The Mysterious Death of Bobby Fuller - Unsolved Mysteries

Police concluded the 60’s musician committed suicide, but his family suspects he was murdered.

Bobby Fuller

Mysterious death scene

CASE DETAILS

On July 18, 1966, the lifeless body of a popular, young rock star was found in the front seat of his car in Hollywood, California. His name was Bobby Fuller. His band, The Bobby Fuller Four, hit it big when, “I Fought The Law” shot to the top of the charts.  They were four country boys from El Paso and Bobby was the star. Randy Fuller is Bobby’s brother:

“They said he’d have been like Elvis Presley. Everybody that knew him would describe him as a musical genius.”

Bob Keane, owner & president, Del-Fi Records:

“Bobby was one of the most on-purpose musicians I’ve ever met in my life. He was gonna be it. He was gonna do it.”

Edna Gunderson, Pop Music Critic, USA Today:

“It was something that came from within him. And I think he was very driven from an early age.  He was single-minded in the pursuit of music.”

Why was there gasoline at the crime scene?

When police suggested that Bobby Fuller committed suicide, it was the beginning of a mystery that continues to this day. Radio host Casey Kasem knew him well:

“When I heard Bobby was dead and that somebody had said he had committed suicide, I said, ‘That’s not the Bobby I know.’  I mean, here was a man who had everything to live for.”

Bobby Fuller was born with music in his blood. His idols were Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, and especially fellow Texan, Buddy Holly. When Bobby came to Hollywood and signed with Del-Fi Records, he seemed destined to be the next big star. By 1966, the band was headlining at hot spots across the country.

The autopsy report was inconclusive

From the moment his body was discovered, police thought it was suicide, even though Bobby’s body was in full rigor mortis when they found him. This suggested that he had been dead for several hours. And according to Bobby’s mother, suicide just didn’t make sense. She also claimed that Bobby’s car had been gone all night and was still not there when she checked during the following day. It wasn’t until 5 P.M., when Bobby’s mother went to pick up the mail, that the car had mysteriously appeared with her son’s body inside. Edna Gunderson:

“The problem here is that dead men don’t drive cars, and that car got into that lot and Bobby did not drive it.  So the question is, who did? Where did it come from? Why did they bring it back? Where did they go?”

The death scene itself was strange. There was blood on Bobby’s face and chest and on the car seat. His body and clothes were soaked with gasoline. On the floorboard, was a partly full gas can with a rubber hose attached to the spout. Bob Keane of Del-Fi Records arrived while police were still investigating:

“At about the same time I got there, the plain-clothes detective threw the can of gas in the dumpster. He said, ‘It’s just another rock and roll punk. He committed suicide or something like that.’ The police department didn’t do anything. They didn’t take prints.  They didn’t ask any questions of anybody. It was just like he was a bum off the street.”

Rumors of a drug overdose at a party

At first, it was thought that Bobby died after drinking gasoline. But the autopsy revealed no gasoline in his stomach. His death was then attributed to inhaling gasoline fumes.
According to Edna Gunderson, the coroner’s report had discrepancies:

“On one page, it’s marked an accident. On another page, there’s a question mark next to the word “accident”, and a question mark next to the word “suicide”.  There was nothing conclusive to suggest that Bobby had committed suicide. The other unusual aspect of this case, was that Bobby looked as if he had been beaten up. Now, some of this could’ve been the result of the early decomposition of the body, or it could’ve been earlier injuries, bruises, what have you. But two or three people said that he had a broken finger and that there was blood on his shirt.”

Nothing seemed to point to suicide, but the police were insistent. Edna Gunderson says that an offhand remark made by Bobby’s mother led to the ruling:

“She did say that he had been upset in recent days. But she did not suggest that he had been depressed or despondent, as they had reported. And she was later very upset that they had concluded that he had committed suicide, because she believed that he was incapable of that.”

Was someone jealous of Bobby?

Those closest to Bobby admit that in the days leading up to his death, he was unhappy with Bob Keane and Del-Fi Records. Bob Keane responds:

“Buddy Holly was his God, and he wanted to play like Buddy Holly. And I was constantly saying, ‘No, don’t do that because you’re Bobby Fuller.  You have your own talent.” We were at odds sometimes, in actually making the music, the record.”

But if it wasn’t suicide, was it murder?  The answer may lie with a beautiful young woman known as Melody, someone Edna Gunderson says fuller kept a secret:

“Even Bobby’s closest friends and his mother didn’t really know much about her, except that he was occasionally seeing her. And it was very much a clandestine kind of affair.”

