The murder of "Rebel Without a Cause" star Sal Mineo has been the subject of countless conspiracy theories.
The actor was on his way home from rehearsals at the Westwood Playhouse when he was stabbed to death on Feb. 12, 1976, The New York Times reported at the time.
Mineo was gay and police first thought this had something to do with his death. They only later ruled this out, after catching the killer two years later.
Michael Gregg Michaud, the author of "Sal Mineo: A Biography," interviewed dozens of friends, relatives, and sources to obtain an insider's view of how events unfolded.
He spoke to Fox News about details surrounding the case.
Michaud explained that police investigating the murder visited Mineo's apartment and found gay magazines and leather pants in his closet.
Being gay at the time would have destroyed his career, so Mineo chose to stay with his longtime partner Courtney Burr. The discovery had everyone questioning whether the crime was motivated by Mineo's personal life.
"They just seemed to make this crazy blind leap, concluding it was a gay murder," said Michaud. "It didn't mean that they didn't take the case seriously. But it really turned the investigation in a very different direction, which is why it took so long to finally get the truth. It's a shame because it demeaned Sal in the public. It made it very sordid when it wasn't."
A break in the case came after reports emerged that a man who was arrested on bad check charges had been bragging about killing Mineo.
Lionel Williams became the prime suspect after his wife told authorities that he came home covered in blood the night of the murder.
Williams was arrested, and in 1979 he was sentenced to 50 years behind bars for the murder of Mineo. He was also found guilty of committing 10 robberies.
The arrest did nothing to quell the conspiracy theories.
"There are people who still question his death," Michaud said of Mineo. "Even to this day, people still question his death. There are still people on social media who contact me and ask, 'Wasn't this a sex killing?' It never seems to go away."
Despite the rumors, Michaud insisted that Mineo was killed in an armed robbery.
Williams "didn't even know who he was," Michaud explained. "He had been on a crime spree for a week or 10 days before. This was the first time anyone was fatally injured. Sal cried out for help when he saw this guy approach him. [Williams] had a knife and stabbed him, probably not meaning to kill him, but just to shut him up. But the stab was fatal. There's no doubt he killed him. But still today, there are people who questioned it."
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.