Judith Eva Barsi was born in Los Angeles to Hungarian parents, both of whom immigrated from the Hungarian People’s Republic. She began acting at a young age, and a bright future awaited her, but her life was cut short by her own father.
József Barsi fled to the United States after the 1956 uprising in Hungary, and he later met Mária Barsi (Virovacz) in Los Angeles, who had also immigrated there. In 1978, they welcomed a daughter, Judith Eva Barsi. To the public, they seemed like the perfect, happy, successful family; however, that was far from the truth.
Judith began acting at the young age of four, and she starred in over 70 commercials, as well as more than two dozen television and film productions before her untimely death. In a chilling coincidence, Judith’s first role was in a television mini-series, in which a man murdered his wife and children.
Judith was estimated to earn $100,000 a year by the time she was 9, and with the help of her salary, her family purchased the home where the tragedy later occurred.
Both of Judith’s parents had troubled childhoods: Mária was abused by her father, while József had no self-esteem and was bullied by his peers. Judith’s father later became an alcoholic, and as her success increased, his condition seemed to get worse, often becoming violent and angry, threatening to kill his family and himself. He ended up arrested three times for DUIs.
In 1986, Mária reported her husband’s threats to the police, but as they found no physical evidence of abuse, she decided against pressing charges. However, József’s abuse was more than verbal threats. Judith once reportedly told a friend that her father had thrown pots and pans at her, which made her nose bleed, and she also said that she was afraid to go home. The severe verbal and physical abuse led Judith to develop trichotillomania, which is a disorder that makes people pull out their own hair, or in Judith’s case, her eyelashes and her cat’s whiskers.
A few months before her death, Judith had a breakdown in front of her agent, and she was taken to a child psychologist, who reported her findings of abuse to the CPS. Judith’s mother promised their caseworker that she would divorce József and move to an apartment with Judith, and the case was dropped. However, she could not go through with her plans, as she did not want to lose the family home with all its belongings.
Following the incident with the police and CPS, József stopped drinking, but his abuse continued: he threatened his family and said he would burn the house down, or that he would cut their throats. Before going to the shooting of Jaws, József reportedly held a knife to Judith’s neck and threatened to kill her if she and her mother did not return home immediately after the movie wrapped.
In the evening of July 25, 1988, József shot Judith in the head while she was asleep, then proceeded to kill his wife as well. He wandered their family home for two days following the murders, and on July 27, poured inflammable liquid on the bodies and set them on fire, then shot himself in the head. Their neighbour reported hearing a gunshot at 8:30 am to the police, who then found the three bodies.
Source: Daily News Hungary