17 Years After Being Accused Of His Wife’s Murder, Actor Robert Blake Opened Up About The Crime

Image: Lee Celano/WireImage/Getty Images

When Bonnie Lee Bakley was murdered in cold blood in 2001, she hadn’t long been married to the Baretta star Robert Blake. So, soon after the fatal shooting, Blake was accused of killing his wife to end their so-called loveless marriage. But now the acquitted actor has finally spoken out about the saga.

Image: Republic Pictures/Courtesy of Getty Images

Blake entered the world Michael James Gubitosi to parents Elizabeth Cafone and Giacomo Gubitosi in Nutley, New Jersey, in September 1933. His mother and father were both performers, and soon Blake, too, would follow in their footsteps. Indeed, he first took to the stage in 1936 alongside his two siblings under the name “The Three Little Hillbillies.”

Image: John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

And in 1938 Blake moved with his family to Los Angeles where the youngster got his first taste of the movies. After starting out as an extra, Blake soon made it in Hollywood – most notably starring as one of The Little Rascals in MGM’s Our Gang short movies.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via IMDb

At this time, Blake was working under the name Mickey Gubitosi. However, in 1942 he started using the moniker Bobby Blake, which would eventually become Robert Blake. By the time In Our Gang ended in 1944, he had featured in 40 shorts, cementing his status as a child star.

Image: YouTube/ABC News

But out of the spotlight, Blake’s childhood was far from happy. At age 10 he started attending public school but was picked on and got into physical altercations with his fellow students. Furthermore, Blake allegedly had difficulties at home at the hands of his mother and alcoholic father.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Columbia Pictures/Courtesy of Getty Images

Yes, Blake was reportedly abused by both of his parents during his difficult childhood. And he would later claim that they used to punish him by making him eat his food off of the ground or by shutting him in a closet. The seemingly unhappy situation caused Blake to flee his family home at the age of 14. But this wouldn’t be the end to his woes.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via IMDb

Blake then joined the U.S. Army in 1950, remaining in service until he was 21. But after finishing his time in the military and finding himself unlikely to get a job, the former child star suffered from depression. During this dark time in his life, too, Blake became addicted to heroin and cocaine, selling drugs to get by.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

However, Blake’s savior came in the form of an acting class ran by the actor Jeff Corey. After signing up, he began to get his life back on track and eventually returned to the silver screen. And throughout his career, Blake took on a number of roles in both TV and film – eventually becoming a decorated actor.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

You see, Blake’s breakout role came in 1967 when he starred as criminal Perry Smith in the Oscar-nominated In Cold Blood.  For many, however, the actor is perhaps most famous for his portrayal of Tony Baretta in the cop TV show Baretta. And this would eventually win him an Emmy.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: United Artists/Courtesy of Getty Images

That’s right, Baretta ran from 1975 until 1978, following the escapades of an undercover cop who had a series of disguises at his disposal. Some more memorable aspects of the series included Fred, Baretta’s cockatoo, and the character’s catchphrases. These included “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” “You can take that to the bank,” and “That’s the name of that tune.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

After the show ended, though, Blake sadly never replicated the success that he found on Baretta. However, he regularly appeared on various television shows throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In 1993, for instance, Blake earned a third Emmy nomination for his performance in Judgment Day: The John List Story. In the TV movie, Blake starred as the eponymous killer. But less than a decade later, he would be facing murder charges himself.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

So, let’s take a look at the events leading up to this point in time. Blake met his second wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, in 1999. And prior to this, Bakley had already been married a total of nine times. It was also alleged that she had a history of taking advantage of rich and famous older men for cash. In fact, during the initial stages of her relationship with Blake, Bakley was supposedly also dating one of actor Marlon Brando’s sons: Christian Brando.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

Unremarkably, while Bakley was seeing both Blake and Brando she suddenly fell pregnant. At first, she informed both of her lovers that they were the father. However, Bakley later insisted that the child was in fact Brando’s and so she subsequently named the baby “Christian Shannon Brando.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

However, Blake refused to take Bakley’s word for it when it came to the baby’s paternity. As a result, he asked his lover to provide a DNA test for the child. When Bakley agreed, it was later proved that Blake was indeed the father. So in November 2000 the couple married and renamed their infant Rosie.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Silver Screen Collections/Getty Images

