These Beauty Queens Had It All But Their Lives Still Ran Into Horrific Tragedy

Pageant queens hold a special place in society. They’re the essence of what it means to be beautiful on the outside. Magazines lust for them, and people around the world are fascinated and captivated by their beauty. 


It’s one thing to be beautiful, it’s something completely different to be a beauty queen. The standards are incredibly high, and the future is incredibly bright. It’s those same standards that make the tragic ending and collapse of a beauty queen so much more jaw-dropping. This article dives deep into pageant stars who had it all and ended up with nothing to show for it.

JonBenet Ramsay

It was the murder story that pierced the heart of America. JonBenet Ramsay, an American child beauty queen, was killed in her family’s home. A ransom note was left for the family, and her body was found in their own home eight hours after she was reported missing.


Wikimedia / Commons

There are many rumors and conspiracies that follow this case. It still has yet to be solved which makes it still very relevant today.


Damarys Ruiz

Damarys Ruiz
Twitter / @IntisariOnline

After being crowned Miss Venezuela in 1973, Damarys Ruiz had a very rough life. She died in 2015, but had been living on the streets for the last fifteen years of her life. She was interviewed in 2005, and claims that she chose to become homeless after living with a brother who was very abusive.

She said that he would constantly starve and beat her. She would call the police and they wouldn’t do anything about it.


Solange Magnano

Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images

Plastic surgery is nothing new for beauty queens. Unfortunately, plastic surgery would be the reason that Miss Argentina 1994 would pass away. Her name was Solange Magnano, and she was not new to the surgery table.

She was getting a procedure done to get breast and butt implants. She was 38 years old at the time of the surgery, and unfortunately, the liquid they injected into her body ended up killing her.


Joy McKinney

Joy Mckinney
Wikimedia / Commons

Joy McKinney was never charged with the kidnapping and sexual assault of Mormon Missionary Kirk Anderson because of a technicality. The former Miss Wyoming World was able to use the Great Britain’s Sexual Offences Act of 1956 to her benefit. The Act states that it’s impossible for a man to be sexually assaulted by a woman.

McKinney allegedly tied Anderson up to a bed and had her way with him. She fled the U.S.


Brandi Weaver-Gates

brandi weaver
Brandi Weaver Gates. (Centre County Correctional Facility)

Brandi Weaver-Gates has confessed to scamming friends, family, and supporters by pretending to have leukemia. The former Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International even shaved her head to make it look like she was going through chemotherapy.

She was able to get $14,000 during a “Bingo for Brandi” fundraiser. She faced charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property. She would even bring her family to the hospital for her “treatments” that she wasn’t having.


Mónica Spear

Monica Spear

She was voted the “fifth most beautiful woman in the universe” at the 2005 Miss Universe contest. Monica Spear had a bright future and was on the path to stardom in Venezuela.

In 2014, she was pulled over on the side of the road with her husband and their five-year-old daughter waiting for a car repair. They were ambushed by a group of robbers who shot both Spear and her husband. Her daughter survived the attack.


Jill Ann Weatherwax

jill ann
Twitter / @MrsHolmesTCB

After being crowned Miss Hollywood in 1998, Jill Ann Weatherwax’s life took a dark spiral. In 1998, after several arrests for drug possession and public drunkenness, her carcass was found behind an animal shelter in Fresno, CA.

By all accounts, she had been living as a prostitute for the last few months of her life. She’d been seen leaving a motel with three men on the night that she was murdered. 


Maria Jose Alvarado


Maria Jose Alvarado was attending her sister’s boyfriend’s birthday party. That was the last anyone would see of her. Her sister’s boyfriend became increasingly jealous of the way that his girlfriend was talking to other guys and dancing with them at his birthday party.

He shot down both of the girls and their bodies were buried in a shallow grave on the outskirts of town right where the birthday party was held.


Jamie-Lynn France

Jamie-Lynn France (Keizer Police Department)

She was voted Miss Teen Oregon-World in 2009 at the age of 18. Jamie-Lynn France was the talk of her town, and the state for that matter. Despite the fact she has a very geographically confusing title, she would be arrested in 2014 for drug charges.

She was charged with possession of meth and heroin. Just one look at her mug shot would reveal that the drugs had certainly been eating her alive.


Kumari Fulbright

kumari fulbright
Kumari Fulbright (Tucson Police Department)

This is a mugshot that really describes all you need to know about what happened to former beauty queen Kumari Fulbright. She was a former University of Arizona law student, and she had won the Miss Desert Sun beauty pageant just a year before this mugshot was taken.

