Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ten years of stalking; Dec 24, 1997 to present...share your stalking story

To my fellow stalking victims,

I am sharing my 10+ year stalking saga in hopes that you will share yours. We know first hand how difficult dealing with this complex crime is, but I encourage you to share your story so that our legislators hear from the many stalking victims who live in NJ and continue to suffer from this traumatizing crime. Only by joining together can we effect a change. Remember Amelia Earhart's words "Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace. " With your help, when the Senate reconvenes on October 1, 2008, I hope this bill will be immediately posted for a vote in the first voting session scheduled for October 23, 2008.


Good morning.

I am the survivor of a terrifying stalking that has traversed state lines and ebbed and flowed for over a decade. I am a successful businesswoman in my forties, a former honor student and a Homecoming Queen. Unfortunately, research shows, it is this "All American Girl" image that made me a prime candidate to be a victim of a stalking.

My Story will illustrate the horrors of stalking as well as the inability of local law enforcement to effectively deal with this complex crime under the current law which is woefully inadequate. Due to time constraints, I will briefly touch on only some of the stalking incidents. I will demonstrate to you that these incidents alone establish a clear pattern of behavior or course of conduct – the criteria in Bill 1563 whereby the police would be able to launch an investigation into a stalking.

After I rebuffed this man’s attempts to engage me in a personal relationship, I began to receive numerous silent or hang up phone calls at my home. The stalker formally initiated his campaign of terror on Christmas Eve 1997, with a phone call to my home at 1:30AM. The caller was disguising his voice like the slasher in the movie Scream and was reciting dialogue from that movie. He told me repeatedly, “I know who you are and I know where you live and I am going to get you.”

On the first day of the following summer, the stalker left a message on my home answering machine. The stalker once again used dialogue from the movie “Scream”. “Do you like scary movies? I do. I’m watching you. I see you outside your house. I am watching” – he was laughing – a very sinister laugh.

At the end of the summer on Labor Day 1998, the stalker kicked in the side of my car, while it was parked at the nearby movie theater. (SHOW PICTURE)

On my birthday that November, the stalker found me with my then 6 ½ year old child and my friend and her children in Disney World. Immediately after returning to our hotel room from dinner on the evening of my birthday, the phone rang and it was once again the voice from the movie Scream only this time his sinister voice was singing Happy Birthday to me. I immediately hung up the phone. The phone rang again a few minutes later and it was the same voice once again sending me an ominous message. Our hotel room was not even listed under my name.

Two weeks later over Thanksgiving Weekend, the stalker slashed the bushes around the perimeter of my home – each night over this very rainy weekend more of the bushes disappeared. Although all of the bushes were damaged, the stalker slashed by 2/3 the bushes that blocked his view of my front door from his perch in the woods. I discovered his perch in the woods littered with discarded cigarette butts.(SHOW 2 PHOTOS)

A few months later on Valentine’s Day, the stalker sent me a handwritten note in the mail. Later that day, I ran one quick errand taking approx 45 minutes and returned home to find the flag pole near my porch dangling as it had been nearly snapped off – the pole had been twisted and then stabbed into the front door blocking my entry.

Although I have been told that the facts in my case speak for themselves, obtaining the help to resolve my situation through the local authorities initially proved to be an exasperating and humiliating experience. The first Detective assigned to my case in 1998 told me “At least if you were raped we would have more evidence to go on and to give me a call and I would give you a ride to the hospital.” This same Detective later questioned a childhood friend of mine as to my credibility and commented to her that as I wear leggings when I go running – I deserved to be stalked. He also asked my friend “What goes on in that little head of hers?”

My town was also negligent in not placing a block on the calls to my Disney World hotel room in a timely manner. Despite the intervention of Senator Torricelli, who enlisted the aid of a Detective in Florida, these calls were irretrievable. It was nearly 18 months into the stalking before the local authorities questioned the stalker and that only occurred because of the continued efforts by my US Senator and his staff.

Because of the continued problems I faced in getting help to resolve the stalking at the local level, I was connected to the Secret Service through my prior employer. At a Secret Service conference in Boston on threat assessment, a Secret Service Agent discussed my case with Dr. Robert Fein, the forensic psychologist on staff with the Secret Service. My stalking log was shared with the two other agents who manage the National Threat Assessment Center along with Dr. Fein. After discovering the disappearance of personal items of mine including my High School Yearbook, the agent drew similarities between my case and the Rebecca Schaeffer stalking and murder and warned me that my life and my child’s life were in danger.

