Killer Sally (2022)

killer sally poster 2022 tv series documentary episode guide
7.0 Overall Score

An interesting debate about the effects of abuse

Not the best documentary

killer sally title card true crime documentary

Muscles and Murder

On February 14, 1995, bodybuilder Sally McNeil killed her bodybuilder husband Ray McNeil by shooting him twice with a shotgun.  A story of bodybuilding, steroids, wrestling videos, and abuse led to tragedy, and Sally McNeil’s motives and justification is debated both in the courtroom and on the public stage…and Sally’s life and the lives of her children hang in the balance.

Directed by Nanette Burstein, Killer Sally is a true crime documentary.  The three part series premiered on Netflix on November 2, 2022.

I don’t remember the story of Sally McNeil.  I know I would have encountered it.  My parents were big “smut TV” (as they called it) fans, and the trial was all over shows like Hard Copy and others of that type when it was occurring.  It is stated in the documentary that there were tons of “women killers/attackers” at the time with Lorena Bobbitt, Amy Fisher, or even Pamela Smart, and Sally McNeil was just another one…which says something about both society and the crime.

killer sally episode 1 valentines day sally mcneil ray

“Lust at first sight”

There is no doubt that Sally McNeil killed her husband.  Many of these true crime documentaries start with the assumption that a person was framed or didn’t do the crime.  The series starts out with the 911 call of Sally’s confession…the rest of the documentary surrounds the “why” and what happened as a result.

The documentary is rather typical in its structure.  It contains interviews with a majority of the people involved and pretty fairly presents both sides (though prosecuting attorney Daniel Goldstein does come off as rather a cold and heartless showboat character…but it also seems like he’s ok with that).  Providing you don’t look up Sally McNeil while watching it, it also does a decent job keeping the results of everything secret through the course of the three episodes.

killer sally episode 1 valentines day sally mcneil bodybuilder tank

The military’s guns…and Sally’s guns

The real question comes down to almost personal belief:  Did Sally act justly or did she commit premeditated murder?  It is a tough question and probably varies from individual to individual even after watching the movie.  In 1995, the whole concept of spousal abuse was different in perception both publicly and in the minds of the victims.  The idea that Sally was big enough to defend herself also can probably be thrown out because of her relationship with Ray and the fact she had children with him…logic wasn’t probably on her mind because the crime is illogical.  Did she plan to kill Ray?  There probably was a point she made a decision on that in her head, but there might have been no other way out of the situation…even if she had left as she had planned.  Does it mean that it 100% premeditated is the question…and I don’t know that anyone (even Sally) can ever answer that.

killer sally episode 1 valentines day muscle competition ray mcneil

No…not intimidating whatsoever…

The sentencing of Sally is maybe the more difficult part of this whole thing.  I don’t know that Sally would have disagreed that she deserved some jail time, but in comparisons with some crimes and some sentences, the amount of sentence seems really high…especially when there is a bit of doubt surrounding her motivations, intentions, and mental state.  Sally is military…she talks military…she is concise and doesn’t dance around.  That makes it hard to gauge her level of sincerity by many.

Killer Sally is interesting.  It isn’t the best documentary, but it does raise different question than many of the documentaries of similar types.  With so many questions about the long term effects of abuse, the documentary opens up sad questions.  The fact that Sally came from a home with abuse and her children entered homes with abuse despite everything they had seen shows that ingrained logic doesn’t always get the mind to make the right decision…and Sally made the wrong one in her actions.

Killer Sally—Complete Episode Guide:

killer sally episode 1 valentines day ray mcneil

“Valentine’s Day”

Episode 1        Valentine’s Day Release Date:  11/02/22

Sally McNeil finds her gift.  As a member of the military, she discovers her ability for bodybuilding and finds a partner and husband in fellow bodybuilder Ray McNeil.  As  Ray (with the help of steroids) begins to excel in the world of professional bodybuilding, Sally discovers making wrestling videos and private wrestling meetings is making her financially stable.  As tensions rise in the home, the abuse comes to a head.

killer sally episode 2 the death of mr california police question sally mcneil

“The Death of Mr. California”

Episode 2        The Death of Mr. California Release Date:  11/02/22

Ray is dead at the hands of Sally and the police investigate the murder.  With Sally facing trial, Ray’s infidelities come to light but Sally’s violent temper also is uncovered.  Sally’s childhood is recounted by her friend.

killer sally episode 3 the people vs sally mcneil trial daniel goldstein

“The People vs. Sally McNeil”

Episode 3        The People vs. Sally McNeil Release Date:  11/02/22

Sally’s case goes to trial, but Sally finds that she could be her own worst enemy as she wants to take the stand in her own defense…the media, the jury, and the people will judge Sally McNeil.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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