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Authors: Alison Gaylin

What Remains of Me

BOOK: What Remains of Me
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I would like more sisters, that the taking out of one, might not leave such stillness.



At Carpentia Women's State Correctional Facility in Central California, the thermostat is always kept at a chilly 55 degrees. There's a practical psychology in this, one of the guards tells me. In cooler temperatures, prisoners are more alert and productive, more courteous too.

“The heat,” the guard says, black velvet eyes belying his tall, muscular frame. “It does things to people.”

In a way, Kelly Lund's story proves out the guard's point, for it was on June 28, 1980—the hottest night of the year—that Lund, then 17 and hopped up on a combination of marijuana and cocaine, walked into the Hollywood Hills mansion of Oscar-nominated director John McFadden and, in the midst of his own wrap party, shot him to death. Was it the heat, not the drugs, that drove this ordinary girl to enter a home filled with Tinseltown elite—with uber-cool rock stars and impossibly sleek models and the silver screen gods and goddesses whose glorious faces graced the pages of the movie magazines that lonely Kelly was known to have stashed under her bed?

Was it the 93-degree temperature—and perhaps the blinding rage it sparked—that propelled this Hollywood have-not past a glittering constellation of haves and into McFadden's opulent, Moroccan-themed living room where, finding him alone, she pumped three bullets into his chest and skull?

I consider that possibility now, as the guard leads me into Lund's cell—the tidy, dull square that has been her home for the past seven years. And as I reach the cell to find her sitting on her cot in her institutional orange, I decide, in my own way, to raise the issue.

“Kelly, do you ever miss the sun?”

She turns her gaze up to me, her gray eyes hard, dry as prison bars. In seven years, Kelly Lund hasn't aged a day. It's hard to imagine she ever will. Her skin is unlined, the whole of her as impervious to time as she is to all transformative emotions—shame, regret, caring. Guilt.

“The sun is still there,” she says. “No reason to miss it.”

“John McFadden isn't here anymore.”

“That's right.”

“Do you miss him?”

“I don't know.”

“Do you feel bad about killing him?”

“It was meant to be.”

“His death?”


“How do you know?”

“If it wasn't, someone would have noticed me before I made it into the den.” She pauses for a moment, deciding whether or not to go on. Weighing her options. “I see myself,” she says, finally, “as an agent of fate.”

“Fate didn't murder John McFadden, Kelly. You did.”

Lund's gaze drifts, and for a moment, she appears immersed in the dull gray wall of her cell, as though she sees something in it that exists in herself. “You have your belief system,” she tells me. “I have mine.”

On one level, it is probably a defense mechanism, Kelly Lund's complete lack of spark, of color. When she was just 15, her fraternal twin sister, Catherine, stole their mother's car, drove to Chantry Flats—a remote overlook in the San Gabriel Valley favored by lovers—and took her own life by flinging herself into the canyon. An aspiring actress, Catherine had been everything Kelly Lund was not—beautiful, vibrant, and with a natural charisma potent enough to gain her entry into Hollywood's young party circuit at the tender age of 14. But she was also troubled, vulnerable—the type of girl who felt everything a little too deeply—and who ultimately, tragically, let those feelings get the best of her.

Conversely, it may have been Kelly Lund's very blandness that kept her alive and afloat in the same tank of sharks that devoured her sister. The block of ice to Catherine's fast-burning flame, Kelly had few friends, and—outside of a brief and puzzling relationship with McFadden's son Vincent—lived a largely uneventful life before committing the brutal act that would gain her the fame her lovely twin died for lack of.

“I almost didn't go to the party, you know,” she says to me now. “It was hot out and I wasn't feeling so great. But then, I changed my mind.” Never before have I seen a face so utterly placid, a pair of eyes so still.

I can't help wondering what those eyes must have looked like through John McFadden's lens a week before his death, when on his son's insistence, he'd filmed Kelly Lund. “Would you still have killed John,” I ask, “if he had been nice to you at the screen test?”

Lund smiles—the same smile she offered the world outside the L.A. courthouse the day of her sentencing. Not a smile at all, really. More a baring of the teeth. “How should I know?” she says.

The room grows even colder.


Mona Lisa: The True Story of

Hollywood Killer Kelly Lund

by Sebastian Todd, 1989

BOOK: What Remains of Me
5.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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