She served a two-year prison sentence for orchestrating the 2007 kidnapping, robbery, and ten-hour torture of a former boyfriend. The story is jaw-dropping. 


Genesis Carmona


Genesis Carmona represented her Venezuelan state as Miss Tourism in 2013. In 2014, she was killed in a street protest which saw five other civilian deaths.

It was an anti-government protest that turned into a riot. She was shot in the head. Witnesses say that she was killed by a member of a pro-government group who came to attack the protesters on behalf of the state. The government tried to say that she was killed by another anti-government protester.

Irene Garza

black and white
Twitter / @letsgetattatoo

Irene Garza was voted Miss All-South Texas Sweetheart in 1958. But it was just two years later that she was found dead at the age of 25. A slide viewer that belonged to a Catholic priest named Father Feit was found by her body.

He admitted to hearing her confession on the night she was found dead but claimed he had nothing to do with it. A few years later, another priest said that Feit had admitted the murder to him but there was nothing done about it. 


Kiersten Rickenbach Cerveny

Twitter / @WomenTricks

After moving on from being crowned America’s Junior Miss, Kiersten Rickenbach Ceverny went on to become a dermatologist. Her life came to a tragic end when she was found in her apartment building laying lifeless.

There were bruises around her neck, but they apparently weren’t severe enough to have caused the death by strangulation. Reports have been inconclusive, but a friend says that she had been doing cocaine the morning she was found dead.


Susan Shaw

susan shaw
Susan Shaw (Honolulu Police Department)

In 1992, Susan Shaw was on top of the world. She was a beautiful, smart woman who had just been crowned Miss Hawaii International. Her life would take a sad turn when, in 2011, she received a 20-year prison sentence for multiple cases of ID theft that cost her victims an estimated $200,000.

The prosecutor on the case described Shaw and a manipulative person who had no issue harming her victims.


Peggy Sue Thomas

peggy sue
Peggy Sue Thomas (South Whidbey Police Department)

Peggy Sue Thomas was a former Ms. Washington who, in 2003, conspired to lure a man into a fatal ambush. The man who ended up doing the killing in this case got 80 years in jail.

Thomas only had to serve four years in jail. She claims that she’s the victim as she was forced to lure the man. She had promised him a Christmas gift in her car, where he ended up being shot and killed.


Alexandra Petrova

ho/Miss Universe Organization/Getty Images

After winning Miss Russia in 1996, Alexandra Petrova’s future was incredibly bright. That bright future was stolen away from her when she was at the wrong place and the wrong time.

While standing in a doorway with two other men, a spray of bullet hit the trio. There was a big mafia war in the city she was in at the time, and all three were killed. She was not the intended target. 


Katherine Rees

katherine rees
Katharine Rees (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

Katherine Rees went from hero to zero very quickly in 2006. After a salacious picture of her surfaced, she was completely stripped of her Miss Nevada USA title.

She hasn’t been able to recover mentally. Since that time, she’s been arrested and charged with possessing a plethora of different illicit drugs. The fact that she went from such a high to such a low so quickly was probably a tough pill to swallow.


Carmen Lechin

Carmen Lechin (Eagle County Sheriff’s Office)

Another day, another tragic ending to a former Miss Venezuela life story. 50-year-old Carmen Lechin was arrested in 2013 after a drunken airplane tantrum that started after a flight attendant didn’t give her a pillow.

Her outburst was so intense that the pilot had to turn the plane around. She faced felony charges for interfering with a flight crew. Can you imagine how mad the rest of the passengers probably were? 


Meghan Alt

meghan alt
Meghan Alt (Orange County Sheriff’s Department)

Meghan Alt was crowned Miss Orange County 2014. That’s a big deal in California, but Alt wouldn’t be able to ride that wave much longer. The 25-year-old mom was arrested for allegedly distributing naked pictures of a four-year-old female relative in exchange for money.

She was charged with distributing child pornography and lascivious conduct with a child. It’s really the worst of the worst in terms of committing a crime.


Agnieszka Kotlarska

miss poland
Twitter / @MorganaCusack

Agnieszka Kotlarska was a model in 1990 when she began getting stalked. She was doing very well both in her personal and her professional life. She became Miss Poland in 1991 and her stalker did not like the attention she was getting.

She moved to the U.S. to pursue a modeling career. After coming back to Poland just three years later, her stalker began calling her again. Kotlarska’s husband confronted the man, who ended up killing her and her husband with a knife.


