Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Who Murdered Bonny Lee Bakley?

Bonny's Address Book

Bonny Bakley's resourcefulness was apparent in her address book, which Harland Braun recently made public with the addresses, and sometimes telephone numbers, blacked out.

"Let me show you something," Braun said as he flipped through its pages for reporters. "It's really disgusting... This lady was completely wacko. She was absolutely evil."

The book contains 17 entries, and includes addresses for Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, Gary Busey, Sugar Ray Leonard, comedian Chuck McCann, Robert DeNiro, Prince, Jimmy Swaggart (a disgraced televangelist and cousin of Jerry Lee Lewis's), Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, actor James Best, Pat McCormick, Will Jordan, Chuck Berry, Lou Christie, Frankie Valli, Dean Martin and, of course, Robert Blake. There were other listings besides the aforementioned 17 celebrities — men of prominence and wealth, like a cattle rancher in Oklahoma and a man in San Francisco who owns racehorses and plays the stock market.

Braun also made public copies of her "day log," typewritten notes that detail the progress, or lack thereof, of the famous and/or wealthy men she had set out to pursue. An example reads:  "Send # to Gary Busey; Tulsa, OK, mother is Virginia, will forward mail." There is also a "young and rich" section as well as an "old and rich" section. In one entry under the "young and rich" segment Bonny includes a reminder to send Sugar Ray Leonard, a former middleweight boxing champion, her telephone number. She also included documentation that she had left a message for a man in San Francisco — "makes $170,000 a year, owns racehorses and plays the stock market." In an entry in the "old and rich" section she reminds herself to send a letter to the cattle rancher in Oklahoma — "owns a 320 acre cattle ranch, if he finds a girl that is true, faithful and committed to him at his death she would be financial (sic) secure," and signed it "Sylvia," one of many aliases she had used.

Bonny's resourcefulness, not to mention her persistence, as a celebriphiliac is also evident in the aggressive manner in which she pursued a relationship with Jerry Lee Lewis for years.

"She was all over us," recalled J.W. Whitten, Lewis's former road manager. "She would always stay in the same hotels we were in. She popped up at one of his birthday parties. Once she offered me money to tell her where he was. She actually thought she had a shot at being Jerry's girlfriend."

The problem of celebriphiliacs like Bonny Bakley is prevalent enough, especially in Hollywood that the police there have received special training to learn how to recognize it and deal with it.

"Celebrities don't like to talk about it," said Detective Thor Merich, who is with the Burbank Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Division. "Stars are sensitive about it getting out, so a lot of times we bury it. But this happens a lot. The only thing that makes Bakley's case unusual is that she was successful. She married the guy."

"In many respects," attorney Cary Goldstein said, "she was no different than the vast majority of American men and women who, given the choice, would love to marry a celebrity. She was just more aggressive about it."

"I hate the word has-been," continued Merich, "but common sense tells you that the B-list people have more of a problem (with celebriphiles). They don't have handlers and can't afford top-notch security. And they tend to visit the same places over and over again, because people know them there and they still get the attention they crave. They leave themselves open to this problem... you have to get into the psyche of the celebrity. Because as much as they complain about it, these people like being famous. They like walking down the street and having people say, 'Oh, my gosh, that's so-and-so.' That's why they became a celebrity in the first place. And your B-list people aren't getting that attention anymore. So they're much more susceptible to groupies or hangers-on or somebody like this Bakley woman."

"I've been in this business for ten years, and these sorts of cases have been a constant," said John C. Lane, Jr. Lane, formerly the lead officer in an LAPD celebrity protection unit, is now employed by Omega Threat Management Group. "There has always been an undercurrent of inappropriate pursuit in the entertainment industry. Usually it gets dealt with behind the scenes."

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