Unbelievably, though, just six months into her marriage with Blake, Bakley would be dead. Yes, she was shot on May 4, 2001, as she sat in her husband’s car in the Studio City neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the brutal attack, she sustained a fatal bullet wound to the head and was later found by her spouse.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Prior to the fatal shooting, Blake and Bakley had just eaten dinner at one of the actor’s most-loved restaurants: Vitello’s. And according to defense attorney Allison Shalinsky, the couple had been chatting and laughing during their meal. As such, there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary about their date. So what happened next?

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Following their meal, Blake and Bakley left the restaurant and returned to their car, which was parked nearby. As Bakley entered the vehicle, however, Blake supposedly remembered that he’d left something in the eatery: his handgun. So the actor went to retrieve the weapon that he allegedly carried for protection while leaving his wife alone in the car.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: -/AFP via Getty Images

And it was during his absence that Blake would later claim Bakely was shot. When the actor returned to the car, you see, he apparently found his wife dying from a fatal gunshot wound to the head. Consequently, it seems Blake went to a house in the neighborhood and frantically requested that the homeowner phone 911.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: David McNew/Getty Images

As you can imagine, then, the circumstances surrounding Bakley’s death were considered somewhat unusual. For she and Blake had been married for less than a year, and the actor had been carrying a gun on the night of his wife’s death. As a result, the star of TV and film soon became a suspect in the fatal shooting.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Jason Kirk/Getty Images

To the police, it seemed probable that Blake may have aimed the gun at his wife himself or hired someone else to carry out the killing. However, it was later revealed that the gun Blake had left at the restaurant was not the one that had been used. Yet, of course, the actor still had to protest his innocence.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

And that’s because there was seemingly other evidence that appeared to put Blake in the frame for killing Bakely. Namely, Ronald “Duffy” Hambleton – a retired stuntman – testified that the actor had attempted to hire him as a hitman for the job. Then another stuntman named Gary McLarty gave a similar account, saying Blake had approached him, too. So the situation wasn’t looking great for the actor.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Mel/Getty Images

As a result, police arrested Blake for the first-degree murder of Bakley in April 2002. What’s more, as a celebrity, the actor was placed in solitary confinement for his own safety and that of his fellow inmates. He was subsequently charged with one count of murder with special circumstances in relation to Bakley’s killing.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: George Wilhelm/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Now, if found guilty of this charge, Blake would have been eligible for the death penalty. And to add to that, the actor also faced two solicitations of murder charges and one of conspiracy to murder. Meanwhile, Blake’s bodyguard Earle Caldwell was also charged with conspiracy to murder.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Pool Photo/Getty Images

Both Blake and Caldwell entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges against them. And soon after, the District Attorney’s office revealed that it would not be pursuing the death penalty if Blake was found guilty. Instead, prosecutors were going for a life sentence, with no hope of parole.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

Blake was initially denied bail. However, the actor paid $1 million for his bodyguard Caldwell’s release until trial. And eventually, Blake himself was granted bail at $1.5 million, which he paid after spending almost 12 months in prison. In fact, while in jail, Blake met with Barbara Walters for an infamous television interview watched by 12 million people.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

In the 2003 interview, Walters asked Blake if playing tough men and criminals during his career had perhaps influenced his character. The actor denied that this was the case, saying, “No, the cops invented that person and shoved it down the press’ throat, and the press loved it.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

Furthermore, when Walters asked Blake if he’d had no involvement in Bakley’s murder, he said, “Of course I’m innocent.” And when the broadcaster pressed the actor on how he felt about the prospect of being found guilty, he said, “What are they going to do to me that they haven’t done already? They took away my entire past. They took away my entire future. What’s left for them to take?”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

In October 2003, however, Blake and Caldwell received some good news at a pre-trial hearing. You see, the judge disregarded the conspiracy charges made against the men. And a month later a prosecutor on the case told CBS that there was a lack of forensic evidence linking Blake to the murder or indeed the gun that killed Bakley.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Myung Chun-POOL/Getty Images