To expedite the help I so desperately needed, I asked my family and friends to contact Senator Torricelli on my behalf. Unfortunately, the Monmouth County Prosecutors office became annoyed at the letter writing campaign as all correspondence to my Senator was forwarded to the Prosecutor’s office. One evening, I was interrogated for a period of over 2 and ½ hours by the Lt at the Prosecutor’s office. The first half-hour of the interrogation involved having me identify and provide addresses and phone numbers for my family and friends who sent letters to help me. The Lt’s final question to me that evening was “Have I ever pulled this shit before?” Only after I became hysterical, did the Lt tell me that he believed my story. I was told at this meeting that the handwritten note from the stalker that I received on Valentines Day was “accidentally” destroyed during fingerprint testing by the Prosecutor’s office.

A month after my interrogation and five months after the Prosecutors office began attempting to subpoena phone records for the approximately 100 harassing calls that I had received to date, did the county officials finally discover that a third party search warrant was required to successfully retrieve the subscriber information.

In the spring of 1999, with the investigation not progressing quickly enough my child and I temporarily moved in with my family and then in September of 1999 we moved into a new home. The case was moved from the Monmouth County Prosecutors office to the FBI because the stalking was inter-state and once the FBI launched their investigation, the stalking stopped. The FBI agent assigned to my case told me that often these cases are very hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Phone call information – the calls to my home and hotel room in Florida - that are needed to build the case are perishable. However, as he explained to me often the FBI questioning of the suspect is enough to bring the stalking to an end. When the stalker was questioned he alleged that I had “psychological problems”. As noted in the seminal book on this subject George Lardner Jr’s,“The Stalking of Kristin”, stalkers very often accuse their victim of psychological problems.

In September 2000, my story was used at a press conference at City Hall in Manhattan to help re-authorize the Federal Violence Against Women Act, which successfully passed.

The stalker remained quiet from the Fall 1999 until August of 2003. In August 2003, the stalker used my credit card and charged 3 items totaling $100.90 worth of merchandise and shipped it to a non existent address which was the yard across the street from the home I owned from 1992-1994. (SHOW MAP) The Prosecutors office told me the threshold for a subpoena to access the subscriber information for an unauthorized charge was $101. The stalker was able to manipulate the system and fly just under the radar. After this incident, I cancelled and reissued all of my credit cards. Two weeks later I received duplicate copies of the last three months of my American Express bill. When I called American Express to inquire about the statements, I was told that someone called Amex and ordered the copies to be sent to me by giving the new account number and my mother’s birth date.

Over Labor Day weekend 2003, my back screen door was slashed (Show the photo) – this bent nail (SHOW) was left in the bottom of the slashed screen. Soon I started receiving silent phone calls and shortly thereafter I started receiving calls from individuals with a Spanish accent and some actually speaking only Spanish. These individuals left messages on my answering machine and when I answered the phone they tried to engage me in a conversation. The calling became exacerbated the days leading up to my birthday, as I was receiving about 25 harassing calls a day. These calls were traced to the homes of Spanish speaking people in Freehold who “rent” their phone out to their friends and neighbors and people they don’t know for $5 or $10 a call. These calls were investigated; however, the people whose homes the calls were originating from barely spoke English and so many people used their pay for a call phone service that no clear link to the stalker was established. In addition to those calls, I was also receiving calls from Spanish speaking workers on the loading dock at the local Shop Rite. By this point I had moved twice and had at least 7 different unlisted phone numbers. Plus, I don’t even shop at Shop Rite.

With no apparent hope for a resolution in a court of law, I continued to ignore these harassing incidents until Jan 2006, when 48 hours after I got engaged, my cell phone, home phone and my fiance's cell phone began ringing off the hook from 11:30PM until 5AM. The caller would not say anything but I heard noise in the background. The next day, I met with the Lt and Detective at my local police department. The Detective told me he suspected the calls were from a QUOTE/UNQUOTE “ex” - someone close to me or my fiance. He advised me to check my online Verizon wireless account to see if someone attempted to hack into it. The Detective was absolutely correct in his hunch - My account was locked due to unsuccessful login attempts. (Show photo)

I began receiving text messages from numbers unknown to me that repeated word for word e-mails my fiance had sent to me. I received text messages from unknown e-mail addresses. When I tried to open the text, the phone would turn itself off. I went to a concert at Radio City Music Hall and 15 minutes after I left the concert, I began receiving silent calls on my cell phone while walking through Times Square.

