More Than Just a Facebook Stalker

Question: What causes someone to be a stalker?

Michael Stone: Stalkers are an interesting group.  They’re not all cut from the same cloth.  They’re not as homogeneous a group as men who commit serial sexual homicide.  You know, there are women stalkers, there are men stalkers.  There are stalkers who are very lonely and very eager to affect some kind of attachment, oftentimes to a person that’s more famous or powerful than they are.  And so they will find out where the person lives and go around and follow them and look around their house and things.  And sometimes they may even commit a crime, you know, breaking and entering, or trying to hurt that person.  

There are other stalkers who will try to get back at a lover who has rejected them.  The case of Farley, Richard Farley out in California for example, who was... he fell in love with, if love is the right word, with a coworker in his firm that he worked for.  And when she rejected him, she rejected him after he said, “If you don’t love me, I’ll kill you.”  Well, that’s not the way to a woman’s heart, so he then would find out where she lived, he would put little messages on her car, it was pretty scary. And finally he, being a gun-nut, he brought a bunch of guns to the workplace and he killed seven people.  He tried to kill her also, but the bullet hit her shoulder and she survived.  So that was a combination of mass murder and stalking because he stalked her for a long time before he erupted in the murder.  

But there are other men particularly who are certifiably insane, or crazy.  Like, for example, the one that stalked the actress Olivia Newton John.  He was a paranoid schizophrenic who had ultimately killed members of his family, but he would go out to California and try... in order to form some sort of a relationship with this exalted and, for him, totally unreachable figure of this beautiful woman.  The same, by the way as happened with Richard Bartow in California who stalked Rebecca Shaffer, the actress went to her door after the Department of Motor Vehicles gave him the address and so on, and he shot her to death.  Why?  Because he thought that she loved him because she sent him a photograph of herself, you know, the way you send a request to an actress, “Please send me a picture,” and she sends probably a thousand pictures to her fans.  In his crazy mind, because he was schizophrenic, he thought that she really loved him.  And then when he saw her in a movie where she seemed to be acting the part of a woman who loved other guys and was undressing and kissing and so on, he thought she’s betrayed me and he then went and killed her.  So that was a stalker that actually killed the object of his affection.  

There are other ones that stalk tennis stars and follow them wherever they are and things of that sort.  But they're often people who are hungry for attachment, but then who know no bounds... there’s no brake system preventing them from bothering and pestering or even sometimes harming the object of their interest.

Recorded on July 27, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

We’re all guilty of a little Facebook stalking now and then, but the men Stone describes are driven to extreme lengths by their obsessions.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Videos
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less