Police Have Gun in Killing of Blake's Wife

ByABC News

May 14, 2001 -- Los Angeles police have found the gun they believe was used to kill actor Robert Blake's wife in a trash bin a block and a half away from where the shooting took place, ABCNEWS has learned.

There was still one bullet in the gun, a Walther pistol described as a collector's item, which matched the two bullets used to kill Blake's wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, as she sat in the actor's car on May 4 waiting for him to return from a restaurant where the couple had just had dinner.

Sources said Bakley, 45, was shot once in the shoulder and once in the head.

Late today, the Los Angeles Police Department released a statement to respond to what they characterized as media "rumors." Garrett Zimmon, the commanding officer of Detective Services in the LAPD, would not go into detail, but said authorities had not identified a single suspect.

"Contrary to some rumors, there is no pending arrest of a suspect in the case," he said.

Zimmon said he wanted to assure the public and the media that police are thoroughly investigating the case and "looking at all possible evidence and interviewing any and all witnesses."

Blake's Story Contradicted

Blake, 67, who said he had gone back to the restaurant to get a pistol he forgot when the couple left after dinner, is a gun collector. The Walther, a gun that used to be carried by German army officers, was not registered to him.

Blake, who says he was carrying a gun to protect his wife, said he found her wounded when he returned to the car. Bakley was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

ABCNEWS' David Wright reported on Good Morning America that one high-level source close to the investigation said that inside Blake's house police found a box of ammunition of the same brand used in the gun. Three bullets were missing from the box, Wright reported.

The brand of ammunition, Remington Peters, is a popular brand, though.

Authorities tell ABCNEWS when they searched Blake's house, it was in disarray with "I'm not going down for this" scrawled on the wall.

Two Sides to a Story

Blake's account that he went back to the restaurant to retrieve his pistol was contradicted by a busboy, who told police he cleared the table where the couple ate before the actor returned, and found no gun there, Wright reported.

Last week, the lead detective on the case said Blake had not been ruled out as a suspect and that it was "very likely" he will be questioned again about his wife's slaying.

"We have certainly not ruled out Mr. Blake," said Capt. Jim Tatreau, commander of the Los Angeles Police Department's robbery-homicide division. "We have not been able to develop enough evidence that, as far as eliminating Mr. Blake, that takes us in another direction."

Bakley's friends and relatives have accused Blake of abusing her. They claim the couple's baby daughter Rose was a source of friction. Blake, they said, wanted to keep Bakley away from the baby and would have killed for the child.

"I just said if I were you I would let him have that baby and let him raise it and get away from him," said Marjorie Lois Carlyon, Bakley's mother.

Blake's attorney has said the actor welcomes police scrutiny because he is confident it will clear him.

One of Blake's close friends, John Solari, said the former Baretta star was miserable in his marriage to Bakley, who had a history of petty crime, but insisted Blake would not have killed or had his wife killed. After all, Solari said he offered to kill her himself and Blake turned him down.

"I said, 'Robert, I'll take her off the count, please.' He says, 'John, I can't do that,'" Solari recalled. "'I gotta make this work.'"

Searching for Celebrity

Tapes that Blake's lawyer said Bakley made of her own telephone conversations seem to support the portrait he has painted of her as a woman on the make who hoped to gain celebrity by marrying a famous person.

The tapes, which the lawyer made available to CNN, echo the text of Bakley's letters to Blake printed last week in the New York Daily News, in which she explained that she felt she needed to victimize men in order to get revenge on people who hurt her earlier in her life.

"I was the kid that everybody hated in school, ’cause I was like poor and couldn't dress good and, you know, everybody always made fun of me because I was like a real loner type," Bakley says on the tapes. "So then you grow up saying, 'Oh, I'll fix them. I'll be a movie star,' you know, and it was too hard, because I was always falling for somebody.

"So I figured, why not fall for a movie star instead of becoming one, you know?"

However, Officer Zimmon, warned against casting judgment against Bakley based on evidence reported in news reports and said some news accounts could make it difficult for investigators to gather more evidence and interview other witnesses.

"We must remember that Bonnie Lee Bakley is not the one under investigation. She is the victim," he said. "We need to be sensitive to that."

Blake, born Michael Gubitosi, began his acting career at age 5, appearing in MGM's Our Gang series. He was featured in a number of films, including The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and In Cold Blood, but is best known for the 1970s cop show Baretta.

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