's William's The Rose Tattoo and landed the understudy part for the Crown Prince of Siam in The King and I. His breakthrough role, which also garnered him an Academy Award nomination, came in 1955 when he played Plato Crawford in Rebel Without a Cause, opposite to James Dean. Along with numerous other roles, Mineo’s performance helped him rise in popularity. However, concerns about typecasting and being considered “too old” arose starting in his mid 20s, making his transition to adult roles difficult. Additionally, he had to deal with emerging rumors about his sexuality and conflicting feelings on how open to be about it. With time, Mineo became more accepting of his homosexuality both publicly and personally, and in 1967, he directed Fortune and Men’s Eyes, a LGBT-themed play. With his age and homosexual label, good acting roles became more and more challenging to obtain, but Mineo also appreciated the relieving pressure that came with less fame, as it allowed him to be more open with his relationships with men.
On February 12, 1976, Monica Merrem, a 9 year old neighbor sitting in her bedroom, heard the shouts of a man calling for help. Another neighbor, Roy Evans, rushed to the alleyway and identified Mineo, struggling to stay alive after being stabbed (Jeffers, 173). As more people came over, an ambulance was called, even though it seemed too late. Detectives found money still left in Mineo’s jacket, hypothesizing that the evidence pointed to a personal motive rather than a random robbery. Later, a LAFD paramedic pronounced Sal Mineo dead at 9:55 PM (Jeffers, 175). For years his murder remained a mystery, with some speculating that his homosexuality being the motive behind the crime. In 1979, Lionel Williams was put on trial for Mineo’s murder after being overheard bragging about the “accomplishment” to fellow inmates in a Michigan jail (Jeffers, 191).
On the night of his death, Mineo had been coming home from a rehearsal for the popular play P.S. Your Cat is Dead, optimistic about the role’s potential to get his acting career back up. His footstone can be found in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.
Information presented here is from a text by H. Paul Jeffers in Sal Mineo: His Life, Murder, and Mystery published by Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. in 2000.
File No. 76-1953 (Mineo’s Case Report Number)
Cause of Death: massive hemorrhage due to stab wound to the chest perforating the heart
Time of Death: around 21:30 (9:30 PM) on 2-12-76
Name of Deceased: Sal Mineo
Color/Race: Caucasian, medium complexion
Date of Birth: 1-10-39
Age: 37 years
Usual Residence: 8569 Holloway Dr. Apt 1
Weight: 144 Pounds
Height: 68 Inches
Describe How Injury Occurred: by unknown person(s)
- No surgical wounds or tattoos or other deformities
- Fresh abrasion of the left gluteal region
- Small hemorrhage of the subcutaneous tissue of the scalp
*Excerpts from Sal Mineo’s Autopsy Case Report (Jeffers, p. 175)
Jeffers, Paul H. Sal Mineo: His Life, Murder and Mystery. Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 2000.