Robert Blake Held In Wife's Murder

Investigators searched the homes of Robert Blake and his bodyguard Friday, hauling away guns and other potential evidence in last year's slaying of the actor's wife.

Police believe that actor Robert Blake — bound by marriage and a baby to a wife he hated and fed up because he couldn't find a hit man to do the job — took matters into his own hands and shot her to death in his car last year with a German-made Walther PPK handgun.

But detectives were tight-lipped about the case on Friday, refusing to say what evidence led them to arrest the 68-year-old "Baretta" star Thursday night.

"Robert Blake shot Bonny Bakley to death," police Capt. Jim Tatreau said just hours after Blake was arrested.

"We believe that Robert Blake had contempt for Bonny Bakley and felt he was trapped in a marriage he wanted no part of."

Detectives Friday took boxes, a shotgun and two gun cases out of the second-floor apartment of bodyguard Earle Caldwell. They also searched the home where Blake moved after his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, was shot to death.

Police Cmdr. Gary Brennan said a third location was searched, but he refused to identify it.

Both men remained jailed Friday, a day after their arrest. Prosecutors said they would decide by Monday if there is sufficient evidence to file formal charges.

Caldwell, 46, was held on $1 million bail for investigation of conspiracy to commit murder.

Police say Blake, 68, shot his wife outside a restaurant last May because he felt trapped in his marriage. He could face a death penalty prosecution.

"He couldn't believe it," said the actor's high-profile attorney, Harland Braun, who insists that his client is innocent. He has said that the "real killer" is still out there, perhaps a man left humiliated and furious by one of her lonely hearts schemes.

Blake, star of the 1970s TV detective show "Baretta," was arrested for investigation of murder with the special circumstance of lying in wait and two counts of solicitation of murder. Capt. Jim Tatreau said the latter counts involved "two individuals" but he would not name them or release any other details.

"They've been interviewed and provided statements," he said.

Braun said Friday that detectives offered the bodyguard a chance to get out of jail if he cooperated in the murder case against the actor.

"Earle was offered a chance to go home if he cooperated," Braun said. "But he had nothing to offer."

According to reports in the media, detectives think that Caldwell tried to hire hit men to kill Bakley and knew that she was targeted for death.

Tatreau said no offer was made to Caldwell.

After the arrests Thursday night, police said they believe Blake shot Bakley in the head minutes after the couple left the restaurant. She was found in their car about a block from Vitello's, a neighborhood dining spot which features on its menu a dish named for Blake.

Blake has said his wife was shot while he left her alone in the car to return to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he had accidentally left behind. He was carrying weapon, he said, to protect her from threats she received.

Blake married Bakley after she gave birth to a child she initially said was fathered either by Blake or Christian Brando. DNA tests showed Blake was the father and he married her. But Bakley was relegated to a cottage behind Blake's house.

After the killing, Blake's attorney sought to show that there could be many suspects other than the actor because Bakley ran a mail-order business soliciting money from lonely men who answered her ads in magazines and newspapers.