Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Who Murdered Bonny Lee Bakley?

The Tapes

Later, Blake's attorney Harland Braun released to the media a number of audio tape recordings that Bonny had made of telephone conversations with others, one in which she discussed with a friend whether or not she should leave Christian Brando for Robert Blake.

"I thought he was cute when he was younger... I thought, well, when I met Blake I kinda wanted him but I kinda didn't because he wasn't like up to par with the looks," Bonny is heard saying on the tape as she spoke with a friend identified only as Ray. "I thought, well, I don't know if I really would want him the rest of my life because he's going to get even older and worse looking and I'm already in love with Christian... who would you go for? Blake or Christian? I'd probably feel more safe with Blake."

"Blake ain't gonna let you hustle him," Ray responded. "Blake's too slick."

"You think Blake is like a genius?" Bonnie asked.

"I think he's hip," Ray said. "You ain't gonna get a dime out of him... he's not a dummy. I think he's going to use you more than you use him."

"What would he use me for?" Bonny asked.

"Just sex," responded her friend. A baby could be heard in the background as they talked.

"I don't know if the baby is going to work for or against me," Bonny said. "Some guys don't like having a kid squalling around. They get on your nerves." She stated that she wasn't sure Christian Brando would like having a baby around for that reason.

"Is it really his (Brando's) baby?" Ray asked.

"Yeah."

"Bonny, did you ever try to figure out why you're attracted only to famous people?" Ray asked.

"It's because I wanted to be that myself," she responded. She went on to say that she was an outcast in school, in part because she came from a poor family and did not dress as well as the other kids. "You think, 'I'll show them. I'll become a movie star.' But it's too hard... if I'd kept romance out of my life it would have been possible. But I would have had to be like Katherine Hepburn and it was too hard. I kept falling for somebody. So I thought, why not fall for a movie star instead of being one. It's more fun. I like being around celebrities. It makes you feel better than other people."

After the tapes were made public, Bakley's attorney, Cary Goldstein, who was hired by Bonny's family members, blasted Braun on NBC's Today by saying that it was "disgraceful." He accused Braun of attempting to smear his deceased client, herself a murder victim, in what he viewed as an obvious attempt to "taint" the (potential) jury pool. He referred to her as Lee Bonny because that was the name he had known her by when he had represented her prior to her death.

"Before Lee Bonny's body was even cold," Goldstein said, "here's Mr. Blake's attorney trashing her on the national media, pulling skeletons out of the closet about her past."

As the media circus continued to swarm around the Bonny Lee Bakley murder investigation, The National Enquirer revealed that it had received secret tapes that Bonny had recorded of her conversations with Robert Blake and others. The tabloid received the tapes from members of Bonny's family and apparently depicted Blake's rage over her pregnancy and her refusal to get an abortion despite Blake pressuring her to do so. LAPD's detectives were interviewing one of Bonny's family members when they learned of the tapes that had been given to the magazine at about the same time that the tabloid magazine planned to publish excerpts from them. According to The National Enquirer's editor-in-chief, Steve Coz, the publication did not pay for the tapes and they planned to turn them over to the investigators.

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