Blake Attorney: Actor Target of Probe

Robert Blake's attorney says police are focusing too intensely on the actor in their investigation of his wife's shooting death, ignoring leads from the victim's shady past and the lonely hearts she allegedly bilked out of money.

"By ignoring the possibility that someone came from her past, they're overemphasizing Blake as a possible suspect," attorney Harland Braun told the Los Angeles Times.

Police have questioned Blake twice and searched his house twice, but said the star of the 1970s cop show Baretta is not considered a suspectin the death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, 45.

Bakley was shot in the head Friday night as she sat in a car outside a restaurant, waiting for Blake, 67, who said he had gone back to the restaurant to get a gun he had forgotten in the eatery.

The actor owns numerous weapons and has a permit to carry a concealed handgun. He told police he was carrying one Friday night because he feared for his wife's safety.

Housekeeper: Actor Worried About Security

Braun has hired a private detective, Scott Ross, to try to find the killer. Ross has learned that a man with a crew cut in his early 20s had been watching the actor's house for a couple weeks, sitting in a black four-door pickup parked across the street, Braun said.

Speaking with reporters outside the actor's home in Studio City, Calif., Blake's housekeeper said the actor was aware of the surveillance.

"He always says 'keep the gate locked,' and that's what I do," Lydia Benavides said. "I know he was afraid about something, because he says, 'Keep the gate closed. Don't leave it open.'"

During their searches of the Blake house, police seized two 9 mm handguns, more than 100 rounds of ammunition and credit card receipts, according to the Los Angeles Times.

An Unusual Marriage

In letters obtained by the New York Daily News, the couple alternated between threats, insults and affection as they tried to resolve differences over Bakley's past — which allegedly included bilking lonely men out of money for plane tickets to visit them and selling naked pictures of herself — and over her accusations that Blake was unfaithful.

The couple married after DNA tests proved that Blakewas the father of Bakley's daughter. The baby, Rose Lenore Sophia, was initially thought to be the daughter of Christian Brando, son of actor Marlon Brando.

The Daily News quoted police sources as saying that Blake had agreed to marry Bakley not out of love for her, but out of devotion to his daughter.

"He genuinely loved this girl," a police source said. "In talking to him, I got the feeling it rejuvenated him and gave him a new lease on life. I think he only married her because he was an old-fashioned guy who wanted to do things right."

But Bakley's letters, printed in the paper, accuse Blake of trying to buy her off by saying he knew someone who would pay $100,000 for Rose, now 11 months old.

"I knew it was just you trying to get rid of me thinking it would be cheaper than paying child support in the long run," an undated letter from Bakley says. "All of this is enough to make any sane person temporarily insane."

A Need to ‘Get Even With Mankind’

Among the letters reportedly found in the bungalow where Bakley lived on Blake's property were letters from men responding to personal ads she had placed in newspapers.

The letters, addressed to aliases used by Bakley, reveal her alleged involvement in fraudulent activity against men who responded to her ads, Braun said. He said she had been running such schemes for more than 20 years.

Braun said he told police about the alleged scams. "I explained to them what her business was," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Her letters would be an indication of who would have an inclination to kill her."

According to the attorney, Bakley usually got less than $100 from her correspondents, although occasionally she received as much as $2,500.

In one of the letters, printed by the Daily News, she defended running the ads and said she felt she needed to continue.

"I think psychologically it helps me get even with mankind," she wrote. "My father tried to get fresh with me when I was seven, while my mother was in the hospital having Joey [her brother]. He died before I could grow up and kill him."

‘A Celebrity Wife’

Blake and Bakley, who had been on probation after being convicted in Arkansas for carrying a fake ID, signed a prenuptial agreement in which she promised not to commit any more criminal acts.

Blake's lawyer told The Associated Press that Bakley was someone who "got herself pregnant" to become "a celebrity wife." In addition to her relationships with Blake and Brando, she had a daughter she claimed was fathered by rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis.

Blake and his daughter Rose reportedly were in seclusion at the home of his daughter from an earlier marriage, in Hidden Hills, Calif.

Born Michael Gubitosi, Blake began his acting career at age 5, appearing in MGM's Our Gang series. He appeared in a number of films, including The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and In Cold Blood, but is best known for Baretta.

In the 1970s series, he played a tough cop with a soft side who had a pet cockatoo named Fred and got tips from a pimp named Rooster. The popular Baretta theme song warned, "Don't go to bed with no price on your head … Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

ABCNEWS' Steffan Tubbs contributed to this report.

Comments