Celebrities may not always be like the rest of us, but they can suffer man-made catastrophes all the same. One of the more horrible man-made catastrophes is anti-social behavior, otherwise known as criminality.
Stalkers, which many people consider their scariest nightmare scenario possible, are attracted to celebrities for obvious reasons. Rather than just peep from the shadows or harass their favorite star or starlet online, many celebrity stalkers have become a sort of virus that attack the daily lives of their intended host.
Some celebrities have faced even worse crimes and criminals. Because of their dependency on drugs or other addictions, some celebrities have found themselves at the mercy of sociopathic pimps, gangsters, and sleazy pornographers. Even worse, jealous husbands and wives have brutally murdered their famous spouses while television cameras perched high above in helicopters filmed the whole ordeal. Some serial killers have also managed to slither their ways into celebrity obituaries.
All told, crimes involving celebrities garner more attention simply because people remain endlessly fascinated with the star, no matter how talented or untalented they are. Although they bleed too, the color of celebrity blood is often the color of money as tabloids, movie directors, and true crime authors have found ways to always cash-in on dead celebrities.
15. The Kidnapping Of Frank Sinatra, Jr.
For a time, Frank Sinatra, Sr. was the most famous musician in the world. Because of this, and because of his suspected ties to the American mafia, Sinatra’s family was frequently targeted by conmen.
On December 8, 1963, 19-year-old Frank Sinatra, Jr. was kidnapped near Lake Tahoe. At the time, Sinatra, Sr. was away filming Robin and The Seven Hoods. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of $240,000.
14. Sarah McLachlan: Stalking Victim
Way back in 1993, Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan released a chilling song entitled “Possession.” The song’s haunting lyrics and themes of obsession and displaced passion all stemmed from McLachlan’s real-life experience with two male fans who believed that they had an intimate relationship with McLachlan.
McLachlan’s most ardent admirer was a computer programer from Ottawa named Uwe Vandrei. Beginning in 1991, Vandrei began mailing creepy love letters to the singer. By 1994, the love letters numbered in the thousands.
In an odd move, Vandrei brought McLachlan to court, claiming that she had taken the lines from his letters without his permission. Specifically, Vandrei claimed that McLachlan had used his words in “Possession.”
In truth, the court case was all a sham designed so that Vandrei could be near McLachlan. On November 3, 1994, Vandrei’s body was discovered in the woods near the Ontario town of Manotick. He had committed suicide.
13. The Kidnapping of Benedict Cumberbatch
South African kidnappers almost deprived the world of the BBC television show Sherlock. Years before the hit television show aired, thus making a star out of English act Benedict Cumberbatch, the thespian found himself being ransomed by armed thugs.
In 2005, while filming a miniseries in South Africa, Cumberbatch and another friend where driving home on a highway that is notorious for carjackings and muggings. Sure enough, when one of the car’s tires blew out, six armed men showed up on the scene and demanded that the two foreigners put their hands behind their heads.
12. The Kidnapping Of Cindy Birdsong
History has mostly remembered Diana Ross as the leader of the Motown group The Supremes. However, the pop group was actually a trio.
Cindy Birdsong served along Ross in The Supremes after replacing Florence Ballard (who held ill-will towards Ross for years). On December 2, 1968, Birdsong was held at knifepoint by a kidnapper who invaded her Hollywood home.
Birdsong’s abductor was actually her neighbor, 26-year-old Charles L. Collier. At the initial scene, Collier forced Birdsong to tie up her boyfriend and another friend. Then, Collier forced Birdsong into his car and began driving on the Long Beach Highway.
11. The Murder of Nancy Spungen
In the late 1970s, Sid Vicious was the epitome of punk rock. The bass player for the highly influential British band The Sex Pistols, Vicious had moved to New York and quickly found himself deeply addicted to heroin — the city’s drug of choice.
At the same time, Vicious was dating a hanger-on named Nancy Spungen, a punk rock fan and a schizophrenic drug addict originally from Philadelphia.
Throughout their tumultuous relationship, Vicious (real name John Beverly) routinely beat Nancy. On October 12, 1978, Spungen’s body was found in the couple’s room at the Chelsea Hotel. She had been stabbed multiple times in the stomach.