The Detective explained to me that under the current law a death threat was required to launch an investigation and a violation of the current law was merely a misdemeanor or slap on the wrist. The Detective explained to me that we needed a new law that would allow for a course of conduct or pattern of behavior to launch an investigation. Congressman Rush Holt's office sent me to Assemblyman Mike Panter. By May of 2006, Assemblyman Panter and his staff were working with the Detective, Chief of Police and the National Center for Victims of Crime to craft a new stalking law for NJ.

In May of 2006, I changed all of my phone information and waited for the law to move forward.

On April Fools Day 2007, the calling from the Spanish speaking people residing in Freehold began again with calls to my home number at 2, 4 and 6AM. These calls have continued over the past 7 months. I receive them on nights and weekends that my child is with my ex husband or supposed to be with my ex husband. The caller’s names and number appear on my caller id. In order for the calls to be traceable, I must answer the phone. The third call from one of these individuals came around 10:30 Pm on August 21st. I answered the phone and said hello. The individual tried to engage me in conversation and when I remained silent – he told me that I had better talk to him right now because if I didn’t he was only 3 miles away from me and he would come over to my home and kill me. This call was traced to another home owned by a Spanish speaking individual who rents his phone out for $5 or $10 per call. This pattern of calling from Spanish speaking people in Freehold is exactly the same as pattern that emerged in 2003 but I have moved again and had changed my number at least 4 times since 2003.

The following week, the night after the News Transcript article on the new stalking law appeared in the paper, a screw was screwed into my tire. (Show photo) The AAA worker who unscrewed the screw from tire will testify in court that he had never seen anything so deliberately placed. The officer who took the police report had listened to the “Jersey Guys” on 101.5 discuss the News Transcript article on the new law on their show. He told me that when the new stalking law is passed there will be so much more they could do to help me.

As I have demonstrated, I do not have the freedom that most people have to live their life unimpeded. My life is interrupted by a vengeful stalker. The acts of stalking spill over into my family. All children worry about the safety of their parents but to my child that fear is and was much more tenable. My child was five ½ when the stalking began and now is a teenager. Without Bill 1563 becoming a law, there will never be an ending to this stalking but just another chapter with more twists and turns and shocks. My family needs and deserves justice. PLEASE fast track Bill 1563 and make it a law. I need that law in place to impose a threat to the stalker’s future – the threat of jail time - instead of the current stalking law which is merely a slap on the wrist and currently permits him to threaten me. We need this law that would allow the police to quickly launch an investigation and prosecute before victims are irreparably harmed and evidence is destroyed.

Thank you.

VAWA ( Violence Against Women Act ) & Senator Joseph Biden

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, every year over 1,000,000 women are victims of stalking by former husbands, boyfriends and sometimes mere acquaintances.
In 1994, Senator Joseph Biden sponsored VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act). The federal Violence Against Women Act has been key in providing shelter to victims of domestic abuse, educating law enforcement and seeing that perpetrators are prosecuted. Nearly 8 years ago, on September 6, 2000 my story of inter-state stalking was used to help secure the re-authorization of VAWA. posted my story on line "Hot News; Your Views" and New York City Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge read my testimony on the steps of City Hall in New York City at press conference. VAWA II passed successfully in October 2000.
Thanks to Senator Biden and VAWA II and III, local law enforcement are better able to deal with the crime of stalking.

Friday, August 22, 2008

NCVC National Center for Victims of Crime

The NCVC National Center for Victims of Crime was recommended to me by a Secret Service Agent. The NCVC has a Stalking Resource Center. They have been helping me since 2000 and helped author our soon to be new state anti-stalking legislation.

For Victim Assistance, please call 1-800-FYI-CALL, M-F 8:30 AM - 8:30 PM EST, or e-mail

"In His Sights" in The New York Times July 31, 2008

"In His Sights"
By Kate Brennan. Excerpted from In His Sights (Harper, 2008) What if the man you'd loved for years vows, when you leave him, to destroy you? What if he transforms into a ruthless tormentor, stealing your freedom, undermining your sanity, and threatening your safety?This is not a fictional scenario.

This is one woman's account of her decade long dealings with a stalker.

