Bodybuilder 'Killer Sally' McNeil's Disturbing History Of Violence

"Killer" Sally McNeil pulled the trigger of the sawed-off shotgun and sent a spray of pellets into the abdomen of her husband Ray on Valentine's Day, 1995. She reloaded the weapon and fired it again, this time catching the severely wounded man in the jaw. She then picked up the phone and dialed 911, telling the operator that she had just shot her abusive husband out of self-defense. McNeil and her husband had been married since the late 1980s, the couple having met through their mutual love of bodybuilding. They both spent time preparing for and competing in bodybuilding competitions, with McNeil having her separate side hustle: She put her Marine Corps skills and brute strength to use wrestling men for money. This gig would pay as much as $300 an hour, and earned her the nickname "Killer Sally" (via Digital Spy).

But Ray was said to have had an abusive hold on the woman who could best many of the men she fought in the ring. His extreme use of anabolic steroids made him prone to "roid rage" incidents, resulting in his physical abuse of both McNeil and her two young children from a previous marriage (per Generation Iron). She would later claim that his continuous infidelity and the brutality he inflicted on her became too much for her to bear.

The "battered wife" defense didn't hold up in court, as McNeil was found guilty and sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. Whether or not she was subjected to Ray's abuse, it became apparent that McNeil had quite a temper of her own.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

McNeil was demoted in the Marines due to her behaviors

McNeil had family members she looked up to who were in the armed services. Screen Rant reveals that both her uncle and brother were enlisted men, and she soon found herself among their ranks after divorcing the father of her children. As a Marine, she began competitive bodybuilding. Twice she won the U.S. Armed Services Physique Championships. 

McNeil rose to the enlisted rank of sergeant. But in 1990, behavioral problems led to her superiors stripping her of those stripes. She had developed a reputation for "lashing out" at other Marines and was known for some pretty serious anger issues. These problems not only caused her to lose her rank but also kept her from being able to re-enlist once her time was up. The anger issues and violence spilled over into her civilian life. Ray was constantly cheating on McNeil, creating some pretty volatile situations. In one incident, McNeil approached Ray's current mistress and attacked her. Witnesses recall how McNeil had the woman pinned to the floor and was pummeling her with her fists. This violent outburst resulted in the National Physique Committee handing her a one-year suspension from competitive bodybuilding.

McNeil seemed to have quite a violent streak in her. The Valentine's Day murder wasn't the only time she ever brandished a gun, either. She was arrested at one point for pulling out a gun and pointing at Ray's face. When the police arrived, McNeil was hit in the face with pepper spray, perhaps saving Ray's life.

Violence begets more violence

In yet another example of McNeil's violent history, she once threatened to kill police officers sent to arrest her. Screen Rant reports McNeil being disorderly in a club one evening, dancing on some of the tables. When the club owner demanded that she stop, she attacked him. McNeil kicked the man multiple times in the face before police arrived. She responded to police demands for her to calm down with threats of violence toward them. Did McNeil kill her husband out of fear, or was it her jealousy of Ray's mistresses and horrendous temper that led to her killing him? If the testimony of McNeil and her children is true, she was the victim of horrific violence at the hands of her husband for many years. But her violent actions and steroid use muddied the waters when it came time for the jury to deliberate (via Generation Iron).

Muscular Development tells of how other evidence led to her guilty verdict. Despite her claims of how Ray was throttling her, there was no evidence of her DNA on his body. Additionally, the second shotgun shell was discovered in another room, leading to the conclusion that McNeil had fired the gun once and then gone into another room to reload before firing the second shot into Ray's face.

McNeil served her sentence and was paroled in 2020. Cosmopolitan reports that she is married to her third husband and is employed in a warehouse. The docuseries "Killer Sally" is streaming on Netflix (the trailer is on YouTube).