The Tragic Life & Murder Of Child Star Judith Barsi | Part Two | True Crime

(Judith in Cagney & Lacey) 

Continued from part one...

(As with part one, please be aware that I will be talking about domestic abuse and child abuse in this post)

So, Child Protection Services were involved and Maria was brought into their office to answer a few questions. Maria convinced the case worker (who was already dealing with numerous cases at the time) to leave the family in peace and that she had a plan to leave Jozsef. Maria had an a secret apartment that she had rented out for her and Judith to go to during the day for some peace away from him. She would tell Jozsef that she was taking Judith to a photoshoot or a rehearsal and he seemed to buy it. He did follow her one day in his car and caught her outside of the building with boxes, she managed to convince him that she was helping a friend move in and he seemed to believe that.

Maria told the case worker that she and Judith were going to live in this apartment and get away from Jozsef. For some crazy reason the case worker felt that this was suitable and Child Protection Services were no longer involved. Again, another situation where a victim of domestic abuse is too scared to have anyone involved incase things turn worse. This is the point where Child Protection Services and the police should have done their jobs properly and stepped in, placed both Judith and Maria in a safe house and kept their eye on Jozsef.

Judith had told the kids at school about Jozsef, she spoke about how he threw pots and pans at her making her nose bleed. He once grabbed her hair and threw her to the floor. When these horrible incidences occurred, Jozsef would go out and buy Judith gifts, probably to keep her silence. It must have been so frightening and confusing for this poor little angel, not knowing where to turn. She was terrified of her father and I don't even feel comfortable with calling him her father. He was not her father, he was a monster who didn't deserve to have her as his daughter.

The neighbours already knew that Jozsef wasn't a very nice guy and Judith would often spend time at her friends house nearby. The parents would let Judith visit for as long as she liked because they knew she wasn't happy at home. When she told them about Jozsef's constant threats to kill her and her mother, they took it with a pinch of salt and thought that Judith was being overdramatic. I think this is a disgrace too, if a child who is clearly frightened, coming to your house all the time and not wanting to leave, telling you their father is violent and making all kinds of threats, you do something to help, you don't brush the child's pleas for help aside.

It seems to me (this is my opinion) that a lot of people involved with this case were either too lazy and couldn't be bothered getting involved with the situation cause it would disrupt their lives or they too were scared of what Jozsef was capable of.

This horrible situation that this poor child was forced to endure by a sick monster of a father and a money motivated (there, I said it) mother all came to a head on the 25th of July 1988. Judith was out playing on her bike that afternoon, the neighbours had seen her. Judith looking adorable as always and never showing a glimpse of what she was really feeling deep down. Being out on her bike in the fresh air in the sunshine must have felt like a little taste of freedom for her, she could forget about all of the bad stuff for a little while and just be a child.

(Judith and Maria. Picture credit: Judith Barsi Forever Remembered)

That evening, Maria put Judith to bed and shortly after that she went to bed herself leaving Jozsef watching TV like he always did. The house was a complete mess, there was stuff everywhere. Maria had gotten into the habit of not cleaning anything and stopped wearing makeup. This was an attempt to make Jozsef get fed up and leave her but it didn't work, maybe he didn't want to lose the house, the items and the money either?

Some time later when Maria and Judith were fast asleep. Jozsef Barsi walked into his 10 year old daughter's bedroom, placed a gun at her head and pulled the trigger. Hearing the gun shot, Maria jumped out of bed, in that moment she knew, she knew what he had done, he'd been saying it for years and now he finally did it. It's hard to imagine what she must have felt running out of that bedroom. When I think about it my heart aches and I feel this desperate and hopeless feeling. Trying to imagine it as if I was a mother myself. The pain must have been unbearable.

Everything happened so fast and I'm not going to say whether I thought if Maria thought about her own actions when it came to Jozsef or the importance she put on the house and the money. Nobody could deny that she loved her daughter and Judith loved her. Maria had her own problems in the past maybe there was a part of her that felt that Judith worked hard for that house so she didn't want Jozsef to have it. Whatever the situation, I have sympathy for what she went through but she should still have taken her child out of that situation and away from that man as soon as he raised his voice at her the very first time.

