Heartless teen brothers killed parents then went on gambling and shopping sprees

The Menendez family seemed to be a perfect model of the American dream in the 1980s – but what went on behind closed doors is another story.

On August 20, 1989, José and Mary “Kitty” Menendez were shot to death in their Beverly Hills home and it took almost seven years to convict their killers.

The culprits were revealed to be their sons Lyle, 21, and Erik Menendez, 18, in what was one of America's most chilling murder cases.

The young men left their parents unrecognisable after firing 15 rounds from two 12-gauge shotguns in an attack so brutal that police originally believed it to be a mob hit from business rivals and a porn executive who had a bone to pick with José.

But the motives turned out to be much more sinister than that…

In the early days of the investigations, the brothers told police they’d gone out that night to see a movie and claimed they had discovered their parent's bodies when they came to retrieve Erik's ID.

911 responders allegedly saw Erik crying on the front lawn when they made it to the house.

However, in the months following, the brothers seemed far from the grieving son's officers had found that night – in fact, they seemed to be celebrating.

Their father was worth $14 million at the time of his death. There was also a $5 million dollar life insurance policy in his name but the sons weren't able to cash it in.

That didn't stop them from making a dent in what they could grab as, within six months, the brothers spent an estimated $700,000 of their father's fortune.

Lyle purchased a Rolex, a Porsche, lots of clothing and a restaurant back in Princeton, where he had been living before the murders.

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Erik splashed the cash on a Jeep Wrangler, a $50,000 personal tennis coach and a $40,000 investment in a rock concert that never happened.

The pair also took exotic vacations together and gambled a lot of the money away as they held out on getting the life insurance payout.

Life seemed perfect and lavish for the Menendez brothers but guilt eventually started eating away at Erik, who confessed their actions to his therapist, Dr Jimmy Oziel.

Oziel's mistress overheard the tape-recorded sessions and informed the police.

Lyle Menendez was arrested on March 8, 1990, in Beverly Hills.

Erik was playing tennis in Israel at the time but came home voluntarily, and was arrested on March 11.

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The battle for the tapes dragged out for 30 months until the Supreme Court of California intervened.

Both boys were indicted on December 7, 1992, and tried separately for murder but both of the jury's deadlocked the trials and they had to declare a miss trial.

According to their defence, both Lyle and Erik had been molested by their father since childhood and they feared they would be killed if they didn't act first.

Physical evidence was also provided by the defence, which are nude and sexual photographs showing Lyle and Erik's genitalia as kids taken by their father but the prosecution continued to push the theory that the murders were done for financial gain, according to Yahoo News.

It took the third jury to find the brothers guilty when they were tried together in a process that took seven years.

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The brothers were sent to separate prisons after being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in 1996.

Lyle was moved to the same housing unit as Erik in April 2018, at the Richard J Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, allowing them to reunite for the first time.

They burst into tears and hugged each other at their first meeting, according to inews.

Both brothers married in prison. Lyle and his wife Anna Eriksson divorced after five years, but Erik and his wife Tammi Ruth Saccoman have stayed married since 1999.

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