BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- An entertainment industry executive and his wife were found shot to death on a couch in the family room of their mansion, police said Monday.
Joseph E. Menendez, 45, and his wife, Mary Kitty Menendez, 44, were found dead shortly before midnight Sunday by their sons, Lyle, 21, and Eric, 18, police Lt. Bob Curtis said.
Curtis said a motive for the slaying had not been determined and no arrests were made. Police refused to disclose details of the slaying, including what type of weapon may have been used.
One of the Menendez's sons called police at 11:47 p.m. Sunday. When police arrived, they found the victims dead on the family room couch. Both had been shot repeatedly.
'Apparently there were no other persons in the home when the crime occurred,' Curtis said, adding the Mediterranean-style home had not been ransacked. It was not immediately clear how the assailants entered the home.
Several people were questioned by police but were released.
The Cuban-born Menendez was chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based LIVE Entertainment Inc., parent company of International Video Entertainment Inc., which distributes children's programming and such films as 'Rambo.'
The company also owns Stawberries Records, Tapes & CDs, an 85-store chain on the East Coast, and Lieberman Enterprises, a Minneapolis video distribution and production company.
'We heard the shots last night,' said Avril Krom, who lives next door to the Menendez family. 'I thought it was firecrackers. My son said, 'Call the police,' and I said, 'Don't be silly, it's just firecrackers.''
The victims' sons had been at the movies, she said. 'My daughter heard the screams when they came home,' she said.
She described the Menendez family as 'vocal,' but said none of the Menendezes had introduced themselves to neighbors after moving in.
The Menendezes, according to property records, moved in October 1988 from a $950,000 house in Calabasas to their $4 million mansion. The home had previously been rented by rock star Elton John, Prince, and members of the band U2.
Police said the last murders in Beverly Hills involved a double homicide at a jewelry store in April 1988, and neighbors also recalled that an elderly couple recently had been beaten and robbed.
'It's a great neighborhood,' Krom said. 'It used to be anyway.'
Menendez, a certified public accountant educated in New York, also was executive vice president of Carolco Pictures Inc., a producer-distributor of theatrical films.
'All of us at Carolco are shocked by the apparent murder of Jose Menendez and his wife,' said Peter Hoffman, Carolco's president and chief executive officer. 'Jose was a valued member of our team and we will all miss him.'
LIVE said its executive committee met Monday shortly after learning of the slayings and appointed Hoffman as acting chairman and chief executive officer to replace Menendez.
Before assuming his post at LIVE, Menendez spent 14 years with RCA Corp. From 1980-86, he was with RCA-Ariola, serving in various capacities, including executive vice president and chief operating officer, responsible for worldwide operations, including video, direct marketing and manufacturing.
His years with RCA also included a position as executive vice president of the company's Hertz Corp. car rental, directing all of the subsidiary's U.S. operations.
LIVE bought the Strawberries chain earlier this year. In an interview at the time, Menendez said the chain would be expanded to 300 stores over the next five years with the idea of selling videos, compact discs and computer software under the same roof.
'Computer software is doing very well right now, but it has not exploded,' Menendez said. 'We think it will.'
Last week, LIVE posted six-month earnings of $3.1 million on revenues of $156.8 million.