Judith Barsi began her career when she was discovered at a Los Angeles skating rink. She was cast in her first of over seventy commercials. Soon, she was doing guest spots on television series, appearing in over a dozen. Television led to films, including providing the voice for little Anne-Marie in the animated All Dogs Go To Heaven and Ducky in The Land Before Time. All by the time she was ten.
Any parent would have been proud of such accomplishments. Any parent but Judith’s father József. As Judith became more successful, József became more jealous. József, an alcoholic and unemployed plumber, was abusive, resentful, and paranoid. Before Judith went to the Bahamas to film Jaws: The Revenge, József held a knife up to his daughters throat and told her, “If you decide not to come back, I will cut your throat.” He was convinced that his wife, Maria, would take Judith to a photo shoot or movie shoot and never come back. Judith was taken to a child psychologist after breaking down in front of her agent. The psychologist identified severe physical and emotional abuse, and reported her findings to the authorities.
By the time Judith entered 4th grade, she was earning an estimated $100,000 a year which helped her buy the family a 3-bedroom house in the West Hills section of Los Angeles. József’s paranoia increased so much that he built a high-fence around the house, which could only be opened from inside. The constantly drunk József remained a recluse and threatened to kill his wife and daughter many times.
On July 25, 1988, József shot Judith in the head while she was asleep. Maria, hearing the gunshot, rushed down the hall to check on Judith. József met her in the hall and shot her as well. He left the bodies for three days, drenched them both in gasoline and set the house on fire. Then, he went into the garage and shot himself in the head.