Press Release January 2008

Press Release
Panter, Greenstein Bill Enhancing Stalking Law Protections Clears AssemblyJanuary 7, 2008 - 4:21pm
Tags: Linda Greenstein, Mike Panter, Stalking,
Release Date: Jan 7 2008

(TRENTON) - The Assembly today passed legislation Assembly members Mike Panter and Linda R. Greenstein sponsored to strengthen the state's anti-stalking laws.
"With the advent of near instant communication, the opportunities for individuals to engage in stalking and harassment have increased exponentially, making victims more vulnerable than ever," said Panter (D-Monmouth). "Our laws need to be adjusted to reflect this new challenge so we may better protect innocent people from unwanted attention and advances."
The Panter/Greenstein measure (A-4354) - which passed by a vote of 80-0 - would expand the definitions and enhance the penalties found in the state's stalking statute. Specifically, a person would be guilty of third-degree stalking if he or she purposefully or knowingly engages in behavior that causes victims to fear for their safety or suffer severe emotional distress. Third-degree stalking carries penalties of up to $15,000 in fines and five years in jail.
Under the bill, a person who commits the following crimes would be subject to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of six months without parole:
Stalking in violation of an existing court order prohibiting that behavior;
Repeat instances of stalking the same victim;
Stalking while serving a term of imprisonment or on parole or probation; and
Stalking a victim who is a minor.
Additionally, the measure would broaden the legal definition of "course of conduct" with reference to stalking to include harassment by means other than personal contact and contact by phone.
"Stalking is a serious crime that can damage a person's life and leave lasting scars," said Greenstein (D-Middlesex). "We must do more to protect people from unwanted, unrelenting, and unnerving attention."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Where we are with the legislation......8/08

Assembly Bill A1563 has unanimously passed the House twice - once on the last day of the last legislative session January 7, 2008 and again on March 13, 2008. Senate Bill S1106 was unanimously passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 5, 2008. We are hopeful that when the legislature reconvenes in September 2008, S1106 will be expeditiously posted for a vote by the full Senate.

A1563 Amends stalking law to broaden protections for victims. 2nd Reading in the Senate

Identical Bill Number: S1106 Last Session Bill Number: A4354 S3051 Greenstein, Linda R. as Primary SponsorMunoz, Eric as Primary SponsorCryan, Joseph as Primary SponsorEvans, Elease as Primary SponsorOliver, Sheila Y. as Co-SponsorBiondi, Peter J. as Co-SponsorMcKeon, John F. as Co-SponsorGreen, Jerry as Co-SponsorThompson, Samuel D. as Co-SponsorVainieri Huttle, Valerie as Co-SponsorHandlin, Amy H. as Co-SponsorVas, Joseph as Co-SponsorGiblin, Thomas P. as Co-SponsorQuigley, Joan M. as Co-SponsorBarnes, Peter J., III as Co-SponsorLampitt, Pamela R. as Co-SponsorRumpf, Brian E. as Co-SponsorDiegnan, Patrick J., Jr. as Co-SponsorEgan, Joseph V. as Co-SponsorScalera, Frederick as Co-SponsorAlbano, Nelson T. as Co-SponsorJohnson, Gordon M. as Co-SponsorGreenwald, Louis D. as Co-SponsorCruz-Perez, Nilsa as Co-SponsorBramnick, Jon M. as Co-SponsorO'Scanlon, Declan J., Jr. as Co-SponsorChivukula, Upendra J. as Co-Sponsor

1/8/2008 Introduced, Referred to Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee2/25/2008 Reported out of Assembly Committee, 2nd Reading3/13/2008 Passed by the Assembly (78-0-0)3/17/2008 Received in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee6/5/2008 Reported from Senate Committee, 2nd ReadingIntroduced - 4 pages PDF Format HTML Format Statement - ALP 2/25/08 - 2 pages PDF Format HTML Format Technical Review Of Prefiled Bill - 3 pages PDF Format HTML Format Statement - SJU 6/5/08 - 2 pages PDF Format HTML Format
Committee Voting:ALP 2/25/2008 - r/favorably - Yes {5} No {0} Not Voting {0} Abstains {0} - Roll Call

S1106 Amends stalking law to broaden protections for victims. 2nd Reading in the Senate

Identical Bill Number: A1563 Last Session Bill Number: S3051 Buono, Barbara as Primary SponsorBeck, Jennifer as Primary SponsorTurner, Shirley K. as Co-SponsorMadden, Fred H., Jr. as Co-SponsorGirgenti, John A. as Co-SponsorWeinberg, Loretta as Co-SponsorBateman, Christopher as Co-SponsorKean, Thomas H., Jr. as Co-SponsorStack, Brian P. as Co-Sponsor

2/14/2008 Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee6/5/2008 Reported from Senate Committee, 2nd ReadingStatement - SJU 6/5/08 - 2 pages PDF Format HTML Format Introduced - 4 pages PDF Format HTML Format
Committee Voting:SJU 6/5/2008 - r/favorably - Yes {10} No {0} Not Voting {1} Abstains {0} - Roll Call