Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Who Murdered Bonny Lee Bakley?

"Buzz Cut"

In the meantime stories began to surface about a mysterious man with a blond crew cut that had been seen lurking near Blake's home on several occasions, beginning a few weeks before Bonny's murder. Caldwell told the police and the media that Blake was worried that Bonny's lonely-hearts business might be dangerous, and that was why he made the decision to hire Caldwell — for Bonny's protection.

"He always knew Bonny was in danger of being murdered," Caldwell said. "My job was to drive Bonny around and keep an eye out for anyone who might be following her. When we arrived somewhere, I had to check out the place first to make sure it was safe and then she could go in. She was always in fear of someone killing her... Bonny Lee ripped off so many men, it was inevitable that one of them would eventually come after her. I saw a letter on a table from some guy who was really ticked off at her. It said something like, 'I'm going to get you for what you did to me.'"

According to Braun, one letter dated March 12 was found in her belongings that were turned over to the police. It was from a man boasting that he had taken a hit out on his ex-wife's boyfriend. The man claimed that he had been subjected to extortion attempts, and he told Bonny: "Don't even bother if that's your motive." Many of the men that Bonny had scammed were violent, Braun contended.

"She once told me," Caldwell said, "'I have an old boyfriend in New Jersey who's so infatuated with me, he says if he can't have me, no one can.'"

According to Caldwell, Blake tried very hard to persuade Bonny to give up her scams. He even provided her with a $10,000 a month allowance in the hope that would convince her to stop.

"But whatever amount Robert gave her," Caldwell said, "it was never enough. Scamming was in her blood. It gave her a thrill to rip people off. Even when the men wrote angry letters, she continued."

According to what Caldwell told the police, he first saw the man watching Blake's house less than two months before Bonny's murder, which would have been around March. He said that the man would often sit in a black four-door pickup parked on the street and stare at Blake's residence. After a while, he said, Blake became so concerned that he sent the baby to stay with his relatives in Calabasas.

"I was the first to see the guy," Caldwell said. "I named him 'Buzz Cut.'"

On one occasion, Caldwell said, 'Buzz Cut' arrived in the middle of the night, parked his truck and turned the lights off. He sneered and drove away as Blake approached him and shined a flashlight in his face. That hadn't kept him from coming back, however. He returned repeatedly over a month-long period, and on one occasion Caldwell and Blake chased him through the neighborhood, to no avail. Caldwell described the man as thin, in his 20s, and probably about five-feet, eight-inches tall.

Caldwell's interview with the police lasted approximately two hours and, like everything else associated with the investigation of Bonny's murder, the police had little to say about what Caldwell told them. Most of the details of the interview came from Caldwell himself, and there were no definitive explanations offered about not getting the license plate number of the pickup 'Buzz Cut' had been driving so that they could report it to the police. Caldwell did say that when the interview was over, he came away feeling that the homicide detectives were only looking at Blake as a suspect in Bonny's murder. It appeared to Caldwell that the police were being rigid in that they did not seem to be considering other evidence.

"It was clear to me they weren't looking for anything different," Caldwell said. "They have their minds set. I'm sure they think Robert did it."

"It's unfortunate that he feels that way," LAPD Lt. Horace Frank said. "Certainly we're not in a position to dictate how he feels. The investigation is going to be a painstaking process involving many different interviews."

For the moment, the police did not have enough evidence to charge Blake, or anyone else for that matter, with the murder of Bonny Lee Bakley. Although the evidence left a dark cloud of suspicion over Robert Blake's head, the police knew that Bonny could also have been killed by someone out of her past.

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