Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Who Murdered Bonny Lee Bakley?

The Investigation Continues

To this date, Bonny Lee Bakley's autopsy report has not been released. As such, the public still does not know for certain whether Bonny was shot in the right side of the head or the left, even though both have been reported in the media. It was information that could prove critical to the case, and was perhaps why the police were playing it close to the chest on this one.

Among the things that were eventually released or leaked to the public was the fact that the driver side window was rolled up when the police had arrived on the scene, and the detectives had been unable to find any witnesses to the actual shooting or, for that matter, anyone who might have heard her scream out of fear or cry out for help. Also, there was no evidence that Bonny had made any attempt at escape. As a result the detectives theorized that Bonny's killer would likely have been inside the car with her, sitting in the driver's seat, a strong indication that she knew and trusted the person who had killed her. They postulated that she would not have remained inside the car if a stranger had opened the door and got inside with her, or at the very least she would have made an attempt to escape.

But who could have done it? The cops wondered. If Blake had done it in the manner that they theorized, wouldn't he surely have been spattered with blood blowback from the bullet's entrance wound if he had been that close to her? No one reported seeing a bloody Robert Blake — not Sean Stanek, not Joseph Restivo at Vitello's, nor any of the customers or employees of the restaurant. If he had opened the driver's side car door and stood back about four or five feet and fired the weapon, it was plausible but not all that likely that he would have avoided the blood blowback spatters when the bullet struck tissue and bone. There would have likely been minute traces on his clothing and/or face and hands that might not be visible to the naked eye, but these would have been revealed in the tests conducted later. It was possible that the rolled up window and car door, if only partially opened enough to allow room for a person's hand holding a weapon, could have shielded the shooter from much of the blood spatter. It could also help explain why Bonny had been shot in the shoulder in that the shooter might have had difficulty aiming the gun within the limited and confined area of a partially opened car door. This was, of course, mostly theory and conjecture at this point, being fueled in part by a frenzied media that was not receiving any information from the police. Although the information surrounding Bonny's murder was officially being withheld from the public, it eventually leaked out that Jenks, Parga and Harvey, as well as a number of other LAPD detectives, determined that Bonny had been shot from inside the car. Nonetheless, the reality of it all was simply that there were a number of possibilities with regard to how Bonny was shot as well as to who had shot her.

Meanwhile, with the weapon's serial number now identified, the LAPD detectives, who had assistance from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, traced ownership of the Walther PPK as far as they could. They hit a dead end when they learned that it had been sold at a gun show — no records of the transaction had been kept. Without a complete paper trail to follow, the detectives resigned themselves to the fact that it could have made it into anyone's hands by the time of Bonny's murder. One thing seemed certain: they had been unable to link the gun to Robert Blake. Or had they?

As they pushed forward in their investigation, according to the tabloid newspaper, The National Enquirer, which quoted an unnamed police source who supposedly provided its reporters with information about the case, a man who claimed that he had sold Robert Blake a Walther PPK, complete with a full clip of ammunition, contacted the detectives. Excited that the man might be the big break in the case that they had been looking for, the detectives were eager to interview him. Their hopes were quickly dashed, however, when the man was unable to provide the cops with any paperwork bearing the gun's serial number. Without it, there was no way that they could conclusively say that the Walther PPK that had purportedly been sold to Blake was the same weapon that they had in their possession.

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