The shocking celebrity murder behind anti-stalking laws: 'Crimes that changed America'

In the summer of 1989, Rebecca Schaeffer seemed to be on her way to Hollywood stardom.

A deranged stalker would tragically derail that fairytale story and her shocking murder on the front step of her Los Angeles apartment building would lead to the nation's first anti-stalking law.

In Fox Nation's "Crimes That Changed America," Fox News contributor and Fox Nation host Emily Compagno revisits the infamous crimes that resulted in dramatic changes to the criminal justice system.

In the late 1980s, Schaeffer, a 21-year-old actress-model, had caught the attention of movie executives through her work in the TV series "One Life to Live" and her lead role in the breakout hit "My Sister Sam."

Actress Rebecca Schaeffer, murdered in 1989

Actress Rebecca Schaeffer, murdered in 1989

Unbeknownst to her or anyone else, she had also captured the attention of a killer.

Schaeffer was waiting at home for a script to be delivered in July 1989. She had landed several auditions in upcoming Hollywood blockbusters, including "The Godfather Part III," produced by Francis Ford Coppola, and this was her big shot.

There was a knock at the door.  She answered it, expecting to receive a delivery from the movie studio.  Instead, she found herself face-to-face with Robert John Bardo, a 19-year-old obsessed fan and stalker.

"He came here holding a letter that she had written to him," said Compagno in the Fox Nation episode. "She had responded to one of his stalking letters... he was holding it and she turned him away."

"Tell me about what happened then?" she asked LAPD detective Dave Escoto, who worked the decades' old case.

"He left. And as he was leaving, he thought to himself, 'I came here to give this to her. I'm going to make sure she gets it,'" recalled Escoto.


"Then he just came back, knocked on the door again," the detective continued. "She opened the door. She saw it was him. From what I understand, she says, 'I don't want that, go away.' And because of the rejection, he just went off, pulled out his gun and just shot her once in the chest."

Stunning video of Bardo's confession, featured in the Fox Nation program, shows him remorselessly admitting to the murder.

Escoto said that Bardo was enraged by one of Schaeffer's recent acting jobs, during which she filmed in a bed scene.

"He told us that he just couldn't take it, she was a Hollywood w**** now," said Escoto. "So that's when he decided to get a gun, get her location. ... So he hired a private detective who got her address."

In 1989, any person could go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and request an address if they provided a corresponding name and license plate.  After Schaeffer's murder that changed.

"In 1991, California created the world's first anti-stalking law, as a result of Rebecca Schaeffer's death," narrated Compagno. "But it had significant flaws, so Los Angeles County District Attorney Rhonda Saunders set out to revise it."

"The majority of stalking cases do not occur with celebrities," Saunders told Fox Nation. "It occurs with domestic violence victims, and these are the most dangerous cases. These make up 80, 85 percent or more of the stalking cases that we see. These are the cases that are much more likely to wind up with death, with sexual assault."

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