Obsessed Fan Gets Life in Actress’ Death

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The obsessed fan who stalked “My Sister Sam” actress Rebecca Schaeffer and shot her to death on the doorsteps to her apartment house was sentenced Friday to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Robert Bardo, 21, who was convicted Oct. 29 of first-degree murder and the special circumstance of lying in wait, was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Dino Fulgoni, the jurist who convicted Bardo during a non-jury trial.

“What I did is an undeniable fact--and that is I did it. But that is nothing that I am proud of now,” Bardo said before the judge pronounced sentence.

The special circumstance conviction carried a mandatory life-without-parole sentence. Before trial began, the prosecution agreed not to seek the death penalty and Bardo agreed to waive trial by jury.


Schaeffer, 21, was shot to death on July 18, 1989. The day after the shooting, Bardo was arrested as he ran on a freeway ramp in his hometown of Tucson, Ariz.

Bardo followed Schaeffer for nearly two years, hired a detective to get her address, repeatedly sent her letters and got his brother to buy him a gun before he killed her in 1989. She was shot after answering a door buzzer.

The defense argument that Bardo was too mentally ill to premeditate murder was rejected by the judge.

“This is a man who hounded someone,” the judge said.

Before sentencing, Schaeffer’s parents told of a daughter taken from them too soon. It was an hour of anecdotes about an independent, funny and talented young woman, who co-starred in the TV series “My Sister Sam.”

“I miss her everyday,” said her father, Benson Schaeffer.

The actress’ grandfather, grandmother, four uncles and her best friend also told of their heartbreak.

Afterward, both parents were relieved.

“I’m so glad it’s over and I’m looking forward to dealing with some grief in private,” said her mother, Danna.

“I’m obviously pleased with the verdict,” Schaeffer said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Marcia Clark said Bardo’s true motivation was to gain fame as a celebrity killer.

“A normal person does not stalk and murder an actress,” the prosecutor said. “But this was less than extreme psychosis.”

Psychiatrist Park Elliott Dietz testified Bardo had been schizophrenic since childhood.

Dietz, who worked on the case of John Hinckley, who shot President Reagan, said he considered Bardo far more disturbed than Hinckley. He also said Bardo tried to emulate Mark David Chapman, the assassin of John Lennon, and visited the New York site of Lennon’s killing.