What they did, at around 10 p.m. on Aug. 20, 1989, was shoot their parents to death in their Beverly Hills mansion, a 9,000-square-foot Mediterranean-style home previously leased by the likes of Prince and Elton John before Jose and Kitty Menendez bought it less than a year before the murders.
Jose, a 45-year-old entertainment executive, was shot point-blank in the back of the head with a 12-gauge shotgun and was found in the den, where he and his wife of 26 years, Kitty, 47, had been watching a movie. Kitty tried to get away, and was found lying in a pool of blood in the hallway, shot in the arms, chest and face. Both were also shot in the kneecap, which was supposed to make it look like a professional hit job.
Surprised to not hear any sirens after making all that noise, the brothers got in the car and dumped the guns somewhere off of Mulholland Drive, then threw the spent shotgun shells and their bloody clothes in a dumpster at a gas station. They bought movie tickets in Century City for a film they didn’t see, then went to Santa Monica, where they tried to find one of Lyle’s friends who could serve as an alibi; unable to find the guy, they drove back home.
At 11:47 p.m., 21-year-old Lyle called 911, sobbing to the dispatcher, “Somebody killed my parents!” (Law & Order did its own version of the crime in which the killer wasn’t the son, but it started with the young man crying into the phone that his parents were dead. The call was also parodied in The Cable Guy, in which the world is awaiting the verdict on a former child star accused of killing his twin brother, both played by Ben Stiller.)
The Menendezes told police they’d gone to the movies to see the latest Bond film License to Kill, but the line was too long so they saw Batman. Afterward, they said they went to the annual “Taste of L.A.” festival in Santa Monica and then returned home to find their parents had been brutally murdered.
A bodyguard Lyle hired for about 10 days testified that his client said his parents were “murdered by either the cartel or the mob and he was in fear for his life.”