Maria ran into the hallway which I feel was a brave thing for her to do, she was trying to get to Judith. She could have ran, hid somewhere but she didn't, she ran to Judith and on the way to Judith's room, Jozsef caught her and fired the gun. There was no moment of ''What have I done'' after he killed Judith, he was determined that both of them were going to die at his hands.

He left the bodies where they were for two days and carried on as normal. When Ruth, Judith's agent called the house wondering why she hadn't turned up for a rehearsal, Jozsef calmly answered the phone telling her that Judith and Maria were picked up by a car earlier that afternoon and that he was no longer living in the house, he said that he was just saying goodbye to Judith.

Sometime after this, Jozsef took some cans of gasoline and poured it all over Maria and Judith's bodies before going into the garage and taking his own life by a shot to the head. An elderly neighbour head the noise when she was out in her garden she then saw smoke and called the fire station. The neighbour tried to use her hose to extinguish some of the flames.

The fire service arrived and got control of the situation but when they stepped inside, it soon became apparent what had happened. Maria and Judith's bodies were said to have been badly burnt almost to the point of unrecognition. The police came and slowley moved the bodies from the scene. Seasoned police officers openly wept as Judith's tiny body was carried out wrapped in a blanket.

(The Barsi Residence: Herald Examiner) 

(Heartbreaking sight. Police officers struggle to contain their emotions as Judith's body was removed from the house wrapped in a blanket. Picture credit: suaviterinmodo

Judith was buried beside her mother in unmarked graves in Forest Lawn Memorial park in the Hollywood Hills. A fitting final resting place for a little star who would have gone on to shine even brighter if she had been given the chance.

For over a decade there was no memorial stones for Judith and Maria but in 2004 a campaign to raise money for some proper headstones was started up and now they have been placed at the grave site.

Judith's gravestone says ''Our Concrete Angel, Yep! Yep! Yep!'' (Yep! Yep! Yep! was the catchphrase of her popular character Ducky).

(Judith grave. Picture credit: findagrave.com

The movie All Dogs Go To Heaven was released in the November of 1988 and the song at the end of the movie (during the roll of the credits) was wrtten and dedicated to Judith.

It's so heartbreaking to think what would have become of Judith, she was so talented at such a young age and had so much more to give. She deserved so much better. I can only hope that in the short time that she was here (away from her father) that there were moments of fun, joy and carefree happiness for her.


RIP Judith x


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The Tragic Life & Murder Of Child Star Judith Barsi | Part One | True Crime

(Judith Barsi: Picture credit: donbluth) 

This case has always had an impact on me from the moment I heard about it. Like a lot of kids growing up in the 90s, the movie The Land Before Time was a favourite of mine, especially the character Ducky. As I got older I was to learn of the tragic story of the little girl who was the voice of Ducky and in this post I'm going to share the heartbreaking story of a beautiful little child star who's life was wiped out at only 10 years old at the hands of her own father.

Some of the details that I share in these posts will be quite upsetting, I will also be talking about child abuse and domestic abuse so please be warned. I understand if you would prefer to skip these posts.

Let's begin...

Judith Ava Barsi was born in Los Angeles, Calfornia on the 6th of June 1978 to Hungarian Immigrant parents, Jozsef and Maria. Both of her parents had been married before and her father had two children from his previous marriage that lived with their mother Carla in another state. Both of her parents came to California at different times but they met at a restaurant where Maria was working.

What nobody knew at the time was that Jozsef had left a lot of destruction behind him from his previous marriage to Carla. He had met Carla in France, she was also a Hungarian immigrant and the pair hit it off and soon had two children. They all moved to New York for a fresh start but things soon turned sour when Jozsef (who was always quite an aggressive man) began to abuse his wife.

When Carla took the children and tried to get away from him, he tracked them down and pleaded to her that he had changed, she saw through it. He made death threats and assaulted her one last time before going to California. Maria, who had suffered abuse in the past reportedly by her father, knew nothing of the monster that Jozsef really was. Jozsef was polite, charming and confident and Maria fell in love with him and soon fell pregnant with Judith.

