The Conviction of the Stalker

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From the moment John was arrested, I felt like I was vindicated. Through the initial stalking, people did not believe me; the police, hospital, family and friends…treated me like I was the crazy one. Treated me like I asked for it, I may have caused it to happen and held me responsible for becoming a victim. No one asks for domestic violence, no one asks to be terrorized, it’s not a goal people aim for. The vindication was a relief.

He was arrested in June 2001. The prosecuting District Attorney was an amazing woman, the best I can describe her now is like the character Grace Hanadarko from Saving Grace.  She was straight forward, took no shit, had a tough yet beautiful appearance, yet very caring on the inside. I was in good hands. We had to wait for a couple of months for this case to be brought into court, which was scheduled for August 22, 2001.

Right after he was arrested is when my mom, Joan, started to become very ill.  I have written about that time and it was beyond stressful, therefore having this bullshit court hearing piled on top of her dying was a level of trauma I can’t really explain. If you haven’t read about Joan, please go back through my blog, you’ll get a good idea about her. To help explain those 2 months, click on Joan here and you can read about this shitty time with her.

I thought once John was arrested, we would just have to wait for the court hearing, and I was terrified. I had to come face to face with him, I had to tell my side of the story, be cross examined…it caused me high levels of anxiety. I ended up running away from home for a week and stayed at a dude ranch far from home, so I could be “unknown” and feel safe and have no contact with anyone. Upon my return I had a message from the D.A. to call her, she informed me that there had been a development while I was gone.  Apparently a woman (Vera) that used to work at the same hospital as us once before, called the D.A. and told her that I met with her. Vera told her I met her in a park on a specific day, we sat on a park bench and I admitted that I made the whole thing up and that it all was just a huge mistake. Grace gave me the details of the name of the park, the date and time and location of the bench. Grace then said, I know this isn’t true because you were at the dude ranch during this apparent meeting. I was at the dude ranch, 300 miles from my home, so the possibility of this happening was slim to none. Grace knew this and pressured Vera further about the subject. She then let her know what happens to people who interfere with a felony case and how much jail time she would be looking at.  Vera caved immediately and admitted that John put her up to it.

Wow.  This crazy fucker just doesn’t know when to stop. It did however, put a “nail in his conviction” and he was forced to plead guilty. He no longer had any leverage for a trial, hearing, nothing. He lost all credibility in that moment.  Huge relief once again. I still had to go to court for his guilty plea, in 2001 victims didn’t have a lot of protection at hearings, especially because a stalking conviction was so rare and misunderstood about what the victim had gone through. I didn’t really have much time to think about it though, Joan was on her way to dying and I was stretched so far and so thin.  Between the stalker and Joan, I was a mess.  I got fired from my job at the hospital because I couldn’t focus, which was a fucked up blessing in disguise. It allowed me to be home with my son, focus on mom, wait for the hearing and process everything happening.

Joan died August 18, 2001. I was in court August 22, 2001. I faced that slimy son of a bitch 4 days after the death of my mother and I was strong!  Joan was by my side in spirit and she gave me the strength.  I could hear her words “Men are shit sweetheart, fuck him and the horse he rode in on. You can do this.” So I did. I sat there and listened and I waited for the judge to sentence him, but the judge asked John if he had anything to say before he handed him his sentence. John said yes and looked directly at me “I’m sorry for what I have put you and your family through, those weren’t my intentions and I hope you can forgive me.” That motherfucker just couldn’t stop, he had to speak to me one last time, he just had to have “his moment”. Psychopathic piece of shit. My blood boiled. I raised one eyebrow and gave him the death look and responded with “Fuck you”.

The judge handed him his sentence, and this part really just kills me. Because John had no prior history of domestic violence or stalking, a completely clean record; he served no jail time.  He was guilty of a class 5 felony and now a felon, but no jail time. He was entered into a diversion program, something the county had started new, where John would go see a counselor through the court once per week at his cost for the next 3 years. There was a permanent restraining order against him for me, my son, family, work, and home. No restitution paid to me.

In that moment I thought “IT’S OVER!” It is finally over, I can now live freely and not be afraid, I can heal from this and the death of mom and get a new job.  Nothing could have been further from the truth. “It” wasn’t over, I wasn’t free, healing didn’t begin and life just got worse.

No, John didn’t go away, but I have to stop for now.

To be continued….

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Physical & Emotional

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“There are so many secret wounds, so many types of hidden scars. The soul, being stronger than we think, can survive all mutilations and the marks upon it make it perfect and complete.”

This is from the PBS series Call The Midwife Season 6 episode 6. I love this series because of all of the stories of true life. It’s not just in today’s society we see aweful injustices on women. It’s been happening for years, behind closed doors, victims kept silent.

