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Legions of Fans Visit Selena’s Casket

April 3, 1995

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) _ The thousands of people streaming somberly past Selena’s casket showed more than their love for the murdered Mexican-American singer _ they signaled a show of force for a surging culture.

``She did a lot for the Hispanic community. She did a lot for our culture,″ said 33-year-old Lilia Pinon-Ortiz of Houston, one of more than 20,000 people who viewed her casket at a convention center on Sunday.

About an hour before the 12-hour visitation ended, the family opened the coffin revealing the singer, wearing a purple dress. A family friend said the decision followed some fans’ speculation that Selena’s body was not inside.

Selena Quintanilla Perez, 23, was shot to death Friday at a budget motel, allegedly by a personal assistant her family was about to fire for embezzling money from the Selena Fan Club.

A private funeral was scheduled this morning.

The Grammy-winner was an idol to young Hispanic women, a Mexican-American version of Madonna. But the bereaved passing her coffin ranged from young children to the elderly.

``I think that Selena was a good-hearted person and people could read that through her _ from little kids to middle age to senior citizens,″ said her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr.

Although rooted in Tejano _ the bouncy mixture of traditional Mexican music with German polka _ Selena drew together many Latino musical styles that earned her legions of fans in the United States, Mexico and other countries.

Selena was one of the hottest-selling Tejano singers and expected by many to cross over into mainstream pop with the release of her first CD in English. Only four songs on the English release were finished when she died, her father said.

The suspect, Yolanda Saldivar, was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail on a murder charge after police found her in a pickup truck, holding a gun to her head, outside the motel where Selena was shot. She surrendered after a long standoff. Her arraignment was scheduled for today.

Saldivar, who founded Selena’s fan club, was accused by Selena’s family of embezzling money from a San Antonio boutique and salon owned by the singer. She allegedly asked Selena to come to the motel after the singer’s family confronted her about the money.

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