The NYPD promptly arrested Vicious on suspicion of murder, but, three months later, the case was closed after Vicious died of a heroin overdose. Many people to this day contend that Spungen was actually killed by a drug dealer.
10. The Murder Of Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye’s voice was synonymous with American soul music of the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s, after a prolonged battled with depression and drug addiction, Gaye was attempting a comeback.
However, Gaye’s contentious relationship with his father put their comeback in jeopardy. Numerous theories abound why Gaye’s father, a preacher named Marvin Gaye, Sr., took a pistol and shot his son dead on April 1, 1984. Some claim that the strict Gaye, Sr. disapproved of his son’s cocaine addiction and his lothario lifestyle.
Others have argued that the senior Gaye shot his son while protecting his wife from one of Marvin Gaye, Jr.’s drug-addled rages. A more recent assertion is that the jealous father murdered his son because he suspected an incestuous relationship between the singer and his own mother.
9. David Letterman’s Obsessed Fan
For over a decade, David Letterman was the target of a deranged female fan who stalked him relentlessly. Margaret Mary Ray’s unhealthy obsession with the late night comedian led her to inundate Letterman with letters and harassing phone calls.
Even worse, Ray frequently showed up at Letterman’s Connecticut home and demanded to be let inside. Once, she even managed to break into the house and had to be escorted out by police. In 1988, Ray stole Letterman’s Porsche and drove it through Manhattan.
For her constant harassment, Ray was convicted of multiple crimes. The sad saga of Margaret Mary Ray ended in 1998, when the the 46-year-old woman committed suicide by kneeling in front of an oncoming train in Colorado.
8. The Murder of Tupac Shakur
The hip-hop tradition of “beef” and “diss tracks” between artists boiled over into real violence during the mid-1990s.
Following the ascension of gangsta rap in the late 1980s, hip-hop took on a harder edge when rappers themselves started discussing their criminal exploits and their affiliation with certain gangs. Tupac Shakur claimed that his entire gang was the West Coast, thus kicking off a feud between West Coast and East Coast rappers.
Prior to his murder in 1996, Shakur had quite the rap sheet. In 1992, he was arrested after a stray bullet killed a six-year-old boy. The bullet had been fired during an altercation involving Shakur. In October 1993, Shakur was charged with shooting two off-duty Atlanta police officers, but the charges were dropped. Then, in 1994, Shakur served jail time for assaulting Allen Hughes, the co-director of the film Menace II Society.
Shakur’s life of crime and music caught up with him on September 7, 1996. While driving along the Las Vegas Strip, Shakur was gunned down by an unknown assailant. Theories abound regarding the killer, with people claiming everything from a gang hit to a crooked LA cop.
7. The Murder of Notorious B.I.G.
Less than a year after Tupac Shakur’s murder, Notorious B.I.G., a New York rapper who was considered the leading light of the East Coast hip-hop scene, was gunned down by an unknown killer.
Biggie, who had earlier been on the receiving end of a diss track by Shakur wherein the rapper claimed that he had slept with Big’s wife, had seemingly moved against the wanton violence that was then associated with the hip-hop community.
However, on March 9, 1997, B.I.G. (real name Christopher Wallace) was murdered deep inside of enemy territory in Los Angeles. After leaving the Soul Train Music Awards, B.I.G.’s green GMC Suburban was riddled by 9mm bullets fired from a Chevrolet Impala.
6. The Murder Of Bob Crane
For millions of Americans, Bob Crane was the lovable rascal who played the leading role on the comedy television show Hogan’s Heroes. The good-natured character of Colonel Robert E. Hogan seemed like the good, clean, wholesome type. Behind the scenes, Crane’s life was quite different.
On June 29, 1978, Crane’s blood-soaked body was discovered in his Scottsdale, Arizona apartment. Inside of the apartment, police discovered a well-stocked library of pornography and other graphic material. As it turned out, Crane was a sex addict who frequently involved himself in kinky scenarios with random lovers. It was later determined that Crane kept sexual mementos in his dressing room for Hogan’s Heroes.
Although suspicion immediately fell on a video equipment salesmen named John Henry Carpenter, police could never find enough evidence to convict Carpenter. According to Crane’s son, in the weeks before the murder, his dad claimed that he wanted to end his friendship with Carpenter.
