Who was Judith Eva Barsi?
Judith was the daughter of József Barsi and Maria Virovcz, both Hungarian immigrants fleeing the Soviet occupation, around 1956. The couple met years later in a Los Angeles restaurant frequented by immigrants, where Maria was a waitress.
Who was József Barsi, the girl’s father
József, before marrying Maria, had a troubled first marriage. Marked by abuse, physical violence and alcoholism on the part of József Barsi, the previous relationship resulted in two children, Ági Barsi and Barna Barsi, who were abandoned by their father, who moved to California.
Who was Maria Virovc , the girl’s mother
Maria Virovcz had an abusive father, both physically and psychologically. She always dreamed of being an actress, but never had the opportunity. She fell in love the very instant she met József Barsi sitting at the restaurant bar, and for her that man would be able to love and protect the family she had so dreamed of building. They married at the end of the 1970s.
Judith Barsi was the only child of this marriage.
Maria saw in her daughter the chance to realize her dream through Judith’s accomplishments, and from a very young age she began to prepare her with dance, posture and acting classes. Judith was not obliged to do this, in fact she loved it, and this was a moment of pure fun for both of them.
Differently from what everyone expected, that she would never become an actress and that the chance was one in a million, Judith was discovered, at the age of five, by an agent at an ice rink. The girl drew attention because she appeared to be two years younger and extremely communicative.
A growing career
After this, Judith’s career took off. She started earning about $100,000 a year, which made possible for the family to move into a larger house.
The girl began studying at a local school in Nevada. She missed a lot of school due to recording sessions and her commitments as an actress.
Sometime after this move, Judith’s father began to exhibit somewhat paranoid behavior. In one of these episodes built an iron fence around the house, which seemed very strange, since none of the houses in the suburb where they lived were fenced and the area was extremely safe.
In contrast to József, Maria was extroverted and communicative. And it was through conversations with neighbors that her husband’s past began to surface.
Judith begins to star in successful roles
Judith began to appear in many commercials, most of them for famous brands such as Mc Donald’s.
Watch the full commercial on YouTube.
That’s when the crew of the mini-series Fatal Vision discovered her. After auditioning, the girl received the role of Kimberly MacDonald.
As Judith’s success increased, her father became more jealous and abusive. He even threatened to kill himself and his family if he was abandoned. His alcoholism, which was already a problem, became much worse. As a result, he had three DUI arrests.
In December 1986, Maria went to a police station to report the abuse she had been suffering. After the police discredited her, saying there was no “physical evidence” of what she was talking about, Judith’s mother gave up pressing charges.
After this episode, József stopped drinking, but the threats and cursing did not stop. Judith was living in a very bad house, where arguments and physical aggression were frequent.
The man hit his wife in the face, tried to suffocate her several times, and hid letters from Mary’s family members in an attempt to prevent her from communicating with them and traveling outside of America.
Trichotillomania and obesity
In the beginning Judith was not showing signals of anything going wrong, but with the increase of violence, she began to gain weight and pulled out her own eyelashes. The girl also started torturing the family cat, pulling its whiskers.
Although their lives had improved a lot, they were living in a comfortable house and could enjoy a great living condition, József was never satisfied.
A neighbor, in an interview, remembered an episode which József reported he was jealous of Judith, because she provided for her family what he never could. And he considered her an ungrateful girl. He said she didn’t know how difficult it was to have to flee from a country at war.
Another local reported her father once broke the girl’s toys in the backyard because he considered her too spoiled and protected.
At the time Judith was 6 years old, just a child.
“The Land Before Time”, YES, YES, YES!
One of Judith’s best-loved and most famous works, released after her death, was the dubbing of the character Ducky for the movie The Land Before Time.
The producers believed her voice would fit the character perfectly, and when they asked her to do the job, Judith replied with an extremely euphoric “YES, YES, YES!“. This expression was later incorporated into the character and became Ducky’s trademark in the cartoon.
Violence intensifies inside the home
József began to direct his frustration at Judith, previously he had only attacked Maria. He pulled her hair and teased her, all because he felt uncomfortable with the attention the little star was getting from people.
Maria tried everything to get her daughter out of the house, even if it was only for small moments. They often went to parks, had lunch in restaurants, and used to visit friends who lived nearby. She tried hard to make Judith’s life as normal as possible despite what was happening in the family.
June 10, 1986 Judith turns eight
The birthday party was celebrated at a bowling alley, her father did not attend. One friend invited, reports Maria told her József would not be coming, because he was sleeping drunk on the sofa.
One of the ways the husband kept his wife and daughter from trying to escape was always to show them where he kept a gallon of gasoline. Then he used to describe how he would use it to char their bodies while they sleep.
“Jaws, The Revenge”, Judith Barsi’s first feature film
JJudith has been invited to star in her first film Jaws, The Revenge. The filming would take place in the Bahamas Islands.
When József discovered this, he went into their room and while the girl was preparing her bags with her mother, he threatened them with death if they dared to run away during the recordings. The girl’s father did not accompany them on the trip.
