With stardom comes attention, both good and bad. Celebrities know this all too well. While they enjoy the praise and attention that they receive from legitimate fans, some celebrities must also endure the stress and danger posed to them by stalkers. Often times the public has the misconception that a stalker is nothing more than an over zealous fan. Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are some fans that can be exuberant in displaying their enthusiasm for their favorite star, rarely if ever do they cross the line of becoming a full blown threat. Stalkers on the other hand do become genuine dangers to the celebrity that they covet.
To understand why this is so, it is important to have some perspective on the mind of a celebrity stalker. The majority live in a deluded mental state, suffering from some degree of mental illness or other psychiatric disorder that renders them prone to that sort of activity. Most are loners that lack basic social skills. This anti-social behavior is also often coupled with a sense of self-importance. This combination of behavioral traits can lead to what is classified as stalking behavior. The individual stalker directs the majority of his or her emotions upon a person that they perceive to be important. Either they associate the celebrity’s grandness as part of their own, or they create a mental empathetic association with the public persona of the celebrity. This then leads to an obsessive compulsion to become an actual part of the life of the celebrity that they are stalking. Sadly, when they are rebutted, some stalkers can become a danger to the celebrity.
The following ten stalkers can be considered the most famous stalkers of all time. To achieve that level of infamy most of the following stalkers ended up realizing acts of violence upon the celebrity to whom they had latched their attention upon.
10. Dante Michael Soiu – Stalked Gwyneth Paltrow
The first stalker on this list is a man who has been declared legally insane and is currently hospitalized at a mental institution in California. He is none other than Dante Michael Soiu. He gained a lot of press coverage back in the year 2000 when it surfaced that he had been stalking Academy Award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
The details behind his stalking are truly creepy. The then middle aged Soiu would send multiple letters to Paltrow on a daily basis. These letters would contain messages expressing love and concern for the actress. The letters soon became packages, one of which contained a vibrator with the phrase ” because I love you” written on it in marker. Soiu even went as far as locating and visiting the home of Paltrow’s parents. Fortunately, he was caught before any harm came to the actress.
9. Thomas Brodnicki – Stalked Selena Gomez
One of the most recent stalking cases to make this list, Thomas Brodnicki gained mention in the press in 2011 when it came to light that he had been stalking the young actress and singer Selena Gomez. Brodricki claimed that he had conversations with God regarding Selena and her place in the universe. He implied that they were both destined to have a shared future. While charges were filed against Thomas by Selena in 2011, those charges were dismissed by the court. Brodricki did undergo psychiatric evaluations and has to abide by the restraining order that was placed against him by Selena.
8. David Ajemian – Stalked Conan O’Brien
One of the rarest, but most recalled stalkers is David Ajemian. His target was late night talk show host, Conan O’Brien. What makes this stalking case so unique is that Ajemian is a Roman Catholic Priest. This is why he also gained the nickname of the “Stalker Priest.” In 2006, the priest started sending several threatening letters to O’Brien. The staking incident culminated when Ajemian tried to gain access to the studio in which Conan taped his late night talk show in New York. He was arrested and pleaded to disorderly conduct.
Currently, Ajemian is still an ordained priest in the archdioceses of Boston. His services as a priest, however, are not currently being used by the Church as he has been since placed on leave.
A curious side note to this stalker is that he attended Harvard University simultaneous to O’Brien. Details have never been revealed if the two had actually known each other during their Harvard years.
7. Jack Jordan – Stalked Uma Thurman
In 2008 a clean cut looking fellow by the name of Jack Jordan was sentenced to probation for three years for staling actress Uma Thurman. Jordan’s stalking technique involved mailing several letters and drawings to Thurman. The letters and the drawings for the most part consisted of sexually charged content.
Following Jordan’s original probation sentence he was unable to stay clean. He violated the terms of his probation in 2010. The nature of this violation was for what state officials described as a failure to adhere to administrative compliance. In 2011 Jordan once again violated his probation. This time it was for refusing to take medication intended to preclude psychotic episodes. Fortunately, a reoccurrence of his stalking of Uma, or any other celebrity for that matter, has not been repeated by Jordan.
6. Dawnette Knight – Stalked Michael Douglas
Movie fans are familiar with the film “Fatal Attraction” and its star Michael Douglas. Well, in the time period between 2003 and 2004 Michael Douglas and his then wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, lived through a real life fatal attraction This came in the form of Dawnette Knight, an obsessed stalker of Douglas.