Maria had always wanted to be an actress, it was her lifelong dream but somewhere along the way she gave up and when Judith was born, she had plans on making Judith a child star. She began coaching Judith, teaching her how to sing and put on little performances. When she told friends that she was hoping to make Judith a star, they thought that it was a silly dream with the number of child stars in Hollywood at the time it was really hard to get a break.

But, when Judith was five and out at a skating rink with her parents, a TV crew who were filming a commercial spotted her and discussed with Maria and Jozsef the possibility of getting Judith an agent and for her to appear in another commercial. Ofcourse they were excited about this and so was Judith.

From that moment onwards, Judith was like the little queen of commercials, her cute little face and bubbly personality was popping up everywhere. This also opened the door to roles on well known TV shows. her first TV role was in Fatal Vision. Judith's most known roles were in the movies: Jaws: The Revenge, The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go To Heaven.

(Judith starred alongside some of the biggest names in in TV and Movies. Picture credit: pigtailsinpaint.org

Judith was a beautiful little girl, very small for her age and would often play younger roles because of her height. At one point there was some concern for her slow growth and she was given some hormone injections for a period of time to help her grow. She was a brilliant little actress and could take any verbal direction, she was like a little pro. She could act happy or act sad and she was just a natural, everyone who ever worked with her was impressed with her, including Don Bluth the director of both The Land Before Time & All Dogs Go To Heaven. He found her so easy to work with that he had plans to include her in his future movies.

(Left: Judith Barsi. Right: Jozsef and Maria, Judith's parents. Picture credit: unbelievable-facts.com

Judith was a hardworking little girl and by the time she was in fourth grade she was making as much as $100,000 a year, this enabled the family to move out of their cramped apartment and into a luxurious three bedroomed house in West Hills, Los Angeles.

With Judith's career going from strength to strength and their financial situation improving you would think that all would be well with the Barsi household but things were turning sour when Jozsef couldn't control his temper. For a man with a violent background pretending to be laid back, it was only a matter of time before the real him came to the surface. He drank heavily and fell into trouble with the police numerous times for drink driving. Instead of being grateful and proud of his daugther, he began to resent her and the fact that she was the main breadwinner in the house. He was also envious of the close relationship that Maria and Judith had.

He had nobody to blame but himself, it was no wonder that Judith would want to be around her mother more when all he did was drink and be verbally abusive. Being the amazing little actress that she was, Judith carried on going to school everyday and working hard like nothing was happening. The truth was that Jozsef was getting worse as the days went on. People who knew him back in New York later said that Jozsef was the type of guy who could start a fight in an empty room, Jozsef would try to fight people for no reason. He was always quick to fly off the handle with everything and he could be like that sober as well as drunk.

He grew more and more jealous of Judith and his mood swings were getting worse. He would take out his frustrations out on Maria at first and would often boast to his friends that he was going to kill her one day. His friends never took it seriously. He then turned his attentions to both Maria and Judith, threatening them both that he would kill them if they ever left him and he would burn the house down.

Being the paranoid control freak that Jozsef was he had to know where Judith and Maria were at all times and would open any letters or packages that came to the house. A letter arrived for Maria informing her that a relative had passed away in Hungary but Jozsef kept this letter from her. He didn't want Maria and Judith to leave him.

Even the neighbours knew that all was not well in the Barsi home. One reported that she saw Judith happily playing in the garden one day with a kite, the next minute Jozsef walked up to her and grabbed the kite and broke it in two leaving Judith in tears.

Maria often told friends that she was sick of Jozsef and was going to leave him but she said that so many times and never followed through with her plans that people got tired of hearing it.

Maria loved the lifestyle that Judith's money brought, she didn't want to lose the house or the fancy items in the house to Jozsef so she continued to put up with things she shouldn't have. In one incident, Maria called the police and told them Jozsef had punched and throttled her but when the police arrived she wanted the matter dropped and the police decided that since there was no marks on her face to just leave it. This was a huge mistake on the part of the police officers as it is very common for frightened victims of domestic violence to want to opt out of taking things further in fear of repercussions.

