Robert John Bardo

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Robert John Bardo
Born (1970-01-02) January 2, 1970 (age 44)
Criminal penalty
Life imprisonment
Criminal status
Incarcerated at Ironwood State Prison
Conviction(s) First degree murder

Robert John Bardo (born January 2, 1970) is an American man serving life imprisonment without parole after being convicted in October 1991 for the murder of American actress Rebecca Schaeffer on July 18, 1989, whom he had stalked for three years beforehand.[1]

Early life[edit]

Bardo was the youngest of seven children. His mother was Korean and his father was a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force. The family moved frequently and eventually settled in Tucson, Arizona in 1983. Bardo reportedly had a troubled childhood. He was abused by one of his siblings and placed in foster care after he threatened to commit suicide.[2] At the age of 15, he was institutionalized for a month for emotional problems. Bardo dropped out of Pueblo Magnet High School in the ninth grade and began working as a janitor at Jack in the Box.[3]

In the 18 months prior to Schaeffer's murder, Bardo had been arrested three times on charges including domestic violence and disorderly conduct. Neighbors of Bardo also said that he had exhibited unexplained strange and threatening behavior towards them.[4]

Murder[edit]

Having stalked child peace activist Samantha Smith before her death in a 1985 plane crash,[5] Bardo became obsessed with actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1986.

After writing numerous letters to Schaeffer, Bardo attempted to gain access to the set of the CBS TV series My Sister Sam, on which Schaeffer played a starring role. Ultimately, he obtained her home address via a detective agency, who in turn tracked it via California Department of Motor Vehicles records. He confronted her at her home, angry at her for having starred in a sex scene in the film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills and thus having "lost her innocence." He visited her at her apartment and told her he was a big fan.[1] She signed an autograph, went back into her apartment and he left. About 15 minutes later, Bardo again rang the bell to her apartment. Schaeffer, who had been waiting for a film script to be delivered and thought the messenger had arrived, opened her door to find Bardo again. She told him that she was somewhat busy and asked him to leave. Bardo, who had come to "rescue her," pulled a newly purchased gun out of a paper bag, pointed it at her chest and shot Schaeffer. Per Bardo's testimony to police, upon being shot, Schaeffer screamed out, "Why?" and collapsed to the ground. Brought to the hospital by paramedics, Schaeffer was pronounced dead on arrival. Bardo was later arrested when observed walking aimlessly in traffic.

The prosecutor for the state was Marcia Clark, who later became infamous as a lead prosecutor in the O. J. Simpson trial (although she became prominent in the legal profession with her prosecution of Bardo). Bardo was housed in a Sensitive Needs Unit (SNU) for inmates such as gang members, notorious prisoners, and those convicted of sex crimes. During the trial, Bardo claimed the U2 song "Exit" was an influence in the murder, the song played in the court room as evidence (with Bardo lip-synching the lyrics).[6]

Bardo carried a red paperback copy of The Catcher in the Rye when he murdered Schaeffer, which he tossed onto the roof of a building as he fled.[7] He insisted that it was coincidental and that he was not emulating Mark David Chapman, who had also carried a copy with him when he shot and killed John Lennon on December 8, 1980.

Aftermath[edit]

As a consequence of Bardo's actions and his methods of obtaining Schaeffer's address, the U.S. federal government passed the Driver's Privacy Protection Act which prohibits state Departments of Motor Vehicles from disclosing the home addresses of state residents.[1] The law's impact has since been diminished by online address search services.

On July 27, 2007, Bardo was stabbed 11 times on his way to breakfast in the maximum-security unit at Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County, California. Two inmate-made weapons were found at the scene. He was treated at the UC Davis Medical Center and returned to prison, officials said. The suspect in the attack was another convict, serving 82-years-to-life for second-degree murder.[8]

As of 2013, Bardo is serving his life sentence at the Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ramsland, Katherine. "Stalkers: The Psychological Terrorist". Crime Library. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  2. ^ Mariotte, Jeff (2010). Criminal Minds: Sociopaths, Serial Killers, and Other Deviants (1 ed.). Wiley. p. 222. ISBN 0-470-63625-4. 
  3. ^ Perline, Irvin H.; Goldschmidt, Jona (2004). The Psychology and Law of Workplace Violence: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Employers. Charles C Thomas Publisher. p. 273. ISBN 0-398-07432-1. 
  4. ^ Braun, Stephen; Jones, Charisse (July 24, 1989). "Murder suspect seemed as determined as victim". Eugene Register-Guard. p. 5A. Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  5. ^ Snow, Robert L. (1998). Stopping a Stalker: A Cop's Guide to Making the System Work for You. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 72. ISBN 0-306-45785-7. Retrieved 2009-09-01. 
  6. ^ "Bardo Mouths Lyrics as Rock Song Is Played". Los Angeles Times. 1991-10-09. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  7. ^ "Police Directed to Evidence in Actress' Death, The Los Angeles Times, July 21, 1989
  8. ^ "Killer of actress stabbed in prison". USA Today. 2007-07-28. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  9. ^ Inmate Locator on the website of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved on January 2, 2013.