What’s more, retired stuntman Hambleton had his testimony called into question during the trial. It turned out that his motives for giving evidence were linked to being potentially subpoenaed by a grand jury himself and facing misdemeanor charges. All in all, then, circumstances were beginning to get a little murky.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Myung J. Chun/Pool/Getty Images

So Blake’s murder trial started in December 2004. The prosecution alleged that the actor had killed his wife to end their seemingly loveless marriage. The defense, on the other hand, called every piece of evidence linking Blake to the crime into question. Instead, they claimed that he’d fallen victim to false and inconclusive information.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Pool Photographer/WireImage/Getty Images

Then in March 2005, Blake was found not guilty of murder and one count of solicitation of murder. But the other count of solicitation was dropped after the jury failed to reach a verdict. As a result, Blake was acquitted of all charges relating to Bakley’s killing. It didn’t end there, though. In November 2005 the actor was found responsible for Bakley’s wrongful death in a civil case and was made to pay damages totaling $30 million to her family.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Pool Photographer/WireImage/Getty Images

Worse still, Blake declared himself bankrupt the following year. This caused him to appeal the civil case verdict, and his damage payments were reduced by half – from $30 million to $15 million. Blake later asked the courts to have his payments reduced once more, but this was denied.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/TheMediaDirectory

Following his acquittal, Blake has lived somewhat in the shadows. Though he did write a memoir entitled Tales of a Rascal: What I Did for Love in 2011. The following year, too, the former actor did an interview on the CNN show Piers Morgan Tonight. But Blake seemingly lost the plot when he was questioned over the murder of his ex-wife.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/TheMediaDirectory

Yes, the interview with Morgan hit the headlines after Blake’s irate response to the topic of Bakley’s death. In an expletive-laden outburst, Blake accused Morgan of questioning his integrity, telling the interviewer, “Nobody tells me I’m a liar.” Later, Morgan took to Twitter to call his encounter with Blake an “incredible interview.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

But while Blake initially appeared reluctant to address Bakley’s murder in interviews, in 2019 he unexpectedly began to open up. Yes, while appearing on a special two-hour episode of ABC’s 20/20 he revealed why he’s not acted since before or after his ex-wife’s death, simply saying, “Cause I’m half dead.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

Nevertheless, Blake was still refusing to let the allegations regarding Bakley’s murder get to him. And he had a message for the cops who had locked him up almost 15 years ago. Yes, Blake told 20/20, “I’m still here, you b*stards. I didn’t die in that box, you got it?… I’m 85 years old, I’m beat up all to hell and gone, but I’m still here!”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

And ultimately, despite everything that had happened in his life, it seemed as though Blake was able to see the bright side. He explained, “If you live to be a thousand, you’ll never meet anybody with more miracles in their life than me.” However, what exactly he meant by that remains unknown.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/ABC News

Blake’s 20/20 interview was aired three years after an investigator who worked on the actor’s defense team made his own revelation. That’s right, in 2016 Scott Ross told NBC News, “I do not believe for one second that he pulled the trigger… But yes, I do believe that he was involved.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/Two Cats New York Video Production

So the murder of Bakley remains unsolved. And while there are many who’d like to get to the bottom of the crime, Blake’s alleged involvement remains too painful for some to consider. For you see, in October 2019 Blake and Bakley’s daughter, Rose Lenore Blake, spoke out after reconnecting with her dad. In fact, she hadn’t seen him for almost 15 years.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: DAMIAN DOVARGANES/AFP via Getty Images

And while Rose would like to know the truth about her mom’s murder, she can’t yet hear Blake’s side of the story. She told Good Morning America, “I specifically asked him not to tell me. I don’t want to know. Not right now, I don’t think I am ready.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Westend61/Getty Images

However, Bakley’s isn’t the only murder to have sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry. Take, for instance, the killing of Karen Klaas, who was the ex-wife of The Righteous Brothers singer Bill Medley. Shockingly, the high-profile case went unsolved for 40 years – until DNA testing technology finally led experts to the perpetrator.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Karen Klaas’ friends stand at the back door of her California home and shout out for her. In response, though, they only hear a muted cry – a shocking sound that sends them running in fear. Then, after racing around from the back of the house to the front, the group see a man exiting the door. Little do they know that he has just strangled Klaas – and it will take 40 years for investigators to figure out who he is.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Gems/Redferns/Getty Images