Some believe Bobby kept the affair secret because Melody’s boyfriend – who may have had ties to the mob – was still in the picture. Edna Gunderson:

“There was a very nefarious character in L.A. at the time who was operating a number of night clubs and he had a reputation for being a violent man. Melody was supposedly his girlfriend. Bobby did have a certain amount of affection for her and tried to see her occasionally. That’s all we know.”

Randy Fuller remembers that Bobby had planned to go to a party with Melody the night before he was found dead:

“Melody was gonna drive him there and introduce him to a lot of big time people. And he said that there’d probably be a lot of, you know, drinking and everything else going on. And I told him not to do anything that would get him in any trouble or anything.  And he promised me he wouldn’t.”

What happened at the party is unknown, but soon after Bobby’s death, there were rumors of a drug overdose and a possible cover-up. Bob Keane said he heard the stories:

“I heard that Melody had turned Bobby on to doing acid a couple of times. One of the possibilities is that he was at a party with other celebrities and something happened. An accident, possibly or a fight.  Of course, they didn’t want to be involved with it, these celebrities.  So somebody said, ‘Well look, let’s make it look like suicide.’”

However, there were no drugs in Bobby’s system. And no one could explain why he was doused with gasoline or how the car got back to his apartment. Randy Fuller:

“My mother went to her grave with a broken heart. And I hurt every day over this. Somebody out there knows something and I just wish I could know.”

Update:

After the initial broadcast of this story, Unsolved Mysteries received a call from the mysterious woman known as Melody. She confirmed many of the facts we presented in our story, but she disagreed with two important details.

First, she says she was never involved with anyone who had ties to the mob. And second, she insists that she was not with Bobby the night he died and that she has no knowledge of the alleged party. She also believes that Bobby did not commit suicide.

More recently, the cause of Bobby’s death was officially changed from suicide to accident.  His family would like to exhume his body, in hopes that new technology might be able to solve the mystery of his death.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season nine with Robert Stack and in season six with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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13 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Hey!, Just a minute. isn’t that Casey Kasem?, the original voice of Shaggy in Scooby Doo?

    Reply

  2. I was their

    I can not say much but I watch the episode today on TV. It shocked me too see it is still be investigated. Most of the people involved are dead and yes the cops were payed to cover it up. He was dead before the car was brought back to his moms. He was murder at the party that took place that night. The person whom did it has already talked with you but has lied about certain parts.

    Reply

    • Hello

      You were there? You mean at the party?

      Reply

      • Lynn

        Im gonna assume This person was not there. If they were, they wouldnt bother commenting on a section part. they would have gone to the police and had the case reopened. It’s sad people like that always seem to have information but only comment on a site but won’t go an actually submit the information.#keyboardcoward

        Reply

  3. Johnny

    I’m surprised the Bobby Fuller case has not been solved. Usually, somebody has loose lips and cracks over time because of guilt or poor health. So far, the secret has been locked in the vault for 50 years. Fuller had a close inner circle of family, friends and musicians. I would start there and work outside from that circle. Sure, 50 yrs later memories fade and some have died but it is worth another look.

    Reply

  4. jennifur sun

    I hope they find out as well. liked his guitar playing and his music. always felt sorry for his family. for some reason i think the police had an idea about who it might have been, and that is why they threw away the can and didn’t really dig into his death. i have read and heard thta back in that time period they were really corrupt. please keep us all posted. and yes the late Kasey K was the voice of Shaggy

    Reply

  5. Johnny

    Bobby Fuller was a musical talent and his death a tremendous loss to his family and to music. He would probably be in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and a legend now if he had not been killed. Let’s look at theories: Suicide unlikely since the car had to be driven. No depression or talks of suicide. Ready for stardom.Kidnapping? No way…No ransom note plus the offender drove the car back to the house. Makes no sense. Accidental Drug Overdose? No. Toxicology report no drugs in Fuller’s system. That leaves the murder scenario. It doesn’t look like a professional hit more likely an amateur. They panicked leaving the gas can and bringing body back to his place. The most likely scenario that a small party with a few actor and musician types were present. An argument ensued at the party and Fuller probably was trying to be the peacemaker. He could have been struck and fallen unconscious. There was probably a discussion what to do. My guess instead of taking Bobby to the hospital the 2 party people panicked and left him to die. They returned to set the car on fire but were interrupted and decided to do a quick staging of the scene. Then, they found Bobby’s keys and drove it to Bobby’s house and left in another car.

