Sally McNeil... This is My Story: Part 1

In April 1996, professional bodybuilder Sally McNeil was given a sentence of 19 years-life for the shotgun slaying of her husband (and fellow bodybuilder) Ray McNeil.

1sallyIt was no secret that Sally and Ray had a volatile relationship and had fought violently on many occasions, mostly triggered by Ray's many affairs with other women. However, on Valentine's Day 1995 the fight between the pair (reportedly about the cost of the chicken Ray was cooking) would be their last.

Sally McNeil was convicted of second-degree murder and sent to prison. Court records from the time state that she was not given the chance to argue that the death was manslaughter and that she was indeed ‘psychologically damaged' from Ray's abuse.

Up until now, little has been heard from Sally (for obvious reasons!). However, for the first time ever, we present to you Sally's full  account  of events on that fateful night.  We also get some insight as to how she's feeling today and what her plans are for when she's finally released...

First of all, for those unfamiliar with your case, tell us when you were arrested and how long your prison sentence was?

"I was arrested early in the morning of 15th February 1995. The police took me in after I called 911. They questioned me, my children and neighbors all through the night. On 19th March 1996 I was found guilty of 2nd degree murder and on 19th April 1996 I was sentenced to 19 years to life.

"In the state of California, lifers do not get half time. Once we have done 85% of our time we go in front of a Parole Board to see if they will grant Parole. I knew a woman named Lori Sue who did 31 years on a 7 to life...a woman named Karen did 24 years on a 15 to life sentence. I have been incarcerated now for 13 years."

In your absence from the scene how do you feel about the way you have been presented on the Internet?

"From the stuff my friends send me, I have not been represented fairly on the Internet. I should never have done that Teagan Clive interview in 1996 after I was convicted of 2nd degree murder. I wanted to tell my side of the story, so I told her what really happened. She put what I said sure, but underneath it she put the DA's version of events and his motive was to win at all costs. My military (Sally is a former marine) health records were mysteriously incomplete. All the injuries I suffered were not mentioned.

sally_mcneil"Ray was very insecure and this made him very jealous. He was afraid of losing me to somebody who would have treated me better. He broke my little toe in Okinawa, Japan when he threw me out of the bath tub. He broke my nose when he punched me in the face because I told him the reason my shoulders were not developed (or ‘weak' as he said) was because he wrenched my shoulder so badly. At this time I didn't know he partially tore my rotator cuff. I should not have been lifting weights or bodybuilding as the doctor told me that the injury I had was a career destroyer for a bodybuilder. I was determined not to give up though and was in denial about how bad it really hurt.

"I reported the injury but didn't tell the doctors what really happened so they didn't do an x-ray. I was afraid of getting Ray into trouble. I was afraid of losing Ray. Looking back I realize I was a classic case of Battered Wife Syndrome. I was in denial that Ray was abusive to me. My self esteem was so low. I didn't think I could attract another man like Ray. I felt I was lucky to have him."


Your life with Ray seems to have been very turbulent. Did you ever consider leaving him before events escalated the way they did?

"My life with Ray was very turbulent. I left him about three times and he followed me to my new address. I was preparing to move back east where I was brought up and to the home I grew up in, but I didn't make it. Looking back, I should have left him after the 3rd day of our marriage. He beat me up because the Warrant Officer who was in charge of me told Ray he should not have married me because I was ‘used goods'. Ray got mad because I had dated two other guys before I met him. I was beaten up unmercifully. This beating was unprovoked on my side."


The violence in your relationship has been linked by some to anabolic steroid use, care to comment...

"Yes, anabolic steroid use was the root of Ray's violence towards me. When Ray and I first got married in 1987, I had no idea that he was on steroids. So I did not know that he was suffering from ‘roid rage' when he'd fly off the handle and beat the holy hell out of me. He threw me across the room when he saw me talking to another guy when I was at work. He picked me up like a rag doll the minute we got home and just threw me across the room. He broke my coccyx bone in my back tail bone. This injury still bothers me. My back is always going out on me. It hurts to sit down. When I get up from being seated it takes about 10 steps before I can loosen up and straighten up. It is hard to lift things.

