***I have NO idea what’s going on with the header image. None of them seem to be working. Sorry for the ugliness today!
Obsessive October is flying by, and today we’re talking about the superstars of the stalking world: celebrity stalkers. Being in the public makes celebrities ripe for obsessed fans, and the power of the Internet makes it that much easier for the savvy stalker.
The list of celebrities who have been stalked over the years is long: Madonna, Mila Kunis, Janet Jackson, Alec Baldwin, Halle Berry, Uma Thurman, Shawn Johnson, Britney Spears–the list goes on. There are a few, however, that stand out as the creepiest of all.
John Hinckley Jr.
Hinckley Jr. pulled double stalking duty, going after both Jodie Foster and Ronald Reagan. In 1980, when Jodie Foster enrolled at Yale University, John Hinckley followed. He left love notes and poems, including a poem that detailed his plans to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.
Over the past seven months I’ve left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me. Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself. [...] the reason I’m going ahead with this attempt now is because I cannot wait any longer to impress you. –John Hinckley, JR.
On the same day he left Jodie the cryptic note, Hinckley went to Washington, D.C. and shot President Reagan, who survived. His press secretary, James Brady, was paralyzed by the bullet that struck him.
Hinckley was charged with 13 accounts of attempted murder but found not guilty by reason of insanity–a rare feat despite what popular television shows depict. He was diagnosed with narcissistic and schizoid personality disorders, dysthymia and borderline passive-aggressive features. He remains hospitalized.
Anthony Gary Silvestri
Anthony Gary Silvestri spent months stalking television reporter Kathryn Dettman in Waco, Texas. In January 1998, he broke into Dettman’s home and attacked her with a knife, stabbing her more than a dozen times.
Dettman had been living her last days in the small Texas town and was preparing to move to a much larger station in Dallas.
“It was an extremely violent attack. She had 15-16 stab wounds.” –Temple Police Sgt. Keith Reed.
Dettman’s friends admitted she knew the 21-year-old had been stalking her. She’d said he was sweet and flattering, and he’d been spotted outside her apartment more than once. Kathryn didn’t consider him a threat.
“Most station managers don’t even give the news anchors all their mail or their email,” says Dietz. “Very few stations have adequate screening of who gets on the premises or do the things for their talent that can help protect them.”
–Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz
Anthony Silvestri received 40 years in prison.
Robert John Bardo
Robert John Bardo cut his stalking teeth on child peace activist Samantha Smith. When she died in a plane crash in 1985, Bardo found Rebecca Schaeffer.
In the late 80s, Rebecca Schaeffer was on her way to making it big in Hollywood, staring in My Sister Sam and several movies. With virtually no stalking laws in place at the time, Bardo got Shaeffer’s home address from a detective agency, who’d obtained the information from the California DMV. He tracked her down at home and confronted her for the sex scene in Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, accusing her of losing her innocence. He told her he was a big fan, and she asked him to leave. Shortly after, he returned and shot her. Rebecca died on the scene.
As a result of the shady way Bardo found Rebecca’s address and her ultimate murder, the US government passed the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act which prohibits state Departments of Motor Vehicles from releasing the home addresses of state residents.
Robert John Bardo is surviving a life sentence at the Ironwood State Prison in California.
Mark David Chapman
We can’t talk about celebrity stalkers without mentioning Mark David Chapman. I was three years old when John Lennon was murdered. My parents weren’t big Beatles or Lennon fans, but they were still shocked by his death.
On December 8th, 1980, Mark David Chapman traveled to New York City intending to kill John Lennon. After receiving an autograph earlier in the day from the musician and shaking his son Julian’s hand, Chapman shot John Lennon in the back as he was walking into his apartment.
In high school, I couldn’t read A Catcher In The Rye without remembering the story of Chapman remaining on the scene reading passages from the book.
Chapman was sentenced to life and has been denied parole seven times. In August, he told the parole board that as a Christian, he was embarrassed for killing John Lennon.
“So this is obviously very embarrassing for me now, having committed murder.” –Mark David Chapman
He claims he considered going after Johnny Carson or actor George C. Scott, but ultimately chose Lennon because he was “very famous.”
“He was very kind to me. He was a very cordial and very decent man.” –Mark David Chapman
Still, Chapman claims he was so compelled to kill that nothing would have stopped him.
What do you think?
Being a celebrity means a certain lack of privacy–fans discussing your every move over the Internet, paparazzi cameras in your face when you’re out for a burger–but it shouldn’t be a dangerous job. Why do you think so many celebrities are stalked? Is it the fantasy of the perfect mate a stalker creates? Do you think the stalking laws are strict enough?