Murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer by stalker Robert Bardo shocked Hollywood: 20/20 on ID investigates

Close up of actress Rebecca Schaeffer
Rebecca Schaeffer was hoping to land a part in The Godfather III when she was murdered. Pic credit: ABC News / YouTube

In a murder that shocked Hollywood at the time aspiring actress and former model Rebecca Schaeffer was killed in her home in West Hollywood, July, 18th, 1989. She was murdered by Robert John Bardo, who had been stalking her for the past three years.

A star of CBS comedy My Sister Sam and dark comic movie Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverley Hills, the 21-year-old was hoping to land a part in the upcoming movie Godfather III. She was expecting a script to be delivered.

When her doorbell rang, instead of a script, she found Bardo standing at her door. He was holding a letter and an autograph that she had previously sent him; he was claiming to be her biggest fan. After chatting briefly, she closed the door asking him not to return again.

Bardo returned a short while later. This time, when Schaeffer opened the door, he shot her point-blank in the chest with a .357-caliber handgun and fled the scene. Schaeffer died a short time later in the hospital.

Mugshot Robert John Bardo
Robert Bardo was given a life sentence for shooting Rebecca Schaeffer. Pic Credit: ABC News / YouTube

Bardo, who was 19 at the time of the murder, had been obsessed with Schaeffer for three years; he had written her numerous letters. He had twice left his home in Arizona to visit her on the set of My Sister Sam only to be turned away by security. On the second occasion, he’d been armed with a knife.

Bardo, allegedly enraged by a sex scene in Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverley Hills, was consumed with jealousy. He hired a private investigator to locate her home address. Armed with that information and a handgun attained thanks to his older brother, he went searching for Schaeffer’s home.

Bardo was arrested while wandering on a highway in Tucson, Arizona, the day after the murder. On December 20, 1991, John Robert Bardo was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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See the case examined tonight on 20/20 on ID at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

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