Killer Sally’s True Story Explored: How Sally Mcneil Got Her Nickname?

Another intriguing true crime documentary is hitting Netflix very soon, revolving around one of the most brutal, crazy stories from the world of bodybuilding. Sally McNeil, aka Killer Sally, shot her husband twice, killing him on the spot and claiming she did it in self-defense afterward. So, what’s the true story behind this documentary? How did Killer Sally get the nickname?

Killer Sally actually got the nickname long before she killed her husband, Ray McNeil, who was also a bodybuilder. After Sally was discharged from the US Marine Corps, she started engaging in ‘muscle worship’ – wrestling men for money. For those endeavors, she used the nickname, Killer Sally.

Of course, that nickname would get a whole new dimension and become increasingly sinister after the tragic events that led to Ray McNeil’s demise. Sally claims it was self-defense after years of heavy abuse by the bodybuilder. However, the jury at Sally’s trial thought otherwise. So, what’s the real truth? Let’s explore the true story behind Netflix’s Killer Sally docuseries.

Who was Sally McNeil?

Sally McNeil was one of the most famous female bodybuilders in the United States, active in the 1980s and early 1990s. She lived a tough life, suffering from abuse ever since her childhood days. Sally found comfort in fitness, which developed into bodybuilding over the years.

After joining the US Marine Corps, Sally won the US armed services physique championship twice. That’s where she met her husband-to-be, a fellow Marine, Ray McNeil. Ray was also into bodybuilding, and although a lot of men see muscular women as intimidating, Ray called Sally’s physique beautiful.

As we hear in the trailer, Sally says it was ‘lust at first sight” between them, and the bodybuilding couple quickly married in 1987. All was great for a while, and they had kids together, but things took a wrong turn after Ray was unfaithful several times. And, as it turns out, it was only the beginning.

After Sally was discharged from the US Marine corps, she focused all her energy on training. After a while, Sally realized that she could use her physique to earn a whole lot of money. Her endeavors included professional wrestling and this thing called ‘muscle worship.’ 

In those ‘muscle worship’ endeavors, men pay a lot of money to wrestle muscular women and be taken to the ground. It proved to be a very steady, big influx of cash for the McNeils. So much so that Ray decided not to re-enlist in the army and focus all his time on bodybuilding. As Sally says in the trailer: “If I wrestled 10 of them, that’s $3K.”

Sadly, that’s actually when things start falling apart for Sally and Ray…

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How did Sally McNeil get her nickname Killer Sally?

The nickname Killer Sally was actually a moniker used by Sally McNeil in her pro-wrestling and muscle worship endeavors. However, the nickname got a whole new meaning and depth after Sally shot her husband, Ray McNeil, twice, killing him on the spot. So, how did it come to that?

Well, that depends on who you ask. Ray isn’t here anymore to tell his side of the story, but the jury obviously thought that Sally was the abuser, as she was convicted of second-degree murder, while the prosecution called her a thug, a bully, and a monster. They say the killing happened out of jealousy, as Sally couldn’t bear Ray’s infidelity.

However, in the documentary, Sally, as well as several other witnesses (including Sally and Ray’s son), tell a different story.

After the shooting, which happened on Valentine’s Day, 1995, Sally McNeil called 911 and said: “I just shot my husband because he beat me up.” That’s right – Sally was heavily abused for years by Ray. 

On that dreadful day, another argument saw Ray choking Sally, to which she responded by getting a hold of a gun and shooting him twice, once in the abdomen and once in the head. Sally claimed it was a split-second decision to save her life, even though the prosecution and the jury claimed otherwise. So, how did it come to this?

Well, remember the big amounts of cash that Sally was making? As it turns out, Ray was using it to buy anabolic steroids – a whole lot of them – to boost his bodybuilding success and career. According to Sally, she knew nothing of it. She didn’t even know how steroids work nor what the side effects are.

She’d soon learn that the hard way, though, as Ray started suffering from roid rage. She says he had beaten her up over fifty times in a single year. And not just a slap on the cheek – a real, hard beating. I mean, you can imagine what it looks like when two bodybuilders start fighting.

And the allegations aren’t just verbal. Most of the time, Sally didn’t even call the doctor, but there were instances where the abuse was documented. For instance, there was this one time when Ray threw Sally across the room, and she fell to the ground, breaking her tailbone.

While they were living in Okinawa, Japan, Sally claims that Ray would lose it to a point where she had to run out of the house and hide in the woods, where he’d follow her and apologize, claiming he completely blacked out and had no idea what he was doing. This, quite frankly, is possible, as ‘roid rage’ is a well-known potential side effect of steroid abuse.

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Even their son claims that Ray’s abuse was horrible, not just for Sally but for the kids as well. As he said in the trailer: “I remember how tortuous it used to be to have to sit there and watch him abuse my sister and to know that I was next.”

‘Killer Sally’ never denied shooting and killing her husband, Ray McNeil. However, her claims of domestic abuse and self-defense certainly deserved more consideration, to say the least, instead of being labeled as the ‘brawny bride’ or the ‘pumped-up princess,’ as the media called her.

I do believe, however, that the documentary will be a bit biased, as it revolves around an exclusive interview with Sally herself, giving her side of the story, but she served her time and has nothing to gain but to clear her name and speak her truth.

When is the Netflix documentary “Killer Sally” dropping?

‘Killer Sally’ is dropping on Netflix on November 2, 2022. It will be a three-part docuseries about the life and marriage of the McNeils, the murder of Ray McNeil, the trial of Sally McNeil, and the eventual aftermath of it all.

The documentary marks the first time that Sally McNeil is openly speaking out first-hand on everything that has happened between her and Ray. Seeing that the creator of the series is Nanette Burstein – a well-known author of awesome series such as On the Ropes, Going the Distance, or Hillary, I bet Killer Sally will be a great watch.

  • Luka loves psychological thrillers, horrors, and mysteries. However, high fantasy and fiction are his primary interest, especially Tolkien's Middle-earth universe, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Marvel universe. Amateur filmmaker, screenwriter, cinematography, and trivia enthusiast.