"Over in Okinawa, Japan where we lived off base, Ray beat me over 52 times in that year over there because he was having roid rages. One of those times was because I would not write a list of all the men I had dated...Ray choked me three times, on the third time I had spasms. When I came around I ran out of our apartment in my bra and bike pants. I hid in the bushes, more afraid of Ray than the poisonous snakes that lived there. Ray called to me and apologized to me. He confessed he was on steroids and had been having a ‘roid rage'. He said he had no idea what he did to me. So that was my introduction to steroids. I was so new to the sport at that time that I did not know about steroids.

"Ray's toxicology reports state that he had 5 different steroids in his system. I was not on steroids at the time of the incident. I had used Deca Durabolin for the Nationals in September of 1994, so I tested positive for Deca because it stays in the system up to 18 months. There have been many female athletes in bodybuilding that were disqualified at the North America for testing positive for Deca. I did not use a lot of steroids. I had bills to pay and children to take care of. My priorities were straight. The children came first. I did not want the bad side effects females can get. I never used testosterones because they cause facial hair, male pattern baldness and a voice as deep as Barry White. I have no side effects from over using steroids. I would be a misfit in prison if I had to shave my face or had male pattern balding and a very deep voice."

It has been reported that Ray had several affairs during the course of your marriage. Many women would have left him for that reason alone. Why did you choose to stay?

SallyMcNiel0001"Yes Ray had many affairs. I tried to stick through it, thick or thin, for better or worse. He always came back to me. Once these women realized Ray couldn't leave me they left him. Some woman (name deleted) had an abortion according to Ray because he couldn't leave me. I should have left him because one thing I was afraid of was catching HIV, AIDS, Hep C or any kind of STD.

I could give you a long list of women Ray had affairs with - one of them even had the nerve to testify against me during my trial. Yes I should have left him but my self esteem was so beaten down by him that I thought he was the best I could get."

You have often been portrayed as the ‘bully' and provoker in your marriage. How do you feel about this?

"I was not the bully or provoker in my marriage. If a guy is beating you up because he mistrusts you, wouldn't you be angry when you discover he is fooling around on you?

"I wasn't jealous, I was deathly afraid of catching a disease such as HIV, Hep C or some awful STD as I said before. I didn't deserve that. I did nothing to deserve the beatings Ray handed out. I believe Ray's homosexual boyfriends (names deleted) made me out to be the bully. I would never provoke a 260lbs professional bodybuilder. One time when I hit Ray back after he brutally beat me it made the beating worse. He broke my rib and punctured my lung. My military records have this injury reported. On that final night I felt as though I would not survive that choking or throughout the night. I panicked. Ray weighed 260lbs a hundred pounds more than me.

"Ray's boyfriends lied about me during the trial. I have proof. One of them said he spotted me benching 255lbs...that is not true. In power lifting the most I ever benched was 225lbs. The DA pulled so many pages out of my military health records it is unreal...he even pulled the births of my children.

"Men who cheat are insecure so they accuse us women of cheating because they feel if they are cheating so are you. One of Ray's boyfriends (name deleted) lived with us for almost two years. I asked Ray to please tell him to move out. He was mean to my children. He would lock them out of the house when I was not home. He and Ray must have been in the apartment having sex and didn't want to get walked in on by my children or caught in the gay act.

"Due to the fact that I was the reason Ray's boyfriend had to move out of the apartment (I refused to take care of two grown men!) he lied when he testified against me. He actually saw Ray beat me on many occasions. One time I begged him for help and he didn't lift a finger. It seemed to me that he encouraged Ray's abusive behavior towards me. I did not deserve to be abused and mistreated. Ray's boyfriends all lied on the witness stand...and the DA allowed it."


Coming up next....Sally talks about that fateful night in detail and discusses her life in prison and her plans for the future.

N.B. Sally welcomes correspondence from RX readers. You can write to her at the following address:

Sally M. McNeil

W# 62688

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