    Reply

  6. Wow. What a cutie.

    It sounds suspicious in the extreme. Forensics were so bad in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I am confident that the murderer wouldn’t have walked free if this had happened now rather than 1966. I wonder if any of the people charged with murder from this era are truly guilty given the incompetency of murder investigations prior to the past 20 years. He was beautiful. I suspect raging jealousy as a motive.

    Reply

  7. J D

    the police really blew it There was all kinds of potential evidence that they could have gathered had the ambition or interest in solving this mystery. Throwing away the gas can was monumental. They could still retrieve the car and check it out. That is a real long shot but you don’t know if you don’t try

    Reply

  8. Anonymous

    I agree. Exhume him (if the family agrees). No body commits suicide by pouring gasoline on themselves! You can die from inhaling fumes, but that does not fit the picture. And the car not being there until his body is in full rigor Mortis? That’s at least 12 hours after death. And you don’t drive a car with your head in the drivers seat. My heart goes out to the family, especially his poor mother.

    Reply

  9. Mark Renfroe

    I hope Bobby Fullers family will have his body exhumed. A tremendous number of cold cases sre solved today due to new advanced forensic technology. They have nothing to lose in doing so. Please keep your viewers updated on if and when an exhumation tskes place, and it is reopened as a murder case.

    Reply

  10. Maureen O'Brien

    I have followed this since 1966. I’m glad the suicide reason was dropped. I hope the family can exhume his body and find the real reason that he died. That is a great idea since we’ve come a long way since 1966. Please let us fans know what REALLY happened. Thank you.

    Reply

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ARTICLE 2. Online Surveys/Contests
2.1 From time to time, we may conduct online surveys and contests. These may ask you for contact information (like name or email address) and demographic information (like zip code or age).
2.2 We may use this contact information from our surveys and contests to provide you with information about our company and promotional material on behalf of some of our partners, and to contact you when necessary.

ARTICLE 3. Shopping/Commercial Services
3.1 This Website may offer shopping services, which may be offered by us or by a firm that operates a store under contract with us. If our Website offers shopping or other commercial services, you will use a customer order form to request information, products, and services. The order form will ask you to give us contact information (like name or email address), financial information (like account or credit card numbers), and demographic information (like zip code or age).

3.2 We will use the financial information that you provide to bill you for products and services. By giving our Website your credit card and related personal information, you are authorizing our store to give that information to the merchant and credit card company in order to confirm and fulfill your order.

3.3 We will use contact information from the order form to fulfill your orders. We may also use contact data to get in touch with you when necessary. We will not otherwise use or distribute your financial information without your prior approval.

ARTICLE 4. Public forums
4.1 This Website may make available chat rooms, blogs, forums, message boards, and news groups. Please remember that any information that you disclose in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information. Information disclosed by you or by others enters the public domain and may be freely used by any other persons or entities using the site.

ARTICLE 5. Information Sharing With Third Parties
5.1 From time to time we may enter into a special relationship with another company that is not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. to provide additional features at this Website. These special relationships may include “powered by” partners, business partners, sponsors, and co-branded sites (referred to here as “co-branded pages”). These might include, for example, pages that share our name and that of another entity. You should look for a specific privacy statement on any such co-branded page. Any personal information that you provide when signing up at one of those co-branded pages may be shared with our third party partner. You should also check our partner’s website for information regarding its privacy policies.

5.2 Also, the nature of some features of our Website may require that we share personal information about you with persons or companies outside of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. For example, this may occur at a feature that enables you, via our Website, to ask questions of persons or entities that are not part of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. By responding to those features of the site, whether by email or direct entry of information on our Website, you are consenting to our transferring that information to such persons or entities.

5.3 With respect to specific registration modules, like contests, we may disclose personal information collected, and we may post a conspicuous statement on the registration module to the effect that we will be disclosing the information collected with third parties.

5.4 Finally, we may share any of the information collected from you with these other non- Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc companies in an aggregate basis. The aggregated information is not linked to any information that can identify you.

ARTICLE 6. IP Address and Log Files
6.1 We may use your IP address to administer our Website, to help diagnose problems with our server, to analyze trends, to track users’ webpage movements, to help identify you and your shopping cart, and to gather broad demographic information for aggregate use.

ARTICLE 7. Cookies
7.1 This Website may use a standard technology called a “cookie” to collect information about how you use the Website. Cookies reside on your computer and help our Website to recognize your computer’s browser as a previous visitor. This information allows us to customize delivery of information. For example, our Website may use cookies to save and remember registration information or preferences that you may have set while browsing the Website, to keep track of your shopping cart, to ensure you don’t see the same ad content repeatedly, to deliver content specific to your interests, and to save your password so you do not have to re-enter it each time you visit our site. We use cookies only to gather information as indicated in this policy.

