Like many other nights, actor Robert Blake went out to dinner Friday at Vitello’s, an Italian restaurant in Studio City, Calif. His wife, Bonny Bakley, accompanied him. After finishing their meal, the couple got into their car but Blake went back to the restaurant to retrieve something that he had left behind. The 67-year-old actor returned to his car to find his wife had been shot in the forehead, according to police.
Police investigators are treating Bakley’s shooting as a homicide and have ruled out the Baretta star as a suspect.
The investigation is still in its preliminary stages, police said Monday. No suspects have been identified and that the motive for the crime has not been established. Blake has hired a private investigator to track down his wife’s killer.
“The police didn’t really have a chance to understand her background,” Harland Braun, Blake‘s attorney, told Reuters. “So there might be a clue that we can find that they didn’t.”
Blake left his wife alone in the car so he could retrieve a gun he had left behind at the restaurant, Braun told Reuters. Blake owns numerous weapons and has a permit to carry a concealed gun, police said. Blake told police that he was carrying a gun because he feared for his wife’s safety.
Vitello’s restaurant co-owner Joe Restivo told CNN that Blake appeared flustered when he returned to the restaurant and asked for two glasses of water, which he drank. Restivo did not recall Blake retrieving any items from the restaurant.
Calls to Vitello’s restaurant on Monday went unanswered.
After finding his wounded wife in the car, Blake walked to the house of film director Sean Stanek, who lived across the street, CNN reported. They called 911. Paramedics rushed to the scene minutes later. Bakley, 45, was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Police ruled out Blake as a suspect after interrogating him for nearly five hours and searching his home.
“They [police] have taken routine tests from his clothing and his hands, which all came back negative,” Braun told Reuters.
Police recovered two 9mm handguns and seized phone records and other paperwork from Blake‘s house on Saturday, according to The Associated Press.
Braun was unavailable Monday for comment.
Bakley’s friends and family described her to the Los Angeles Times as a woman who had occasional legal problems. Within the past 10 years, Bakley had been arrested in Tennessee on drug-related charges and was jailed in Arkansas for carrying a fake ID, according to family members and court records.
“She liked to live on the edge, that’s for sure,” Marjorie Carylon, Bakley’s mother, told the Los Angeles Times.
Bakley’s family said she could not have created many enemies. They believe that her past actions had nothing to do with her murder, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Bakley married Blake late last year after a DNA test determined that he is the father of her baby daughter, born in June, according to AP.
The couple, who had been known to be suffering from marital problems, did not live together. Bakley lived in a unit behind Blake‘s home, Braun told AP. The lawyer said their relationship was improving.
It has not been determined why Bakley was so afraid and felt the need for her husband to carry a gun. Braun told AP that it was still unclear as to who or what she was afraid of.
“Murder is usually a highly motivated thing, but here we have a woman we don’t know a lot about,” Braun told AP. “Someone took that opportunity to kill her when Robert left the car. She was very vulnerable.”
After the incident, the actor’s blood pressure shot up as he waited in the car for police to finish searching his home, Braun said. He was later taken to an undisclosed hospital on Saturday night, where he spent the night under observation.