After this incident Jozsef reportedly stopped drinking but the abuse continued to get worse. When Judith was in her bedroom packing some of her favourite things for filming a movie in the Bahamas, Jozsef walked up to the child and placed a knife at her neck and said ''If you dont come back from filming, I will cut your throat.''

(Judith Barsi in one of her acting scenes in the popular 1980s TV show, Cagney and Lacey) 

Maria and Judith went to the Bahamas and when they were taking breaks inbetween filming, Maria was talking to some of the women who were part of the crew. She told them about Jozsef, the problems in the marriage and that she was scared of him. The women tried to give her advice but every time that they did, Maria would change her mind and say that she was going back.

Maria's brother lived in New York and after filming she took Judith there for a few days. Jozsef went crazy when he found out and phoned her. He insisted on talking to Judith on the phone and told her to remember what he had said to her. Up until this point, Judith kept the frightening incided with her father a secret but after the phonecall she told Maria.

Instead of getting the hell out of the situation and protecting her daughter, Maria went back for the sake of the house and the material possessions. Even the neighbours got to a point where they had almost given up trying to give Maria advice, she never took it and always went back to Jozsef.

The trauma was getting too much for Judith and she could no longer keep it all inside and act like the happy little girl that she was used to playing. She began pulling her eyelashes out and pulled her cat's whisker's out, she also gained weight and when she attended an audition for the movie All Dogs Go To Heaven, she suddenly out of nowhere had a panic attack and started crying hysterically. It took her agent, Ruth a while to calm her down. Judith told her some of the things that had been going on and Ruth took her straight to a child psychologist who determined that Judith had been suffering a severe case of psychological and physical abuse and contacted Child Protection Services.


Continued in part two...


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The Strange But True Story of Carl Tanzler & His Corpse Bride

(Carl Tanzler. Photo credit: birdinflight.com)

This is one of those stories that you would be forgiven for thinking was just a made up tale online but it's shockingly true. I've written about various true crime cases on this blog as well as mysteries and in my opinion, this story falls into the true crime category with somewhat of a horror twist.

I'm talking about the shocking story of a man who was so obsessed with a woman that when she died due to illness, he stole her corpse and lived with her dead body in his bed for nearly a decade. Some of the details I'm about to share in this post will be a bit disturbing so please be prepared for that.


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So, let's begin.

A strange fellow from Germany who went by the name of Carl Tanzler (as well as Count Carl Von Cosel even though he wasn't a Count) was born in Dresden, Germany on the 8th of February 1877. Carl had a difficult time dealing with reality and as he got older he would claim that he was a Doctor as well as many other professions.

He immigrated to the Key West in Florida and worked as a Radiology Technologist at the Marine Hospital Service. He was estranged from his wife and two children and carried on living in his dream world until one day, a beautiful young Cuban-American woman by the name of Elena Milagro De Hoyos came to the hospital. Fifty Three year old Carl was transfixed with the 21 year old brunette with striking features, he couldn't help but remember the dream he had when he was a child. Carl claimed that one of his ancestors came to him in a dream when he was a little boy and revealed to him the future face of his one true love.

For the rest of his life, through his marriage, even up to that moment, he never forgot that face or that dream and here was Elena before him, she looked exactly like the face in the dream and he was determined to be with her, he saw it as destiny.

Unfortunately the young Elena was not interested in Carl in that way and the sad truth emerged that she was suffering with the disease Tuberculosis and this was at a time when there was no vaccine for it. Carl was devastated and became obsessed with finding a cure. He led the family to believe that he was a Doctor and would come to their house bringing all kinds of medicines and formulas that he prayed would work but none of them did. He constantly told Elena how much he loved her and showered her with gifts but she still didn't feel any sort of way about him. I'm sure she and her family were grateful for his help but other than that there was no closeness there.

(Elena Milagro De Hoyos: Picture credit: the13thfloor.tv)

Despite Carl's tireless efforts, Elena sadly passed away on the 31st of July 1909. Carl was distraught and insisted to Elena's family that he pay for her funeral as well as burial.

