Police think legendary rock producer Phil Spector murdered an actress in the foyer of his hilltop home just hours after meeting her at the House of Blues nightclub on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip where s

Police think legendary rock producer Phil Spector murdered an actress in the foyer of his hilltop home just hours after meeting her at the House of Blues nightclub on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip where she worked as a hostess, sources said yesterday (Feb. 4).

Spector, a reclusive eccentric with a fondness for guns, allegedly killed Lana Clarkson with a single shot after they returned to his 33-room mock castle in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra from the House of Blues early on Monday morning, sources close to the case said. The body of Clarkson, a tall blond who idolized Marilyn Monroe and starred in such films as "Amazon Women on the Moon" and "The Barbarian Queen," was found in a pool of blood in the marble foyer.

Police were called to the scene at about 5 a.m. after Spector's driver, who brought the couple there from the House of Blues in West Hollywood, heard gunshots inside. A spokeswoman for the House of Blues said the club was deeply saddened by the death and was cooperating with police. On Sunday night, when Spector met Clarkson there, the club hosted a concert headlined by Rob Halford, former lead singer of British heavy metal band Judas Priest.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said an autopsy was being conducted on the body of Clarkson, 40. That examination was expected to reveal whether she had been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, among other details. A source close to the case said Spector refused to talk to police about what happened and quickly called his longtime lawyer, Robert Shapiro, the man who helped successfully defend O.J. Simpson against murder charges.

Spector was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder but was free by Monday night after posting $1 million bail. Police and prosecutors obtained a search warrant for his mansion, a 10-bedroom, 8-bath chateau built in 1926 and known as the "Pyrenes Castle," and spent yesterday combing through it for evidence.

Sources close to the case said Spector, who could not return home until the premises were released by police, was staying with friends. His brand-new Mercedes, still bearing paper dealer plates, was towed away covered in the powder used by forensic technicians to remove fingerprints.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which was conducting the investigation, declined to comment on details of the case. Prosecutors said they did not expect to file charges against Spector until next week.

Marvin Mitchelson, a high-profile Los Angeles attorney who described Spector as his "best friend" of 13 years said the influential producer was a regular at the House of Blues, one of the city's best known music venues. "We used to go there all time and go to the VIP room," Mitchelson said. "Apparently that's where he met [Clarkson]."

Mitchelson said that despite Spector's hard-living reputation, the rock producer had mellowed in recent years and was working hard on both a prospective film of his life and an album by an up-and-coming British band, Starsailor.

"In the last week alone I've had three E-mails from him and it's all very funny stuff," Mitchelson said. "This is a sweet man and there's no way he could do this sort of crime. It's true he's a hard-driving guy but Phil wouldn't hurt a fly. I've never seen him disrespect a woman. He's just not someone who is going to attack anyone."

Spector's legendary work with the Beatles and numerous other groups was overshadowed during the 1970s by tales of his dark side -- a messy divorce from second wife Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes and gunshots in the studio. In 1979, while producing punk band the Ramones' "End of the Century," Spector allegedly pulled a gun on Dee Dee Ramone after the bass player had taken a swing at him.


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