But before we delve further into the tragic events of January 30, 1976, let’s discover a bit more about Klaas. While attending California’s Santa Ana High School, she counted Bill Medley as her best friend. And things took a romantic turn when she showed up at one of Medley’s gigs. You see, he just so happened to be a musician – both as a solo artist and as part of the duo The Righteous Brothers.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/Darrin Medley

In 2017 Medley recalled to People that he had once peered out into the crowd and seen someone familiar. He added, “Of all the people that were standing in the audience, I just could see her smiling face, and I said, ‘Wow. That’s Karen.’ So I got her number and I asked her out, and there you go.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Klaas and Medley ultimately got married in 1964, with their union producing one son named Darrin. Yet their partnership didn’t last long, as six years later the former high school buddies filed for divorce. The pair stayed on good terms, however, even as Klaas welcomed another son, Damien, and wed someone else – although that marriage would later end, too.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Plus, Medley had his music to focus on post-divorce, as his career as part of The Righteous Brothers had since taken off. In 1965 the duo had a chart-topping smash with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin.’” Amazingly, the track now stands as the song most frequently broadcast on U.S. radio.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Getty Images/Getty Images

Famously, The Righteous Brothers also had a hit with the classic “Unchained Melody.” And after Medley chased a solo career, he similarly saw a few successes along the way. In 1969, for example, he sang The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” at the Grammys, with this performance subsequently leading to a record deal. Then, three years later, a song called “Freedom and Fear” earned him a Grammy nomination of his own.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/True Crime Daily

Medley didn’t know at the time, though, that he’d soon be putting his musical career on an indefinite hiatus. You see, life for him, his son, Darrin, and his ex-wife Klaas was about to be altered forever following the events of January 30, 1976. Yet according to Detective Tom Harris, who spoke to True Crime Daily in 2017, the morning of that day was meant to have been a pretty normal one for Klaas.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/True Crime Daily

Harris told the website, “[Klaas] was supposed to go to coffee with her neighbors after she took her child to school.” When the 32-year-old mother of two never made it to the meeting, however, her friends became worried, and they decided to go to her Hermosa Beach home to make sure that everything was okay.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/True Crime Daily

Then, when the group arrived at Klaas’ house, they could tell something was amiss before they went inside. Harris explained, “They get to the back sliding door, [and] it was open a little bit.” So, Klaas’ buddies called out for the former Mrs. Medley – and they heard a very faint response from inside the house.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Chris Costes

With that, Klaas’ friends knew that something was seriously wrong. And upon hearing the muffled sound, they ran for help from the back of her house toward the front. As the group turned the corner, though, they found themselves in even more shock when they saw someone emerging from the front door of Klaas’ house.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/True Crime Daily

Detective Larry Brandenburg recalled to True Crime Daily, “The front door opened, and a gentleman came out with bushy, kind of long hair and a beard. And he said, ‘Hi, ladies,’ and this really startled them.” So, Klaas’ friends quickly called the police, who arrived on the scene and discovered the mother of two naked and bound on the floor of her bedroom.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: mcmaster639/Getty Images

Someone – perhaps the man who had fled through the front door – had tied one leg of a pair of pantyhose around Klaas’ hands. Investigators later determined that the individual had then used the other leg and a bra to strangle the 32-year-old. But the assailant’s attempt to kill Klaas hadn’t succeeded; while she laid on the floor unconscious, she was still living. It seemed, in fact, that Klaas’ neighbors had managed to interrupt her attacker before he’d completed his crime.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: sturti/Getty Images

As such, first responders rushed Klaas to the hospital in an effort to save her. Meanwhile, in Lake Arrowhead, California, ex-husband Medley received a phone call that would change his life. At that moment, he learned that his ex-wife was in the hospital in a coma – and her prognosis was grim.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/Darrin Medley