Carl organised for Elena's body to be put into an above ground mausoleum which was quite elaborate. Carl was the only one who had a key to the mausoleum and Elena's family thought nothing of it at the time. They knew that he had a fondness for her when she was alive but they thought it was harmless.

(The mausoleum of Elena Milagro De Hoyos. Picture credit: atlasobscura.com)

What nobody knew was that Carl was sneaking into the cemetery at night and spending time with Elena's body, he'd talk to her and sometimes he'd be there all night. He had a phone installed in the mausoleum so that Elena could call him anytime she wanted and he would regularly inject her body with Formaldehyde. This craziness went on for two years until things took and even more sinister turn with Carl feeling that Elena was calling for him from the grave.

(Carl Tanzler and Elena Milagro De Hoyos. Picture credit: mind-blowingfacts.com

So one night he decided to remove Elena's corpse from the mausoleum, load it onto a child's wheelbarrow and took it home. It was also around this time that he was fired from his job at the hospital, maybe they found out about him stealing medicines etc to take to Elena's house?

Once he got Elena's body home, he realised that her body was in bad shape despite his efforts to delay decomposition so he set to work on trying to bring Elena back to life and repair her body.

He removed her eyes from their sockets and replaced them with glass ones. He covered her body in perfume and oils to help get rid of the smell. Put her skeleton and bones back together using piano and coat hanger wire. Her body was covered in plaster and fabric and her insides were stuffed with rags. He made a wig out of her own hair and glued it to her head as well as inserting a tube in between her legs so that he could have sexual intercourse with her. He put her clothes back on the body when he was finished doing this constant daily routine of covering the body with perfume and he would often be seen out in the town buying women's clothing which raised a few eyebrows.

(The disturbing image of Elena's corpse after years of decomposition and Carl's constant attempts at preserving her remains. Picture credit: imgur.com

Elena's body, which now resembled more of a doll was kept in Carl's bed, when he wasn't sleeping beside it, he would talk to her, play music on his organ for her and was said to have enjoyed picking her corpse up and dancing around with it (a neighbour later reported seeing him doing this in one of the windows).

Seven years this went on and rumours were all over town that creepy Carl had a dead body in his house. Elena's family became very concerned and started putting two and two together. Elena's sister had her suspicions for a while and marched over to Carl's house and pushed herself in through the door despite his attempts to keep her outside and sure enough, there Elena was on his bed. Her sister thought that he had just made a doll of Elena but nonetheless, she contacted the authorities and Carl was arrested.


He was charged with grave robbing and desecration of a corpse but because of the amount of time that had passed he somehow got away with it and the charges were dropped. As soon as they took the handcuffs off and told him that he could leave, he asked them for Elena's body back, they of course refused.

Elena's body was sent to a funeral home where it caused a stir. The poor woman's badly desecrated corpse was put on display for all to see and over 6000 people flocked to see the famous ''Corpse Bride''. It's a wonder what her poor family must have thought. Imagine the trauma of losing your loved one and then finding out that the nice (but creepy) old man who paid for the funeral and tried to help, was actually living with your dead relative's corpse for seven years and got away with it.

The people of Key West couldn't believe the story and some of them even saw Carl as some sort of hopeless romantic, that this was some kind of love story. The reality was that this was a very sick man who stole a young woman's body for his own gratification, there was no love story, it was all in his head. Elena was never interested in him but she didn't have a choice.

Elena was finally given the proper burial that she deserved in an unmarked grave somehwere in Key West. To this day nobody knows where and that's a good thing.

Carl lived out the rest of his days still fixated on Elena and created a mask of her face which he put onto a life size dummy. He kept the dummy in his bed until he passed away on the 3rd of July 1952. Some sources say that he was found in the arms of the dummy, others say that he was found near his organ with the mask on, whatever the situation, this story was bizarre in itself so it wouldn't surprise me if the ending was also strange.


RIP Elena.


Thank you for checking out my latest post, see you in the next one x


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Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

Victim of The Porn Industry or Con Artist? The Shelley Lubben Story (2 Part Series)