Marsha Reynolds

Twitter / @fenomlife

She was a former track star at New York University and was the runner up in the Miss Jamaica World 2008 pageant. Marsha Reynolds turned to drug smuggling after she felt she wasn’t making enough money as a flight attendant for JetBlue.

She was trying to smuggle nearly $3 million worth of cocaine onto a flight but was caught at a screening checkpoint at the Los Angeles International Airport. Yikes.


Nouhalia Emlaki

miss universe
Instagram / @nouhailia_barbie

Miss Morocco 2018 made a tragic mistake that would cost two men their lives. After deciding to get drunk and go behind the wheel she swerved and hit a tree.

Sleeping under that tree was two men who ended up succumbing to their injuries. She was sent to jail and her case is being followed up. The prosecution is looking to pursue unintentional murder charges in addition to speeding and not maneuvering. 


Laura Zuniga

Twitter / @monkeyuc

After being crowned Miss Hispanic America, Laura Zuniga was detained for racketeering, drug trafficking, weapons violation and money laundering.

Police also found $53,000 in cash. The 23-year-old beauty queen is suspected of being involved in the lucrative Mexican drug trade. Police say that she and her boyfriend were the cartel’s way of getting into the Bolivia and Colombia markets. Her boyfriend at the time was a well-known drug lord in the area.


Teri Marina Silva Colmenares

Twitter / @dutertnomics

The 22-year-old beauty queen was arrested in a drug-bust operation in the Philippines. Teri Colmenares reached the top 25 in the Miss Philippines competition.

Police found in her possession two sachets and seven plastic bags of suspected illegal substances like LSD and marijuana. She denied her involvement in the drug peddling and said that it was her boyfriend who was the real drug dealer. They confiscated $90,000 worth of drugs when they found her. 


Michaela McAreavey

Barcroft Media /Barcoft Media via Getty Images

This was a murder that gripped the entire country of Ireland. Michaela McAreavey was killed while staying at the luxury Legends Hotel in Mauritius. She was on her honeymoon with her husband, and Gaelic football star, John McAreavey, when she walked into her room alone.

She walked into a break-in and instead of dropping everything and running, the thieves decided to murder Michaela. She was the former Ulster Rose Of Tralee, which is a big deal in Ireland, and is a beauty pageant of sorts.


Sarah Richardso

miss las cruces
Sarah Richardson (Las Cruces Police Department)

A Miss America and Miss New Mexico hopeful was arrested for drunk driving and had to turn her Miss Las Cruces crown over. She was driving her car late at night when she struck a pole.

The accident ended up causing a power outage to around 1,700 people in the area. She also swerved off the road which caused a few other cars to crash as well. Luckily no one was hurt, but her chances of ever being Miss New Mexico are out the door.


Sofia Magerko

Twitter / @univisionent

The 16-year-old Ukrainian beauty pageant winner was on Instagram live streaming with her friend when her car veered off the road and struck a pole.

It was late at night and in the live stream, you can see that the two girls are drinking wine. The stream continues as the two girls hit the pole. You can hear the bystanders rush to their car and ask for help from the emergency professionals.


Genesis Davila

miss florida
Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for GACP Sports & Sports Illustrated

Genesis Davila lost her crown after the organizers accused her of cheating and violating pageant rules. The Miss Florida USA 2017 winner was accused of violating the rules after her hair and makeup were done by professionals.

They say that their evidence is from an Instagram post she did. Davila is suing the pageant for $15 million for defamation. She argues that her photo was taken a week before the pageant and their client did not cheat.


Vanessa Williams

Jenny Anderson/FilmMagic

Vanessa Williams became the first African-American to capture the Miss America crown in 1983. She had many fans, and it seemed that everyone was on board for her historic victory. Within months, her reign was marred with scandal.

Nude pictures of Williams were snapped the previous year when she worked as a photographer’s assistant. She had to resign her crown because of the incident. She would go on to be one of the only beauty queens to actually have a successful career in show business afterward. 


Kristina Long

Kristina Long (Bolton Police Department)

Do you know where the town of Bolton is in the UK? No? Okay, same. But, anyway, Miss Bolton 2010, Kristina Long, was jailed in 2014 after a drunk driving incident that sent a passenger flying 75 feet in the air.

Her victim was left with a spine and leg fracture as well as a bleeding brain. 2014 was not a good year to be a beauty queen apparently, holy moly.

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