Medley told People in 2017, “There was no coming back [for Karen], and everybody knew it.” But while Klaas remained in a coma for five days, he had hoped for a miracle. The star remembered, “I said to her, ‘Come on honey, the boys need you. We all need you.’ Real positive stuff.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/Darrin Medley

Tragically, though, Medley’s encouraging words did nothing to turn Klaas’ situation around, as she ultimately died five days after the attack. And of that dreadful period, her ex-husband would later recall, “I was a wreck. It was a big-time out-of-body experience. I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe I am here looking at caskets for Karen.’ It just didn’t make sense. She was beautiful and alive and a wonderful lady.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Harry Langdon/Getty Images

Losing Klaas meant that Medley’s life drastically changed in another way, too, as her death left their son, Darrin, with only his dad to look after him. Medley explained to People that, at the time, he had been “a single bachelor living on the beach in Newport Beach.” He went on, “[Then] all of a sudden I was a single parent… I took some time off to get Darrin’s life back together.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Prathaan/Getty Images

While Medley and his son worked to rebuild their lives, though, police found themselves stumped by Klaas’ case. In 1976, you see, they didn’t have DNA testing and profiling as part of their investigative arsenal; such procedures only really came into their own in the 1980s. Still, law enforcement did gather up the pantyhose and bra used to strangle Klaas as well as a towel left in the vicinity of the crime scene.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/True Crime Daily

Of course, there was one more potential lead, as Klaas’ friends had seen that possible suspect leaving her home on the morning of the attack. And although police found themselves unable to solve the case even with the physical evidence and a description of that man, they continued to work on Klaas’ case as DNA testing and profiling became more and more advanced.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Reptile8488/Getty Images

For instance, in the 1990s detectives told the public what they knew about Klaas’ suspected killer. According to The Washington Post, he had been “a shaggy-haired, bearded man in a trench coat and blue jeans.” In 1999 investigators also utilized DNA from the towel at the crime scene to rule out five men whom they had previously considered to be suspects.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

This DNA testing also exonerated Medley and the other men in her life at the time. As Detective Tom Harris told True Crime Daily, “[Klaas] had remarried and then was divorced again. She had a boyfriend. We checked his DNA; we also checked her husband’s DNA [and] her ex-husband’s DNA. Everybody was cleared.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: spxChrome

In addition, detectives used a growing DNA database to see if Klaas’ killer had committed any other crimes and subsequently had his genetic information recorded. But after that test didn’t provide any matches, law enforcement went back to square one. In 2009 cold-case investigators thus began to get back in touch with sources from the original case files.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/True Crime Daily

That year, Harris told the Ventura County Star that he hoped a second round of interviews might drum up an old forgotten memory that could crack the case. On top of that, he said, “We start all over… see if we can identify people that hadn’t been contacted before.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: sanjeri/Getty Images

Ultimately, though, even these further efforts left Harris, Brandenburg and the rest of the investigators without answers. But, as it happens, all was not lost, as a forensic biologist who had long worked on the Klaas case came up with an idea. According to Brandenburg, the scientist called him up and asked him, “Ever thought about doing familial?”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP/Getty Images

Specifically, the forensic biologist was referring to a more modern analytical technique known as familial DNA testing. This method allows investigators to compare a genetic sample to those from criminals in a DNA database. And in this way, they can sometimes find partial matches by identifying family members of a suspect, which in turn may eventually lead them to the person whose DNA resembles the sample perfectly.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Yet although this technique provides investigators with a great resource for finding criminals, it has come under scrutiny. In 2008 American Civil Liberties Union science adviser Tania Simoncelli told The Washington Post, “If [famililal DNA testing was] practiced routinely, we would be subjecting hundreds of thousands of innocent people who happen to be relatives of individuals in the FBI database to lifelong genetic surveillance.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/True Crime Daily

Nevertheless, those investigating Klaas’ murder decided to use familial testing. Indeed, as Brandenburg later told True Crime Daily, he felt as though it was “all [the team had] left” to try. So, the case’s forensic biologist submitted the suspect’s DNA and awaited word as to whether or not Klaas’ case was approved for such treatment.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: zmeel/Getty Images

