On October 12th of 1978, Nancy Spungen was found slouched under a bathroom sink. She had been stabbed in the stomach, just beneath the belly button, with a five inch blade; Nancy bled to death on the bathroom floor. British Punk Rock star Sid Vicious was quickly deemed the killer.
Twenty years earlier, on February 27th of 1958, Nancy Laura Spungen was born to Frank and Deborah Spungen; she entered this world with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Nancy grew up in Philadelphia, had a proper middle class Jewish family, yet she was always troubled. She was seemingly born wild, even in infancy Nancy “did nothing but scream”. This was no ordinary colic, and her pediatrician actually prescribed a liquid barbiturate (phenobarbital) to calm the girl down. Nancy reportedly needed psychiatric help by age 4; she got a kick out of terrorizing her baby sitters, threatened them with sharp objects, and she bullied her sister incessantly as well.
By the tender age of 13 Nancy had already been abusing drugs; at just 15 she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and attempted suicide via slitting her wrist with a pair of scissors. For all of her troubles Nancy was a genius who possessed an unbelievably high IQ of 172, and she graduated high school early. After highschool she was accepted to the University of Colorado, but was expelled within 5 months after stealing money from a fellow student and purchasing an illegal substance from an undercover police officer. Instead of receiving jail time, the teen was kicked out of the state and sent back home to Philly.
At the age of 17 Nancy’s parents realized that their daughter had been stealing from them to support her drug habit; deciding they’d had enough, Frank and Deborah booted the teen out of their house. From here Nancy moved to New York and later London; she got by on her feminine wiles living as a rock star groupie and selling drugs to the band members. In ’77 Nancy was in London; here she met a very young and sexually inexperienced bass player named Sid Vicious, the two quickly became inseparable.
Though it’s often said that Nancy introduced Sid to heroin, his mother had actually been getting him high for quite some time. Whatever the truth surrounding Sid’s substance abuse, there’s no doubt that Sid and Nancy were bad for each other; the relationship was codependent, obsessive, and toxic.
Nancy loved her drugs, she loved to party, and she fiercely loved Sid. The two had a tumultuous relationship – they fought hard, but it’s said that they loved one another even harder. Every member of the Sex Pistols heartily disliked Nancy, and what Sid had become since the pair had hooked up. He was like her puppy dog, he did what she asked, when she asked. This eventually lead to the breakup of the Sex Pistols, Sid going solo, and to the couple moving into room 100 of New York’s Hotel Chelsea for two months. They were both seriously strung out at this point, and they were physically fighting constantly.
As for Nancy’s murder, sometime between 10 – 11 am Sid claimed to have discovered Nancy, barely breathing in the bathroom, and he ran out into the hallway where he screamed for help. It was too late to save Nancy, and Sid was arrested.
Witnesses who had been with the couple the night before said that Sid had taken copious amounts (one account said thirty!) of a very powerful sedative called Tuinol; if this is true then Sid should’ve been unconscious or at the very least he probably wouldn’t have remembered what happened. The couple had fought the night before (they had constantly fought) and it’s rumored that Sid did confess, saying “I stabbed her, but I never meant to kill her”. He also claimed she fell on the knife. Whatever happened, the blade undoubtedly belonged to Sid, and he was blamed for Nancy’s demise.
Sid was arrested, but within a week he was released on a $50,000 bond. A few days later he smashed a lightbulb and tried to slash his wrists with the broken glass; the punk rocker stated that he wanted to join Nancy in death. Due to this, Sid was sent to Bellevue psychiatric hospital; he was briefly released again, then on December 9th Sid attacked someone in a nightclub. The rocker was arrested and taken back to Riker’s Island where he was incarcerated in the detox unit. Did was suffering from deep depression, and very much suicidal. This time when he was released, Sid’s mother, Anne Beverley, picked him up from prison. Ann had a monkey of her own on her back; she scored the dope, then mother and son went to party.
Since Sid had been forcibly clean during his incarceration, his tolerance was much lower than usual. The rocker could not handle his usual dose of heroin, and overdosed that day but managed to come out of it. Later that night, Sid asked his mother to shoot him up again; it’s a well known fact that Sid never, ever shot himself up, someone else always had to administer the narcotic. Anne obliged, and on February 2nd of 1979, Sid lost his life; he had only been 21 years of age.
One of the questions which remains is, did Sid’s mother intentionally give him too much heroin? Many believe that she did, in order to save her son from living a terrible life behind bars; some even claim she admitted to it while on her own death bed in 1996. Whatever the case, it’s obvious that the punk rocker had a death wish; he was ready to die.
Sid did leave behind a suicide note:
“We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye”
Nancy was buried in Philly’s King David cemetery. Anne tried her best to have her son buried near his love, but understandably Nancy’s parents refused to allow it. They were very secretive as to where their daughter was eternally resting. Sid was cremated and, once Anne discovered the location of Nancy’s grave, it’s said that Sid’s ashes were spread there.
I love this case, and you’ve may have seen me write about it before. What do you think? Did Sid purposely murder Nancy? There are so many viable theories. A common belief is that the pair had a suicide pact, and that Sid just couldn’t bring himself to commit suicide. Some think that while Sid was unconscious that night, someone else (possibly a drug dealer) came into the room and took Nancy’s life; others theorize that she did it to herself. Of course some believe that Sid was absolutely guilty of the murder. My personal favorite involves Rockets Redglare, but whatever happened, there’s really no way to prove what went down.
Nancy’s mother wrote a book called, “And I Don’t Want To Live This Life: A Mother’s Story Of Her Daughter’s Murder”. From what I hear it’s well worth the read.