Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Menendez Brothers

Married Life

In 1967, Jose graduated from Queens College with a CPA degree. He went to work for Coopers & Lybrand, an international accounting firm. Kitty continued to teach grade school.

In 1969, Jose was sent to Chicago to audit Lyon Container, a client of Coopers & Lybrand. Jose so impressed the management of Lyon Container that they asked him to come to work for them as the company's controller. Jose was 25 years old. Jose, Kitty and their infant son, Joseph Lyle, born on January 10, 1968, moved to Hinsdale, Illinois. Kitty became a full time mother, while Jose worked hard and turned Lyon Container into a profitable company.

In 1970, Jose was named president of Lyon Container. The position did not last long because Jose and the chairman of the board became involved in a fight over the direction of the company.

In 1971, Jose went to work at Hertz, as an executive in the car leasing division and the Menendez family moved from Illinois to the East Coast and settled in New Jersey. Jose's second son, Erik, was born on November 27, 1971. In 1973, Jose became Hertz's chief financial officer. Jose rose through Hertz's ranks and in 1979, when he was 35, became Hertz's worldwide general manager. At Hertz, Jose earned a reputation for abusing subordinates. This reputation would follow him for the remainder of his life. In 1980, Jose's career ended at Hertz. Another man was brought in and made president and Jose was reassigned to the entertainment division of RCA, the company that owned Hertz.

In 1981, Jose was assigned to RCA's record division, which was saddled with overpaid, aging recording stars. Jose tried to turn the division around by signing the Eurythmics and Jefferson Starship. At RCA, Jose's ethics came under scrutiny. An example of Jose's questionable ethics was his practice of shipping large quantities of albums to record stores in order to make sales appear larger than they were. In 1986 alone, RCA was forced to honor $25 million in returned albums. By 1985, at the age of 41, Jose had risen to become the executive vice president and chief operating officer for RCA Records' worldwide operations. However, as hard as he tried, Jose was unable to turn RCA Records around.

From the beginning of their marriage, Kitty had always given Jose the freedom he desired. As much as he promised her that their marriage would be a partnership, in reality Jose made decisions for both of them, often without consulting Kitty. During his life, Jose acquired a number of mistresses. Jose's longest lasting affair began in 1978 with a woman named Louise, who was a dark-haired, self-confident businesswoman. Louise and Jose traveled together and entertained as a couple in Louise's townhouse in Manhattan. Jose cared deeply about Louise yet never gave any thought to leaving Kitty. He also never considered ending his affair with Louise. Jose felt good with Louise. She buoyed his ego. For some time Kitty was not aware of Jose's indiscretions. Jose was able to sooth Kitty with false, yet convincing claims of his faithfulness, but Kitty became suspicious of his behavior.

In 1981, Kitty uncovered one of Jose's relationships and walked out of their home for several days. Jose managed to convince her to come home, more so for the brothers than because he loved her, according to Jose's brother-in-law.

In 1986, at about the same time that Jose's career at RCA was coming to an end, Kitty found out about Louise. Jose told Kitty about Louise and his other affairs. This sent Kitty into a depressive spiral and she talked about committing suicide.

Lyle (left to right), Kitty, Jose and Erik
Lyle (left to right), Kitty, Jose and Erik

Through contacts that Jose had made while at RCA, he was able to find a position as the President of LIVE Entertainment in California. LIVE was a video-distribution and duplication company and was partially owned by Carolco, a movie-production company, best known for producing the Rambo pictures. Jose jumped at the chance to become involved in the film business and had no problem uprooting his family and moving them from the East Coast to the West Coast. At the time that Jose was brought in to run LIVE, it had posted a loss of $20 million for 1985. Jose saw another opportunity to turn a struggling company around. Kitty wasn't so positive about the move. She had spent the past 16 years building a life outside of her marriage. Kitty had an established a network of friends who she cared about and who in turn cared about her. Jose and Kitty had recently purchased a home in Princeton, New Jersey, that Kitty considered her dream house. Nevertheless, Jose decided that it would be in Kitty and Erik's best interests to move to California with him. They settled in Calabasas, an upper-middle class suburb in the northwestern part of the San Fernando Valley. Lyle remained beyond in Princeton to attend college.


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