After all, familial DNA testing can’t happen in every case; it’s only permitted in a handful of states in the U.S., for starters. Plus, as Brandenburg has since described, access is limited to both the technology and data needed. He added, “You have to go through with the state, [and] they’re very protective of it. It’s very stringent; [there are] restrictions on it.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/True Crime Daily

Apparently, the California panel took months to decide whether or not to accept the Klaas case. But they eventually did – although another waiting game then began. Would the killer’s DNA prove to be a familial match with anyone else in the system? Well, Brandenburg fielded the response. He reported to True Crime Daily, “They ran [the sample], called me and said, ‘Nothing.’”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Preto_perola/Getty Images

It appeared, then, that the failed test was yet another dead end. Nevertheless, the Klaas case investigators didn’t give up on their quest to find her killer. And, fortunately, the team turned out to have someone – or, rather, something – in their corner. In 2016, you see, Brandenburg answered a phone call that would finally crack the case wide open – a whole 40 years after Klaas’ death.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/True Crime Daily

According to Brandenburg, the familial DNA lab phoned him one last time. And of that moment, he later recalled to True Crime Daily, “[They] said, ‘You want us to rerun this? We don’t do that too often, but we’ll do it on this case.’” Brandenburg agreed, saying, “Sure. I got nothing.” Once again, then, the wait was on.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

This time, though, the search would end in a strange phone call from the DNA lab. Workers there promised that they had some information to share, but it took them up to two months to do so. Before the results were finally revealed, however, a lab technician apparently told Brandenburg to sit down. Then, according to True Crime Daily, she informed the investigator, “They got a hit.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/True Crime Daily

It turned out that just after the familial DNA panel had run the first test on the Klaas sample, someone from the killer’s family had committed a crime. As a consequence, then, this individual’s genetic code had entered the system in time for the 2016 test. And after the experts had found the initial match, they performed further analysis in order to confirm that Kenneth Troyer had slain the mother of two in 1976.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/True Crime Daily

Troyer had a lengthy criminal history, too, comprising mostly of sexual assaults that he had committed in California. But while he eventually landed in jail, he managed to flee in 1982. And while police finally found Troyer in March of that year, he would never return to being incarcerated, as those in pursuit of the criminal ultimately shot and killed him.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Bogdanhoda/Getty Images

Furthermore, in spite of Troyer’s lengthy rap sheet, none of his DNA had ever been stored or recorded. You see, even up until the time of his death, no legislation existed that mandated this information be added to a database. When detectives had the technology to process Troyer’s DNA in the 1990s, then, they never found a match.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/True Crime Daily

But even with Troyer’s identity finally confirmed, investigators couldn’t answer every question about Klaas’ murder; they couldn’t discern the killer’s motive, for instance. They did know, on the other hand, that Troyer had had one relative who had lived close to Klaas’ Hermosa Beach home – clarifying, perhaps, why he had been in the locale in the first place.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: YouTube/True Crime Daily

Nevertheless, Klaas’ family still found solace in finally knowing the identity of the person who was responsible for her death. According to a 2017 report by The Washington Post, her son Darrin said that he could finally “experience the joy of closure.” He also lauded the methods through which investigators had solved the case.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Darrin added, “I couldn’t be more blown away with the technology. I want to give hope to other families that this kind of technology can be utilized to identify criminals. It’s extremely important.” His father, Medley, shared a similar sentiment with People after learning the identity of Klaas’ killer.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: via YouTube/Darrin Medley

Medley also tried to describe just how much Klaas’ unsolved murder had bothered him over the years. He said to People, “It is really resting on a different nerve that I never have felt before. I’ve been on stage in front of presidents, and that is just a different nerve. This is so ugly.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images

“But it is also so wonderful that they put an end to all of this so we can close the book on this,” Medley continued. And the singer apparently felt a sense of relief that Klaas’ killer had died long ago. He admitted, “I thought I would want to look the guy in the eye and deal with him, but now I am just real grateful there won’t be any court.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Mark Davis/Getty Images

In fact, Medley had come up with his own way to deal with his grief and anger: music. In January 2017 he said that he planned to finish writing “Beautiful Lady” – a song that he had started to pen in honor of Klaas. He added during his interview with People, “That actually will be a good distraction. The stage has always been a lifesaver for me.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT