Before 19-year-old Robert Bardo was obsessed with actress-model Rebecca Lucille Schaeffer, he was enamored by child peace activist Samantha Smith. Unfortunately, Smith died by plane crash when she was 13 years old, in 1985. Bardo’s infatuation then shifted to 21-year-old Schaeffer who, for years, had been struggling to make her big break in Hollywood. Though Schaeffer had landed a few minor parts throughout the years, by the time of her death in 1989 her most renowned role was on the sitcom My Sister Sam. It was on this hit show that Schaeffer played Patti Russell, a teenager who moves in with her 29-year-old sister Samantha after the death of their parents.
In 1987, two years before murdering Schaeffer, Bardo traveled to Los Angeles to visit the actress on the set of My Sister Sam. He was rejected by Warner Bros. security. A month later, he returned with a knife. Again, Bardo was turned away. Then, in 1989, after seeing Schaeffer engage in an intimate act for a role she’d landed on the film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, Bardo became enraged. Intent on punishing Schaeffer for becoming “another Hollywood whore,” Bardo hired a private investigator to obtain the actress’ home address. This endeavor proved successful. His brother then helped him obtain a Ruger GP100 .357 handgun.
On July 18, 1989, Robert Bardo rang the doorbell of Rebecca Lucille Schaeffer’s apartment. The two had a short discussion wherein Bardo showed Schaeffer a letter and autograph she’d once sent him (he also carried with him a copy of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the same book that Mark David Chapman possessed the night he shot John Lennon). Schaeffer then asked Bardo to leave and not return. After visiting Jan's on Beverly Blvd. for breakfast, Bardo made his way back to Schaeffer's West Hollywood apartment. This time, Schaeffer was less inviting. According to records, Schaeffer greeted Bardo with a “cold look on her face.” This prompted the love-struck Bardo to brandish his firearm and shoot the 21-year-old actress directly through the chest. Rebecca Schaeffer’s last words were, “Why? Why?” She was pronounced dead 30 minutes after arriving at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The next day, in Tucson, Arizona, Bardo was arrested for running through traffic on Interstate 10. He confessed immediately.
In 1994, California passed the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act preventing the DMV from releasing private addresses.