7.2 In addition, on occasion our site may also set a “session cookie” which helps us administer the Website. The session cookie expires when you close your browser and does not retain any information about you after it expires.

7.3 Finally, we may also use an ad network provider to help present advertisements on this and other Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. websites. This ad network provider, like other advertising service vendors, uses cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies on the hard drive of your computer to serve you advertisements tailored to interests you have shown by browsing on this and other sites you have visited, and to determine whether you have seen a particular advertisement before and to avoid sending you duplicate advertisements. In doing so, the provider collects non-personal data such as your browser type, your operating system, web pages visited, time of visits, content viewed, ads viewed, and other clickstream data. The use of cookies, web beacons, or similar technologies by these ad network providers is subject to their own privacy policies, not ours, and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. assumes no responsibility for the collection or use of such information.

ARTICLE 8. Banner Advertising
8.1 We have contracted with an ad-service to place banner advertising on our Website. All of the data provided and generated by the ad-server software remains in our possession. This feature of our Website may, on occasion, set “cookies” on your computer. Any information collected or stored by the ad-service or the cookies is treated in the same manner as other information described in this statement.

ARTICLE 9. Children’s Personal Information
9.1 Consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act:

9.1.1 This site does NOT collect, use, or disclose personal information (including online contact information) of children under the age of thirteen (13).

9.1.2 In the event that a child under the age of 13 attempts to register on our site, we will NOT accept the registration and will delete information received from the child.

9.1.3 In the event that a child posts personal information in a public forum such as a chat room, we will attempt to delete that information once we become aware of it.

ARTICLE 10. Security of Your Personal Information
10.1 Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for information collected through this Website. We believe that we have adequate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of the information we collect on our Website. We also use internal protections to limit access to users’ personal information to only those employees who need the information to perform a specific job.

ARTICLE 11. Sale or Merger
11.1 If this Website is sold to, or merges with, another company not owned by Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc., you should expect that some or all of the information collected from this Website may be transferred to the buyer/surviving company. If so, CMP will seek to obligate the acquiring company to use any personal information transferred by this Website in a manner consistent with this statement, but cannot guarantee that it will be able to impose that requirement or that the acquiring company will comply.

ARTICLE 12. Legal Process
12.1 You should be aware that Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. may be required to disclose your personal information to the government or third parties under certain circumstances, such as in court or regulatory proceedings.

ARTICLE 13.  Contacting the Website

13.1        If you have any questions about this Privacy Statement, the practices of this Website, or your dealings with this Website, please contact us at: unsolved@unsolved.com.

ARTICLE 14.  general information

14.1        Choice of Law:  This Agreement and the Additional Terms shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of California , as it is applied to agreements entered into and to be performed entirely within such state, without regard to conflict of law principles.

14.2        Choice of Forum:  You agree that any cause of action you or Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. brings to enforce this Agreement and/or the Additional Terms, or in connection with any matters related to this Website and/or the Privacy Statement, shall be submitted to arbitration in the County of Los Angeles, State of California, United States of America in accordance with the commercial rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association then in effect (as amended herein), provided that said arbitration shall be heard before a single arbitrator, who shall be a retired judge, selected pursuant to such rules and regulations, and shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in confidence. The arbitrator’s decision shall be controlled by the terms and conditions of this agreement and any other agreements I may enter into with you, and shall be final and binding, and shall provide for each party to bear its own costs of arbitration and attorneys’ fees.  Each party expressly waives any right to a jury.  Judgment upon the award of the arbitrator may be entered or enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction. 

14.4        If any provision of this Agreement, or the application thereof to any person or circumstances, is held invalid or for any reason unenforceable then such provision shall be deemed superseded by a valid, enforceable provision that matches, as closely as possible, the original provision, and the other provisions of this Agreement shall remain in full force and effect.  The failure of either party to insist upon strict performance of any provision of this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of any provision or right.  Unless expressly provided otherwise, this Agreement is the entire agreement between you and Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. with respect to the use of this Website and shall not be modified except in writing, signed by an authorized representative of Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc.

ARTICLE 15.  European Union and Other Foreign Nations

15.1        This Website is governed by and operated in accordance with the laws of United States of America and is intended for enjoyment of residents of the United States.  Cosgrove Meurer Productions, Inc. makes no representation that this Website is governed by or operated in accordance with the laws of other nations.  By using this Website and submitting any personal information, visitors from outside of the United States acknowledge this Website is subject to U.S. law, consent to the transfer of personal data to the U.S., and waive any claims that may arise under their own national laws.