Robert John Bardo is serving a life sentence today in the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer. He was 19 years old and an obsessed fan of the actress when he fatally shot her at her doorstep, the Los Angeles Times reported shortly after her death in 1989.
Bardo became a fan of the 21-year-old actress after she got her “big break” on CBS TV show My Sister Sam, E! Online reported. He wrote her letters and sent her small gifts for about two years before he paid a private investigator to find out where she lived, the article said.
Schaeffer’s budding career ended abruptly on July 18, 1989, at age 21 when she answered the door for Bardo, who she thought was delivering a script for The Godfather Part III to her West Hollywood home, the article said.
Her life and death is being examined on an encore episode of ABC 20/20, which airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time Friday, August 20, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
Bardo Suffered Serious Wounds in Prison When Another Inmate Stabbed Him Multiple Times
Bardo was an inmate at the Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County, California, when another inmate stabbed him, causing 11 stab and puncture wounds in 2007, according to CBS News. Investigators told the news outlet at the time that they did not know what prompted the attack.
“We have a number of high-notoriety cases, so we cannot jump to the conclusion as to whether his notoriety was a factor in the attack,” Prison Sgt. Chris Weathersbee told the news outlet.
The Mule State Creek Prison is a maximum-security prison for inmates with “sensitive needs,” the article said, such as high-profile criminals, gang members and sex offenders. The article did not name the suspect, saying he was “a 49-year-old prisoner serving an 82-years-to-life sentence for second-degree murder.”
Bardo was later returned to the prison after receiving treatment at a hospital, the article said.
Bardo Wrote in a Letter That He Had ‘An Obsession With the Unattainable’ & That He Had to “Eliminate” What He Could Not Attain
Bardo wrote letters to Schaeffer for about two years, but their content did not arouse suspicion, investigators told the Los Angeles Times in 1989. Detective Dan Andrews, an investigator at the time, said that the letters were “typical fan letters” including descriptions of himself, questions and comments about acting and questions about her. He also contacted her agents, but Bardo told the Times the content of their conversation was “the same as the letters” and “just inquisitive.”
Schaeffer herself thought the notes and gifts were “sweet,” E! Online reported. He mailed them to her at the studio lot where “My Sister Sam” was filmed, the article said.
However, a letter Bardo sent his sister in Knoxville, Tennessee shortly before the murder had a more “ominous” tone, the Times reported.
Marcia Clark, who was the Deputy Los Angeles County District Attorney at the time of the murder, paraphrased a portion of the letter for the Times as the murder investigation unfolded.
“I have an obsession with the unattainable and I have to eliminate (something) that I cannot attain,” the letter said, according to the Times.