People across the nation were rocked by the 1989 death of former One Life to Live star Rebecca Schaeffer (ex-Annie Barnes), who was murdered at her Los Angeles home by Robert John Bardo, a mentally unstable man who had been stalking her. The case changed Hollywood, as well as the safety measures set in place to protect celebrities from stalkers.
This week's special episode of 20/20, airing Friday, April 12, at 9PM ET, will dedicate two hours to examining Schaeffer's shocking murder. Featuring a host of new interviews, including one with her former OLTL costar, Erika Slezak (ex-Victoria Lord), the documentary promises to reveal fresh details about the nearly 30-year-old case.
Schaeffer rose to fame as a teenage model before landing the short daytime role of Annie, whom she played for six months in 1985. She later went on to costar with Pam Dawber on the sitcom My Sister Sam, where she first began receiving letters from Bardo. After unsuccessfully trying to gain access to the set of the television sitcom, the obsessed fan obtained Schaeffer's address through a detective agency and showed up at her Los Angeles apartment on July 19, 1989. The two shared a brief conversation in which the 19-year-old fan reportedly convinced Schaeffer to sign an autograph. Bardo returned a short time later, and when Schaeffer opened the door -- expecting a script to be delivered -- he shot her in the chest at point-blank range. Schaeffer died in the doorway of her Los Angeles apartment building, just a few years after moving to California to pursue her dream of acting.
"We were just horrified," Slezak shares in the 20/20 special about how she and the cast of OLTL reacted upon receiving news of Schaeffer's murder. "How can someone walk up to someone and just shoot them?"
Police apprehended Bardo in Tucson, Arizona, the day after Schaeffer's murder. He was running through the streets, holding her photo in his pocket and confessing that he had murdered her. Bardo was later prosecuted by the Los Angeles County district attorney Marcia Clark, who later became famous as a prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial. He was convicted of first-degree murder and received life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Schaeffer's slaying shocked the Hollywood community, and the case eventually led to major changes in the law, including the launch of a national anti-stalking movement that still exists today and California's 1994 Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which prevented the Department of Motor Vehicles from releasing private addresses. The case also spurred the Los Angeles police force to create the first U.S. team focusing on stalking investigations.
Be sure to tune in to the 20/20 special about Schaeffer's murder case -- which includes appearances by Erika Slezak and Marcia Clark -- on Friday, April 12, at 9PM ET. In the meantime, you can check out a sneak preview clip of the documentary, courtesy of People, below.
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