|Image courtesy Suaviterinmodo Flickr page.|
|Los Angeles Herald Examiner 1988 article. Image courtesy Suaviterinmodo Flickr page.|
|Hello Magazine 1988 article showing Judith's corpse being carried out while two police officers on the left weep in sorrow. Image courtesy Suaviterinmodo Flickr page.|
Let me start off by saying that this is a tragic story to tell which was just as difficult for me to write as when my father passed away in May 2013 but yet I never knew Judith Barsi. I apologize for starting off your day on a sad note but history cannot be ignored and the more we learn, the better off we theoretically should be.
Barsi was born to Hungarian parents, József "Arizona Joe" and Maria (Virovacz) Barsi. The real-life-villains.wikia.com site describes Judith's father best:
Joe was a Hungarian-American plumbing contractor and banjo/fiddle musician who was best known as the father of child actress Judith Barsi. Burdened by low self-esteem, stemming from mockery over his Hungarian accent and the social rejection he suffered in Hungary, József developed a drinking problem and a paranoid personality which was to torment him throughout his life, culminating in him murdering his wife and daughter before taking his own life.
Joe was born on November 26, 1932 in a "[rough] industrial" area of Hungary, during the reign of Admiral Horthy. An illegitimate child, József never knew his father, and suffered from social rejection and bullying by other children and from his own school teachers. His first daughter, Ági, later speculated that József resented his mother for allowing his father to abandon him, and consequently viewed all women as "whores".
|Joe Barsi. Image courtesy Real Life Villians.com.|
|Joe, Klara, Agi, and Barna. Image courtesy Real Life Villians.com.|
|Joe and Maria. Image courtesy Real Life Villians.com.|
|Joe and Judith. Image courtesy Real Life Villians.com.|
She was mistaken for a three-year-old child. Judith was cute, precocious, intelligent and a lot of fun to work with. They signed her on immediately.
The pictures below are from a recent home listing where the current owners unsuccessfully tried to sell the home for $699,000 on November 13, 2007 through May 15, 2010. These pictures should not be interpreted as when the Barsi's were living in the home as it has most likely been upgraded since 1988.
|Images courtesy Number1Expert|
As Judith's career success increased, József became increasingly abusive, jealous and paranoid, and would routinely threaten to kill himself, his wife, and daughter. His alcoholism worsened, and resulted in three separate arrests for drunk driving. In December 1986, Maria reported his threats and physical violence toward her to the police. After police found no physical signs of abuse, Maria eventually decided not to press charges against József.
After the incident, József reportedly stopped drinking, but continued to threaten his wife and daughter, which included threats of cutting their throats as well as burning down the house. He reportedly hid a telegram informing Maria that a relative in Hungary had died, in an attempt to prevent her and Judith from leaving America. Physical violence also continued, with Judith telling a friend about her father throwing pots and pans at her resulting in a nosebleed. Due to her father's abuse, Judith began putting on weight and exhibited disturbing behavior, which included plucking out all her eyelashes and pulling out her cat's whiskers. After breaking down in front of her agent during a singing audition for All Dogs Go to Heaven, Judith was taken by Maria to a child psychologist, who identified severe physical and emotional abuse and reported her findings to Child Protective Services (CPS).
The investigation was dropped after Maria assured the case worker that she intended to begin divorce proceedings against József and that she and Judith were going to move into a Panorama City apartment she had recently rented as a daytime haven away from József. Friends urged Maria to follow through with the plan, but she resisted, reportedly because she did not want to lose the family home and belongings.
|Regency Premier Apartment Building 8525 Tobias Avenue Panorma City. Image courtesy Hotpad.com|
Judith was last seen riding her bike on the morning of Monday, July 25, 1988. That evening, József shot Judith in the head while she was asleep in her room, and then shot his wife, Maria. József spent the next two days wandering around the house, and said during a phone call with Judith's agent on Tuesday night that he intended to move out for good, and just needed time to "say goodbye to [my] little girl."He then poured gasoline on the bodies and set them on fire. After incinerating the bodies, József went into the garage and shot himself in the head with a .32 caliber pistol. On August 9, 1988, Barsi and her mother were interred in unmarked graves at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
|Judith Barsi Death Certificate. Image courtesy Find A Death.com|
In 2004, thanks to the fundraising efforts led by Nancy Kelly and with the gratitude of many fans, headstones were purchased for Maria and Judith which can be seen below.
|Judith Barsi grave at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Image courtesy Find A Grave.com|
|Maria and Judith Barsi grave at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Image courtesy Find A Grave.com|
|At the very bottom, the name Maria Barsi can be seen for the sales transaction of their Canoga Park home. Image courtesy Propertyshark.com|
And the home as it looks today:
Three Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide by Gabe Fuentes. Los Angeles Times, July 28, 1988.
A Script of Fear: Repeated Threats by Father of Child Actress Carried to Tragic End by John Johnson and Gabe Fuentes. Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1988.
Barsi Probe: Judge Asked to Reveal Files on Slain Child by John Johnson. Los Angeles Times, August 17, 1988.
Local News in Brief: Child-Abuse Files Ordered Opened. Los Angeles Times, August 23, 1988.
Panel Scolds Agency in Girl's Death by Gabe Fuentes. Los Angeles Times, September 7, 1988.
A Lesson Learned from Family Tragedy by Sherry Barger. Los Angeles Times, September 18, 1988.
Local News in Brief: New Unit Urged for Child Welfare Cases. Los Angeles Times, November 5, 1988.
Child Actress Judith Barsi: A Life Cut Tragically Short by Denis Noe. TruTV.com, December 2, 2012.
Judith Barsi Photo Gallery -- Fanpix.net
Judith Barsi -- Find a Grave
Judith Barsi -- Find a Death
József Barsi -- Real Life Villains
Judith Barsi -- Wikipedia
Judith Barsi -- Suaviterinmodo Flickr Page
Judith Barsi -- Memorial Site (www.judith-barsi.com)
Judith Barsi -- Memorial Site (judithbarsi.dc-lundberg.net)
Death of a Family - Judith Barsi's Story. Youtube video uploaded on September 13, 2009.
Canoga Park Home Redfin Lisitng
Canoga Park Home Blockshopper Listing
Judith Barsi Home - Propertyshark