When my daughter read the post about my run ins with the law, she emailed me – not to ask me what the hell I was thinking or to tell that I should be ashamed for being such a crappy role model to my children. Instead she picked up on one tiny sentence at the end of that post where I mentioned The Stalker. She hadn’t heard the story before and was eager to get all the juicy details. I started to respond to her email, but then my fingers got tired and I told her she would have to wait and read it here (because I need all the readers I can get).
I was living in Corpus Christi, Texas at the time – working the mid-day shift on the number one top-40 radio station in town. I was recently divorced from The Loser and I had just started dating Doc, but at that point, we weren’t serious (quite frankly, we didn’t even know if we liked each other at first). One thing you need to understand about radio and radio announcers is that, especially at a top-40 radio station, listener calls are constant. Everyone wants to request a song, tell you that you mispronounced something, or just have conversations with you because they imagine they are your friend. As cynical as it sounds, that is the job – to come across as friendly, personable, and entertaining – because that is what makes people listen to you and ensures success, both for you and the radio station. There were only a few listeners that I actually knew by name – but I acted just as friendly and interested to the people I didn’t know (and usually forgot about by the time I started up the next song). One of these people was The Stalker.
The Stalker probably started calling just to request a song and, when he found me to be pleasant and personable, he began to call more frequently. I don’t even remember The Stalker’s name, but when he would introduce himself, I’m sure I said something like, “Oh, hi (insert The Stalker’s name here)! How are you doing?” It’s what I said to everyone – but he didn’t know that – and apparently he felt I had a real, personal interest in him, partly because his mind wasn’t working right. One day, while I was still on the air, one of my coworkers brought in a huge vase of the most gorgeous roses I had ever seen! I still remember them vividly, because they made such a great impression – the buds were huge and they were just starting to bloom. Instead of the usual baby’s breath as a filler, these roses had stems of a beautiful purple flower that was a wonderful contrast to the deep, velvety red of the roses. The fragrance was potent and pleasing – and made you want to stick your head right inside the bouquet.
I looked for a card, but didn’t find one. I immediately thought that the roses were from Doc and I called him to thank him for such a thoughtful gift. He sounded confused and assured me that, while he wished they were from him, he had not sent me flowers that day. At that point, I was baffled – but I displayed the roses on my desk and went back to work. About an hour later, The Stalker called. After I greeted him in my usual friendly fashion, he asked if I had received the roses he had sent. Warning bells started to go off in my brain at that point, because I didn’t even KNOW this man and he didn’t know me, except for a voice on the radio. I thanked him, but told him the gift was much too extravagant and I really couldn’t accept something like that from him. He assured me that he understood, but that it was just a friendly gesture as I helped to keep him entertained at work and his day passed more quickly when I was on the air. We ended the call on a friendly note and, I thought, we had come to an understanding – apparently, he did not agree.
Early the next morning, about 1am, I was woken up by a call from the radio station. It was our overnight DJ, who was calling to inform me that he had been interrupted during his show by the flashing light that indicated someone was ringing the bell at the back door. He looked out the studio window and didn’t recognize the person who was there, so he used the intercom to ask what the man wanted. It was The Stalker. He informed the announcer that he was there to pick me up – that I had called him and asked him to rescue me from the sharks in the station. He was agitated and upset and began to pound on the door when the announcer declined to let him in. At that point, the DJ called the police, and then me. The police came and took The Stalker away. When I talked to them the next day, I was told that they had found an 8-inch knife in his boot – to “kill the sharks” that were threatening me. They told me that he had insisted I had called him for help. The police took The Stalker to the mental ward of the local hospital, but the officer warned me that they could only hold him for a few days and strongly suggested that I get a restraining order against the man before he got out. He even offered to go to court with me so that he could explain his concerns to the judge.
I went to court the next afternoon and the police officer and I explained the situation to the judge – this is the same judge who had scolded me for not appearing in his court as scheduled some months before. The police officer had done some additional research and had found that The Stalker had a record of doing this type of thing before – he had apparently terrorized some young female tourists at the beach during spring break a few years earlier.
The judge gave no indication he even remembered who I was, but perhaps he did, and perhaps that is why he decided to respond the way he did. The judge told me that he was not going to give me a restraining order. He rationalized that The Stalker had not committed any crime as of yet (he refused to acknowledge a trespassing complaint, stating that since the radio station’s back door opened directly onto the sidewalk and The Stalker had not come inside the building, there had been no trespass). He told me that I should be “flattered” by the attention from The Stalker and that he probably just wanted to meet me, as I was a local celebrity. He advised me to just meet The Stalker and to “be nice” to him.
As we left the courtroom, the police officer pulled me aside and quietly told me that if I followed the judge’s instructions, I might end up murdered by The Stalker. He explained that the judge had been elected to the bench and had no background in law enforcement, so he had no real concept of the dangers from a man like The Stalker. He also said this was not the first time this judge had opted not to act when a restraining order had been requested. The officer told me he had been a first responder when a woman who had been refused a restraining order by this judge had been killed by her estranged husband. The officer went on to say that if I met The Stalker, that would just let him know who to target, and that I could be followed home or accosted on my way to my car. However, he added, if The Stalker did not know who I was, then every woman at the radio station was in danger, as The Stalker might decide that any of them were me.
I left the courthouse and returned to the station where we had a staff meeting and I passed along what the police officer had said. Everyone was warned to stay alert and the women in particular were warned to make sure they had a male from the station escort them to and from the parking lot. Of course, all of the women were frightened and frustrated that nothing was being done.
Just a few days later, The Stalker was released from the psych ward. The next day, just as I was getting off the air, one of the staff came running to my office, telling me that The Stalker was in the lobby – disheveled and sweaty, because he had run nearly five miles from his work to the radio station. I immediately called the police and then stood around the corner from the lobby, where I could hear but not be seen. The Stalker was agitated, insisting to the receptionist and General Manager that I had talked to him over the air during my shift, asking him to come for me. He became more and more upset when they refused to produce me, insisting that I was being held hostage against my will. The police arrived about then and escorted The Stalker to the cruiser, letting us know that they would be booking him for trespassing this time.
I received a call from the police officer later that day, telling me that on the way to the station, The Stalker had become more and more delusional, asserting that he and I were going to be married. He went on to state that we “were going to watch the world be destroyed and rule together as the next Adam and Eve.” At that point, the police decided to go straight to the hospital and they once again checked The Stalker into the psych ward. It was quickly determined, based on his earlier stay and long history of not taking his meds, The Stalker needed to be committed to the state mental facility near Austin and he was transferred. The officer told me he would be there for at least a month or two, so everyone at the station could relax for the time being.
I guess the doctors at the state mental institution were good – or that The Stalker finally decided that life on his meds was better than life without. I never heard from him again after that. In fact, the nearest I came to that sort of thing again was the time I received beautifully drawn pictures and lovely poetry – from several inmates at the State Penitentiary…but that’s another story.