According to Biography, José Menendez was born to a wealthy family in Cuba. When the Castro regime took over his family lost much of their fortune and helped José flee to the U.S. while still a teenager. Once in the U.S., he lived in an attic with relatives in Pennsylvania, as the Los Angeles Times reports. Born in Illinois, Kitty’s childhood was also turbulent, with alleged abuse in her home and a philandering father, who was a small business owner, who abandoned his family to live with a mistress.

Kitty, a beauty queen, met José while they were both enrolled at Southern Illinois University. After the couple married in 1963, they first moved east to New York, and then to the Los Angeles area, where José was employed as a high-powered entertainment industry executive. José was known as an ambitious and hardworking businessman, and Kitty became a stay-at-home mother when Lyle and Erik Menendez were born in 1968 and 1970, respectively. From the outside, José and Kitty Menendez accomplished the American dream, but there was a dark side to the family.

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