There are few things in life more terrifying than being stalked. Stalking encompasses a number of different behaviors that range from harassing victims over the phone or through e-mail, following or spying on them, showing up at their home or work unannounced, and simply not taking “no” for an answer.
The stalker knows just how to terrorize his or her victim, following them from place to place, invading their privacy and threatening them with physical harm – and sometimes, things take a turn for the worst.
For many victims of stalkers, they simply can't feel safe. They don't know when or where their stalker will show up, and they live in fear that when their stalker does turn up, they'll be carrying a knife, gun, or other weapon. And sadly, it can be hard to make it stop. While many places have laws designed to prevent stalking, they vary from state to state, country to country. Some states within the U.S. even require prosecutors to prove there's a reasonable fear of death or serious harm before anything can be done to stop the stalking – which can be difficult to do until such an event actually takes place.
And this isn't a problem that's isolated to celebrities, either. Normal people like you and me can become a victim of stalking. In fact, During a 12-month period, it's estimated that 14 out of every 1,000 persons over the age of 18 were a victim of stalking. In fact, chances are good that you know of someone who's dealt with the terrifying reality of having a stalker.
10 Theresa Saldana
Obsessed fans stalking their favorite celebrities is nothing new, and most of the time, it's resolved long before it takes a dangerous turn. But that's not always the case.
Theresa Saldana an 80s movie star, acting in movies like Raging Bull and Defiance – and it was these two roles, in particular, that nearly got the young actress killed. Arthur Jackson, 55, was a Scottish drifter who came all the way to the United States because of his obsession with the starlet.
First he hired a private investigator to get some information on her. Then he called Saldana's mother with the phone number he'd gotten from the PI, and pretended to be a member of the film industry who was interested in working with Saldana. After he'd gotten her address, Jackson waited outside of her residence, intending to kill. The second part of his grand plan entailed joining her in the afterlife – after he'd been executed for her murder. When Saldana exited her home, Jackson was waiting and stabbed her 10 times with a hunting knife. Thankfully, a deliveryman was nearby, and he rushed to her side, subduing Jackson and saving the actress' life.
But even with Jackson behind bars, Saldana feared for her life. He continued sending her threatening letters from prison, claiming to have friends who could still murder her. He promised her that he would, one day, complete his mission of killing her – and detailed the ways in which he wouldn't fail next time. Understandably, these letters terrified Saldana to the point that she suffered from insomnia, numb hands and feet, and even hospitalization.
9 Tatiana Tarasoff
Rejection hurts, there's no denying that. But sometimes, when the rejected party simply can't take no for an answer, things can get way out of hand. And when proper laws aren't in place to protect people, well, that's just a recipe for disaster.
In 1968, Tatiana Tarasoff met University of California- Berkeley student, Prosenjit Poddar and they became friends. They even shared a friendly kiss at a party one night – but Tarasoff made it known that she was not interested in a romantic relationship. Poddar wasn't happy about that, and he soon became obsessed with her. At some point, Tarasoff traveled to Brazil, and during that time, Poddar visited a psychologist and declared that he intended to kill Tarasoff.
The doctor believed that Poddar suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, and turned to the campus police for help. But after the police interviewed Poddar, they determined that he wasn't a threat and released him. After Tarasoff returned however, things took a devastating turn. She was never aware of any threats against her, but on October 27th, Poddar showed up at her house and shot her with a pellet gun, chased her out of her house and into the street where he stabbed her seventeen times with a kitchen knife, killing her.
The court originally convicted Poddar of second-degree murder, but the sentence was reduced to manslaughter, likely because he was found to suffer from mental illness. But then the California Supreme Court reversed the conviction and he was never retried. Instead, he returned to India and has been able to lead a normal life. While the story doesn't have the happiest of endings, laws were put in place because of this case which dictate that mental health professionals have a duty to forgo confidentiality laws to warn authorities of threats or potential violence.
8 Laurie Show
When we think of stalking, we typically think that the scenario has a female victim, and a male perpetrator. But that's not always the case.
Laurie Show was a typical 16-year old girl, excited to get her driver's license and to graduate high school one day. Sadly, these things would never happen for the girl, all because of another girl's savage jealousy.
Lisa Michelle Lambert and Show were friends, for a short time. But then she found out that for a short time, her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Lawrence Yunkin, had dated Show. While Show said that Yunkin actually sexually assaulted her, it made Lambert furious.
Lambert harassed the other girl, threatening her in person and over the phone. Show's mother tried to press charges against Lambert, but that went nowhere.
On December 21, 1991, Show's mother got a call from what she thought was Show's counselor, asking to speak to her about her daughter. But it turns out that it wasn't the counselor who called at all – it was a ruse to get her out of the house, leaving her daughter alone and unprotected. While she was gone, Lambert and a friend of hers, Tabitha Buck, broke into the house and slashed Show's throat. When her mother arrived home, her dying words were that Michelle was the one who killed her.
7 Mary Stauffer
It's not unusual for teen boys to have crushes on their teachers, and usually it's relatively harmless. But in the case of Ming Sen Shiue, his infatuation with his 9th grade teacher, Mary Stauffer, went above and beyond an innocent crush.
Shiue's crush didn't end after high school though. In fact, he stalked her for many years leading up to 1980 – 15 years after she'd been his teacher. Shiue kidnapped Stauffer and her 8-year old daughter, Beth, and held them for 7 weeks in his closet, where he sexually assaulted Stauffer repeatedly, often videotaping the attacks. In addition to the kidnapping, he also killed a 6-year old boy who caught sight of Stauffer in his trunk.