In a series of letters that grew in intensity, Knight attempted to relay her “love” for Douglas. She insinuated that she was her lover. She even expressed a desire to to chop Catherine Zeta-Jones into small chunks and feed her to hungry dogs so that she could finally live out her destiny with Douglas. Needless to say, she was reported to the authorities and charges for stalking were brought up against her in 2004. A few months later, she entered a plea of no contest to the charges against her. During the courtroom proceeding, Dawnette actually came face to face with Zeta-Jones. Knight was sentenced to a three year prison term by a California judge. Following her release in 2008, not much more was heard from Dawnette knight.
5. Margaret Mary Ray – Stalked David Letterman
In 1988 the name of Margaret Mary Ray first came to light. She was a woman that stalked late night talk show host David Letterman. She broke into his home and trespassed into his property on multiple occasions. David Letterman even stated in an interview with Barbara Walters in that he felt sorry for Ray. Letterman further added that on many occasions he even declined to press charge against her. Ray even became an indirect subject of some of the comedy material on Letterman’s show.
Ray, who was a diagnosed schizophrenic, eventually committed suicide in 1998. On October 5th of that year she placed herself in front of an oncoming train which struck and killed her. Upon receiving news of her suicide, Letterman expressed sympathy for the tragedy of Ray’s life and death.
4. Yolanda Saldivar – Stalked and murdered Selena
nearly two decades before Selena Gomez became a household name, there was another Selena that was making it big in the artistic world. This Selena was a rising Tex-Mex singer. Sadly, her rising career was cut short by an assassins bullet. Her killer was also her stalker, Yolanda Saldivar.
Saldivar had been the president of Selena’s fan club and was taken into personal and professional confidence by Selena. Saldivar was even given an executive position managing a line of clothing boutiques owned by Selena. When it was discovered that Saldivar was embezzling funds she was dismissed by Selena. This eventually led to an encounter in a Texas motel in which Saldivar shot and killed Selena.
Saldivar was found guilty of first-degree murder in 1995. Currently she is serving a life sentence for that crime in a Texas prison. She is, however, eligible for parole in 2025.
3. Robert John Bardo – Stalked and murdered Rebecca Schaeffer
In 1989 actress Rebecca Schaeffer was on the rise. She was riding her fame from her role in the TV show “My Sister Sam” and for her earlier popularity as a teen model to roles in major films. Her career and her life were tragically cut short when she had a fateful encounter with her stalker, Robert John Brado, in her apartment building in 1989. Bardo shot and killed Rebecca in the doorway of her apartment as she answered the door.
The build up to this fatal encounter started three years earlier, That is the time when Bardo first developed an obsession with Rebecca. Over that time he wrote her continuous fan mail and began to track were she lived and her daily habits. This came to a sad culmination the morning that he killed her.
Bardo was convicted on charges of first-degree murder for his killing of Rebecca. He was sentenced to life in prison. In 2011, while serving his sentence he was stabbed eleven times by another inmate, but survived.
2. John Hinckley Jr – Shot the President to impress Jodie Foster
The last two stalkers on this list are perhaps the most infamous of them all. John Hinckley Jr. was an obsessed fan and eventual stalker of the actress Jodi Foster. Brilliant enough to actually enroll in Yale University simply to be close to Foster, who was attending that university at the time, Hinckley is an example of how a high IQ does not prevent you from becoming a stalker. If anything, it shows how a smart stalker is even more dangerous.
In the case of Hinckley he developed the notion that the way to gain the attention of Foster was for him to kill a person of importance. He decided that he would assassinate President Reagan in order to “gain” Foster’s love. On March 30, 1981 Hinckley shot Reagan and two other individual in Washington DC. Fortunately, bot President Reagan and the other two people survived. Hinckley was arrested and brought to trail. During the trail he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Currently, Hinckley is interned at a Washington DC mental hospital. Earlier this year he had to be sedated when Jodi Foster gave a speech indicating that she was gay.
1. Mark David Chapman – Stalked and murdered John Lennon
In 1980, the murder of former Beatle, John Lennon, in front of his apartment building in New York City shocked the world. His murderer was his stalker, Mark David Chapman. The reason Chapman gave for killing Lennon was that he felt that Lennon was a hypocrite. At other times he alluded to the fact that he was destined for fame. Chapman had also considered killing other celebrities, such as Johnny Carson.
Chapman was found guilty for killing Lennon. He was sentenced to twenty years to life. Currently, he is still in prison having been denied parole a total of seven times.
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