Judith Eva Barsi (June 6, 1978 – July 25, 1988)
Barsi was the daughter of Hungarian immigrants József Barsi and Maria Barsi (née Benkő), who had both fled the 1956 Soviet occupation of Hungary and then immigrated to Los Angeles, California shortly before the birth of their daughter. Maria Barsi had aspired to be an actress herself, but later hoped that her daughter would be one, instead. Judith was discovered at a skating rink when she was five years old, but could still pass for three. She went on to appear in over 70 commercials and soon appeared in films. Later in her life, Barsi had growth hormone injections to encourage her growth.
As Barsi became more famous, her father József, an alcoholic and unemployed plumber, became increasingly abusive, jealous, and paranoid. He would mentally abuse her and once held a knife to her throat while threatening to kill her, because he was convinced that his wife and daughter would leave for a photo shoot or movie shoot and never come back. Barsi was taken to a child psychologist after breaking down in front of her agent. The psychologist identified severe physical and emotional abuse, and reported her findings to the authorities.
József would often stay home drunk and refused to let Maria work. The family was on welfare for a brief period until Barsi’s career started taking off around 1984. By the time she entered fourth grade, she was earning an estimated $100,000 a year which helped her buy the family a three-bedroom house in the West Hills Section of Los Angeles
József suffered from paranoia and had their house surrounded by a high-fence which could only be opened from inside the house. József remained a recluse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter many times. Child Protective Services was called numerous times, but as Maria was reluctant to press any charges, the case was never followed up. Maria rented an apartment for her daughter and herself as a daytime safe haven away from József.
On July 25, 1988, József shot Judith in the head while she was asleep, in her room. Maria, hearing the gunshot, rushed down the hall to check on Judith, where József met her and shot her as well.After pouring gasoline on the bodies and setting the house on fire, József then went into the garage and shot himself in the head with a .32 caliber pistol.