Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Who Murdered Bonny Lee Bakley?


Bonny Lee Bakley was born on June 7, 1956 in historic Morristown, New Jersey, the eldest child in a working class family and daughter of a tree surgeon. Morristown, situated just west of Newark along Interstate 287, between Parsippany and Basking Ridge and near the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, is a quiet, sleepy little town with a population of approximately 17,000 with little to do for those who seek the excitement of a neon nightlife. As such, Bonny didn't much like it there as a young girl and teenager, and she began dreaming early in her life of how she would escape the confines of small-town life. She also wanted to break away from the terrible memories: she claimed to have been sexually abused by her father at age seven, and would later say that he died before she became old enough to kill him. Fantasies of future stardom and fame, that never materialized, helped squelch those unpleasant memories, for a while.

Bonny's dreams of breaking into show business actually began in high school where they remained just that — dreams. After high school, however, she made her first attempt to make those dreams become a reality when she did a brief stint as a model. She went to New York with aspirations of becoming an actress and hitting it big. However, Bonny's dreams never came to fruition and she ended up marrying a man named Paul Gawron, a laborer, by the time she was in her mid-20s. She had two children with Gawron, Holly and Glenn, both of whom are now in their 20s. But her relentless obsession with celebrities and her aspirations for stardom were insatiable and, shortly after starting a mail-order business in 1982 that would later become a major part of lonely-hearts scams she perpetrated against unsuspecting male victims, she and Gawron divorced.

Bonny soon befriended a would-be rocker in Palisades Park, New Jersey, named Robert Stuhr. He apparently had some peripheral connections to the movie industry. Stuhr managed to get Bonny and his own daughter parts as extras in the 1985 movie, Turk 182, which starred Robert Urich and Timothy Hutton. The part in the movie led nowhere, but Bonny persevered. Her friend Stuhr also ran a music company called Norway USA, and she recorded some songs that were considered by many to be absolutely awful. One of the songs was called "Rock-A-Billy Love," and another, recorded under the name of Leebonny Bakley, was called "Tribute to Elvis Presley" and contained a line in the lyrics that read, "Rock and roll will never be the same, Rock and roll Leebonny is my name." Years earlier, in the 1970s, she recorded another song that was just as bad, if not worse. The only difference was that the 1970s song, "Just a Fan," turned out to be somewhat prophetic if judged by the song's lyrics: "I am chasing a celebrity... there's no future in it I can see." An attempt to auction an authenticated copy of "Just a Fan" shortly after her death on e-Bay, with a minimum bid of $1,000, failed without a single bid having been received.

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