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Why is TikTok Obsessed With The Menendez Brothers (Eric & Lyle) Who Shot & Killed Their Father In Cold Blood?

In 1989 18-year-old Eric and 21-year-old Lyle Menendez purchased two shotguns in a different town, paying cash and using fake ID’s. Two days later the brothers shot their father, entertainment manager, Jose Menendez to death, reloaded and continued to blow their mother, beauty-queen Kitty Menendez away.

It was a pretty cut and dry case after the two men admitted what they had done to a friend and a psychologist and after two trials, were both sentenced to life in prison. So why is this 32 year old closed case suddenly back in the news? Social Media and Gen Z.

Why is TikTok obsessed with The Menendez Brothers?

Teens who weren’t even alive when the crime happened, who didn’t get to see the headlines, or experience the media hype are jumping to the defense of Eric and Lyle, claiming the two men didn’t get a fair trial. Make that trials.

Firing up TikTok and searching for The Menendez Brothers will bring you to video after video of slo-mo footage of the young men, sultry music playing in the background while teen girls squeal over the “hottest criminals ever.”

They really weren’t girls, even by late 80’s/early 90’s standards…take it from someone who was just about your age at the time. But I digress.

However, if you keep searching, you will blow past the misguided, in desperate need to go back to a real social life, pandemic-bound fangirls and you will find a slew of other videos showing clips from the trials and the Menendez brothers’ shocking claims of sexual abuse at the hands of their father.

The brothers claim this abuse is what ultimately led them to murder both their parents. This claim only appeared after the pair had been caught in their initial lie: that they had happened upon their parent’s bodies after coming home from a night at the movies.

Funny, but not many of these videos mention that, or how the brothers, who still lived in their parent’s palatial Beverly Hills home with their alleged abuser, even though they were adults, were about to be removed from their parents’ wills and, four days after they literally blew their father’s head from his shoulders, took the $700 000 life insurance money and went on a shopping spree.

The two snapped up luxury watches, sports cars and even invested in a restaurant clear on the other side of the country near Princeton University where Lyle had been a student…until he was suspended for plagiarism in his freshman year.

Oh, the brothers had also recently been involved in a string of burglaries in their wealthy Beverly Hills neighborhood and once wrote a screenplay about a young man who shoots his parents in order to inherit millions of dollars.

If not blinded by the murdering brothers’ looks, the TikTokers are definitely taken with the brothers’ impassioned testimony about enduring years of horrific sexual abuse…that they had never once spoken about with their aforementioned therapist.

“Watching someone describe these types of experiences is always very sad and very compelling,” says an 18-year-old German woman named Janne. Janne who has close to 45,000 followers, posts videos of their sexual-abuse testimony set to sad music on her TikTok.

She, and many, many other TikTokers also talk about the case and trial, impressing others on the social media platform with their knowledge on the legally complex case and use of legal jargon.

No matter how many times the trial is pulled apart, no one will ever truly know if the sexual abuse claims were true or false. The TikTokers, however, believe that Lyle and Eric’s tearful claims weren’t taken as seriously in the early 90s as they would be in the post #MeToo movement 2020s.

They may have a point as one person involved in the trial said she believed “men couldn’t be raped” as they “didn’t have the right equipment”. Nonetheless, the two brothers, constantly called “The Boys” even though they were adults at the time of the shooting, did get two juries (one for each brother) come back as hung. I’m not sure where the “not taken seriously” part comes in here.

The brothers were tried a second time, this time with only one jury. What is really getting up the TikToker’s skirts about the second trial, that was not filmed, is the judge’s ruling that the “imperfect self-defense,” which had previously been argued so effectively, was inadmissible.

This was determined due to the defense teams failing to prove sufficiently that Kitty Menendez had treated her sons in any way that might have provoked them to kill her.

Neither Erik nor Lyle took the stand for their second trial, a con for the defense in that they would not be able to provide the tearful statements of abuse that have TikTokers the world over weeping, but on the plus side, negated the risk of cross-examination picking holes in their stories.

Much to the dismay of the 13-18 year old (the key TikTok demographic) owners of several accounts with usernames like “MenendezHelper” and “MenendezGuardians”, the third jury came back with a verdict for each brother.

These 12 men and women deduced that no matter the motive, be it that “The Boys” were terrorized by years of sexual, physical and emotional abuse or whether greed alone had driven the men to execute their parents as they watched TV, shooting them 15 times (including that reload) in cold blood, the pair were guilty and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences each.

The large group of TikTokers, who have posted thousands of videos in defense of the Menendez brothers that have garnered around 175 million views are calling for a retrial, hoping their numbers will be large enough and loud enough to be heard. It has happened in other instances, but many believe, in this criminal case that stunned viewers in the 90s and had us glued to our televisions, it won’t.

Other Gen Zers are calling for a stop to the romanticizing the Menendez brothers, with  an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times High School Insider saying in part, “I do not know if the brothers were abused.

All that I know for certain is that these rich, white, Beverly Hills boys murdered their parents and still were not stripped of their privilege. We must stop blindly defending white criminals, while simultaneously not giving criminals of color a second glance.”

It seems as though these TikTokers could be using their time more productively. Hey guys, have you ever heard of a girl named Jon Benet Ramsey? Solve that case and I might start showing some interest in these TikTok videos of yours!

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