On the beach, between one scene and another, Maria cried, and told several people she feared for Judith’s life. But people stopped taking her seriously, because to each person she said one thing, and many times she seemed confused in her accounts. Sometimes she said she was going to separate and run away, and sometimes she regretted what she had said.
At the end of the shootings, Maria had already bought two tickets to New York, a city where she could stay with a cousin and get away from the cycle of violence.
On the afternoon of the last day, by phone call Judith’s father reinforces his death threats against the family, and this causes a panic for Judith and her mother to collapse in tears, giving up the trip.
They ended up going back home.
Judith had a problem in her pituitary gland, responsible for the growth hormone. This delayed her development and prevented her from playing characters her own age.
Maria started a treatment with hormone injections under the supervision of a local hospital.
The two began renting a daytime apartment in Panorama City, where they spent most of their time in order to escape the abuses of home.
She continued to star in films and commercials. At the recording sessions of one of these productions, Judith fell into tears while singing a song, at this point she told her agent everything she had been suffering.
Maria was advised to see a child psychiatrist, and after the first session Judith was reported to social service for child abuse.
The mother was questioned ostensibly, but it is not known if József was investigated.
In June 1988, József contacted his childrens from his first marriage. In this call he informed them he was looking forward to seeing them and they had a younger sister, Judith. The children accepted the invitation, and arrived just in time for their younger sister’s tenth birthday.
Ági, the 30-year-old sister, began to notice something wrong with Judith’s behavior, and when she questioned Maria she got confirmation of what she feared.
She offered to help, saying she would make the escape easier, but her mother had another plan: to make the house so messy and disgusting to the point that József could not take it anymore and go away.
Maria didn’t think it was fair to give up everything Judith had earned through her work.
Sometime later Maria notified the social service that she was separating from her husband, immediately they closed Judith’s case. The mother had planned to gradually move into the rented property in Panorama City, and even cashed some checks before her husband knew, the intention was to build up a financial reserve. She seemed determined this time.
July 25, 1988, the end
On Monday morning Judith was seen riding her bicycle on the street where she lived, and in the afternoon she had a meeting with a major movie studio. She never attended this meeting.
It was speculated in that morning the couple would have had another violent fight and Judith was upset and did not want to go. What is known for sure is the girl and mother put on their pajamas and went to their beds, but József did not.
He wondered what he would do next. Investigators believe he would have discovered Maria had an escape plan and an apartment already rented.
Around midnight, József took his 32 caliber pistol and entered his daughter’s room, killing her with a single shot to the head, next to her right ear.
Upon hearing the shot Maria would have run out into the hallway to confront her husband, but she had no chance, was forced to her knees and was also shot in the head.
He continued in the house for the next two days, living as if nothing had happened. Ransey, Judith’s agent, missing her, made a call to the Barsi home at noon on the 26th.
József answered, and she was surprised.
When asking about Maria and Judith, the husband replied that they had fled to San Diego and a black car had picked them up. He added he was only in the house to pick up some belongings and say a “last goodbye.”
The agent did not believe the story, repeated calls during the afternoon to see if Maria answered, but there was no return.
On the morning of July 27, around 8:30 a.m., a neighbor watering her garden heard an explosion coming from the Barsi. A lot of smoke started coming out of the roof and soon the whole house was in flames.
Firefighters arrived quickly and were able to contain the fire. Soon after, three bodies were found in the residence.
In the hallway was found the body of Maria Barsi, who was 48 years old.
Judith, who was only 10 years old, was found on her bed and next to her was a gallon of gasoline.
And finally József Barsi, 55-year-old, was found in the garage with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.
It was later concluded the explosion noise heard by the neighbor was the shooting of a firearm made by József against himself.
The coroner concluded all the members had died before the smoke spread, as there were no traces of smoke in their lungs.
Judith and Maria Barsi were buried in the same unmarked grave, which years later received a headstone with their names.
Final considerations about the Judith case
The LAPD and Child Protective Services failed. Judith’s family was never subjected to regular visitation and the father was never even investigated.
Two months after the family’s death and through a report in a newspaper, funds were raised in order to keep the social workers from being overwhelmed, and a new policy was imposed in Los Angeles: before any case is closed the family must always be visited.
Several child protection actions were created after this case.
The family home was repaired and sold to a new family.
Barsi Residence, haunted?
The discomfort revealed by members of the Bernal family, residents of the property in the town of Canoga Park, California for 19 years, came to light during their participation in the “Murder House Flip”.
“When we moved in we didn’t know anything about this house”.
Said Gaby Bernal, who occupies the room where the actress was murdered.
According to the Bernals, there is a constant feeling of a “shadowy presence” and strange things constantly happen inside the residence – they mention doors opening and closing by themselves and freezing winds through the property.
The family even kept several dreamcatchers around the house, especially in the room that belonged to Judith, to ease some of the tensions they felt. Then they signed up for the reality renovations to get their house looking new and becoming more comfortable for everyone.
The house then underwent extreme changes, eliminating several features and elements which had been in place since the construction.
Check out the official trailer for the show below.