Stauffer eventually escaped by removing the hinge pins on the door while Shiue was at work. She called the police and then hid with her daughter until police arrived. But the trauma didn't end there for Stauffer. During his trial, as Stauffer testified against him, Shiue jumped up and slashed her face with a knife he'd smuggled inside the courtroom. He also promised her that when he was released from prison, he would kill both her and her daughter.
6 Johanna Justin-Jinich
Johanna Justin-Jinich met Stephen Morgan in the summer of 2007 at an NYU summer program. Little did she know at the time, but Morgan was a fervent anti-Semite who would later became obsessed with the Jewish Justin-Jinich.
She worked at a bookstore cafe, and Morgan often stalked her at work. Justin-Jinich e-mailed Morgan, threatening to call the police the next time she saw him at the cafe. Sadly, she'd never get the chance. Morgan came into her work, in disguise, and shot her seven times, killing her. At the site of the murder, investigators found a journal he'd left with notes about killing the young woman as well as anti-Semitic messages.
Morgan was found not guilty of murder and other charges by reason of insanity.
5 Christin Stock
No one believed that Jeffrey Calvert was a dangerous man. Friends of victim Christin Stock knew that she and partner Jeffrey were having issues, but they never could have imagined just how far he'd take things. The couple dated on-and-off for two years before Stock moved into Calvert's home in Bellingham, WA. And they had just recently split for good. Calvert tried everything to get Stock back, including sending lavish gifts and graphic videos of himself. None of it worked.
Unable to get Stock to reconcile with him, Calvert stayed in a hotel near where she was living, and apparently stalked his ex for weeks. Stock filed a petition for a protective order. Little did she know that Calvert had been convicted of stalking another woman years before.
But even if she had known, there's no way anyone could have prepared for what was about to happen. One day, Calvert kicked in the door to Stock's home. Stock called 9-1-1, but her frantic pleas were too garbled to make out. Her two daughters, aged 9 and 11 years old, ran upstairs and hid in a closet. The 9-year old would also call for help. But help didn't arrive soon enough for their mother. When police arrived at the scene, they heard two gunshots - one for Stock, the other for Calvert.
Both were dead in a murder-suicide. The children were unharmed.
4 Yvonne Flores
Keeping your distance from stalkers is hard enough, but when they're your neighbor, it becomes virtually impossible. Yvonne Flores and her husband claim that Anthony Medina followed them everywhere, including Wal-Mart where he'd walk down the same aisles as them, for two years. David, her husband, said he tried everything to protect his wife's privacy, including building a high fence to keep Medina from looking into their windows.
Yvonne told her husband that she was worried Medina would kill her, and they had him arrested on June 22, 2010. Unfortunately, there was nothing to hold him on, so the police let him go the very next day. Yvonne had just gotten home from the store and Medina was waiting for her in the driveway. He shot her twice and then turned the gun on himself.
Medina died at the scene, and Yvonne later died at the hospital.
3 Zina Daniel Haughton
Jealousy can do some ugly things to people. It's all the more tragic when the reason for that jealousy are unsubstantiated claims of infidelity. Zina Daniel Haughton had just recently been granted a four-year restraining order against her husband after he'd been arrested for slashing her tires. Prior to that, police has responded to numerous cases of domestic violence at the home they shared.
Her husband, Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, was convinced she was cheating on him and threatened to not just throw acid in her face, but burn her and her family with gas. He terrorized her every waking moment of her life.
On October 21, 2012, Haughton walked into a day spa outside Milwaukee and opened fire, killing his wife and two other women, wounding four others and then turning the gun on himself.
2 Rebecca Schaeffer
Rebecca Schaeffer was a young woman living her dream. After starting her career as a teen model, she moved on to acting in 1986, starring in the TV show, My Sister Sam. After the series was canceled in 1988, she went on to appear in several films, including the black comedy, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills. The movie was released only six weeks before her death at the young age of 21 years old.
Robert John Bardo was an obsessed fan who stalked her for three years. He wrote letters to her, and even visited the set of My Sister Sam hoping to meet her, but was turned away. He came back another day with a knife, but once again, he was turned away. He eventually returned home, and for a time, it seemed that he'd forgotten about the star. That is, until she starred in Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills where she appeared in bed with a male actor. Bardo turned on his former crush and was hellbent on punishing her for becoming “another Hollywood whore.” He took a page from the playbook of Arthur Richard Jackson – the man who'd stalked and attacked Theresa Saldana – and used a PI to track down Schaeffer's address.
He traveled to L.A once more, this time roaming her neighborhood asking people if she actually lived there. Once he'd decided that yes, that was her address, her approached her home and rang the doorbell. After a short conversation, Schaeffer asked him to leave and not return. An hour later, he came back, and when Schaeffer answered the door, Bardo shot her point blank in the chest, killing her.
1 Laura Black
Richard Farley was an electrical engineer for ESL, a defense contractor in Sunnyvale, California. Laura Black was a 22-year old woman recently hired to work for ESL, and according to Farley, it was love at first sight. Farley spent three years asking Black out, and every time, she turned him down. He told her that he'd keep asking her out until she went out with him or he died. He would stop by her house, send her letters, call her constantly, and even followed her around in his car. Eventually, his flirtations became too much, and Black went to human resources to file a complaint. Initially, Farley was required to attend counseling sessions and he was instructed to leave Black alone.
Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy, and he didn't leave her alone. The next time he was called into HR, he was fired for his obsessive behavior. Even though Farley got engaged to another woman, his obsession with Black continued. Black had filed a restraining order and there was to be a court hearing held on the order. Before the day arrived though, Farley showed up at ESL armed to the teeth and shot his way into the complex. He ended up killing seven people and injuring others, including the object of his affection whom he shot in the shoulder.