5. The Murder Of Rebecca Schaeffer
The killing of soap opera star Rebecca Schaeffer helped to change the course of American justice. Following the starlet’s death in 1989, the state of California and the rest of the United States put anti-stalking laws into place in order to give stalking victims more power to end their harassment before it turns deadly.
At the time of her death, Schaeffer was a 21-year-old actress on the verge of a major breakout in Hollywood. Unfortunately, one obsessed fan — Robert John Bardo — became convinced that Schaeffer had become just another Hollywood “whore” after she appeared in a bed with a man during a television scene.
After hiring a private investigator to keep tabs on Schaeffer’s movements, Bardo cornered the star at the entrance to her Los Angeles apartment building. Bardo shot Schaeffer twice, with the second bullet coming after Schaeffer reportedly asked her assassin: “Why?”
4. The Murder of Dimebag Darrell
Darrell Lance Abbott, better known as Dimebag Darrell, was the guitarist for the popular heavy metal band Pantera. Between 1990 and 2000, Pantera was one of the biggest bands in the world and routinely sold out stadiums all across the world. However, due to drug addiction and bad blood between lead singer Phil Anselmo and the rest of the band, Pantera officially disbanded in 2003.
Around that same time, Darrell formed a new act called Damageplan. Although nowhere near as big as Pantera, Damageplan earned quite the following. By 2004, they seemed poised to break into the mainstream.
On the night of December 8, 2004, a mentally unstable former U.S. Marine named Nathan Gale, 25, rushed the stage at the Alrosa Villa nightclub in Columbus, Ohio. Gale was convinced that Pantera and Damageplan had been stealing lyrics from him, plus he blamed Dimebag Darrell for Pantera’s breakup.
3. The Murder Of Phil Hartman
Comedian and beloved Saturday Night Live cast member Phil Hartman had his last moments on Earth streamed live on television.
On May 28, 1998, a sleeping Hartman was murdered in his bed by his wife Brynn. As he slept, Brynn entered their bedroom and shot Hartman with a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol. Brynn shot Hartman four times in total, with the killing shot being a point-blank attack that struck right above Hartman’s nose.
On the night prior to the murder, Phil and Brynn Hartman got into a heated argument at home following a night out. By this point, Brynn, who had a history of mental health issues, became intoxicated on alcohol and cocaine.
Following the murder, Brynn confessed her crime to two friends. Then, when the police were alerted and removed the couple’s children from the house, Brynn locked herself in an upstairs bathroom and committed suicide.
2. The Murder of Dorothy Stratten
Dorothy Stratten was a beautiful blonde Canadian girl and Playboy’s Miss August 1979. The popular centerfold soon began receiving calls from Hollywood producers, who wanted the attractive blonde to star in their romantic comedies and serious dramas.
Tragically, Stratten’s rise to fame made Paul Snider, Stratten’s husband and business partner, jealous. Back in 1977, Snider, a street pimp and sometime photographer, had discovered the 17-year-old Dorothy Hoogstraten at a Vancouver ice cream parlor. It was Snider who sent Stratten’s nude photographs to Playboy headquarters in Los Angeles.
By 1980, Stratten’s friends were telling her to get rid of the abusive and possessive Snider. She confided to her lover, film director Peter Bogdanovich, that she was afraid of Snider.
1. The Murder Of Sharon Tate
Few crimes are as infamous as the murder of Sharon Tate, a beautiful and rising star who was pregnant at the time of her death.
On the night of August 9, 1969, Tate was hosting a subdued party at her home in Los Angeles. The home, which was located at 10050 Ciello Drive, was attended by Tate, her former lover and friend Jay Sebring, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and her Polish lover Wojciech Frykowsi. Tate’s husband, Polish film director Roman Polanski, was out of the country at the time.
These four people, along with a teenager named Steven Parent, who arrived at the house in order to talk about record equipment with the house’s caretaker William Garretson, were murdered by members of the Manson family.
Inspired by the occult teachings of the hippie guru Charles Manson, an ex-con who believed that a race war between whites and blacks was imminent, Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, and Patricia Krenwinkel invaded the home armed with knives and a .22-caliber revolver.
The barbaric scene that greeted responding police officers include a stabbed and bound Tate with an “X” carved on her stomach, other bound and dead bodies, and the words “Pigs” and “Rise” written in blood all throughout the house.
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