The ending spoken narrative, stuck with me. Something to reflect on.

 

The Final Straw – The Stalkers Arrest

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It is hard to finally write about this series of events; just know my hands are shaking as I type and I had to meditate into a pretty deep calm before writing.  The above photo is the actual mug shot of John.  I’m trying to plow through this event no matter what; I’m determined to get this written out.

After the event at my sister’s house, about a week later, I was able to finally speak with my dad Clint.  Clint owned a motel at this time about 350 miles from me up in the mountains.  Clint was a busy man, so we could go for weeks without speaking.  I called dad to tell him about what had happened at Sis’s house with John.  He listened carefully and asked what he looked like.  After describing John, dad said “Honey I’ve met John”.  At that moment I still remember the feeling of my heart drop into my gut, it was the sickest feeling to date.  I asked him to explain further.  Apparently this fuck-stick drove 350 miles to meet my dad, went to dad’s motel and introduced himself as one of my friends from high school.  He showed up with a snowmobile on the back of his truck, said he was “passing” through and remembered my dad lived there and thought he would stop to say hello and meet my dad.

My dad, being one of the most friendly men I know, invited him in.  Showed him the house, pictures of me and my lifetime on his walls, toured the motel and then invited him to the bar for a drink.  Dad said that John asked questions about me, such as “What was she like as a little girl”, “What were her hobbies”, “How often does she come to visit”, “Is she coming to visit soon”.  Then proceeded to tell my dad what a nice girl I am, what fun I was in high school and how kind I was.  John received more information about me in that short 2 hour period then he had for the past year and a half.  As dad told me all of this, I cried and shook uncontrollably, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  A level of panic struck me that I can’t explain.

This was on a Sunday that I spoke with my dad, so the next morning after a night of restless sleep, I got up and went straight to the county court-house where I obtained the temporary restraining order.  I knew John worked in the basement of the court-house, but I was so scared and so pissed off, I didn’t care.  I went straight to the courtroom where I got the TRO to see the same judge.  I barreled into the court room and stood at the front seating area and stared at the judge with tears in my eyes just shaking.  The judge looked at me, cocked his head sideways and put his hand up to the attorney who was presenting and asked him to stop speaking.  The judge said “I remember you, you have a TRO on a man who works in our building correct?”  I replied “Yes sir, and I need help now!”  The judge ordered a temporary recess and asked the bailiff to escort me to the judges chambers, I sat down and he asked what was happening.  I told him everything that had transpired from the moment the TRO took place and how scared I was and how the local city police were just blowing me off.  He got on his phone and asked for a sheriff to come to his chambers.  Then called the local city police Chief and told him what had been happening.  After the sheriff arrived, the judge explained that the sheriff would be driving me to the police department and that I would be meeting with the chief of police and their lead detective.  That I needed to stop at my house on the way there and pick up any evidence, basically all of the letters, video’s and gifts.

I had no problem with that, I couldn’t believe it!  For the next 5 hours I spent telling the story in detail and provided the evidence.  The detective and Chief told me that I was dealing with the “Poster child” of stalkers.  That they would be charging him with a Class 5 felony of stalking and harassment.  That it typically was a Class 6, but because he used the Government Postal Service to harass me, it was considered a stronger felony.  They were going to head out to the court-house and have him arrested immediately.  Yet to understand that he’d most likely make bail and only stay one night in jail.  Then the detective advised me to buy a gun, that once again I was only protected by a piece of paper.  They advised me to have a safe person I could call every morning on my way to work of when I was leaving and then when I arrived.  To do the same when returning home.  That my safe person needed to know my whereabouts at all times and if I didn’t check in on the set schedule we agreed to, my safe person was to call the detective immediately.  They increased the police presence on my street in addition.  After receiving a great deal of apologies from the detective and the Chief for their officers failure to comprehend what was actually happening, I had a sense of relief, yet more fear.  Retaliation was eminent, and I had to be prepared.

Upon leaving the police department I went straight to a local gun shop and started my purchase of a hand gun that would be easy for me to use and carry.  Nickle plated snub nose .38 special to be exact.  I’m no stranger to guns, I was shooting them by the time I was six years old with my dad on the ranch.  His name in this story is Clint for a reason, and where I live we have the “Make my day” law.  I signed up for classes to get comfortable with my new shooter.

This was the starting point of a whole new level of fear, I chose Kojak to be my safe person and I now had to wait for the next steps.  That evening the detective called me at home and let me know they had John in custody and that he would be spending the night in jail until his arraignment the next morning.  That John was an arrogant ass during his interview process, John labeled the judge and said the judge was a complete asshole and emphatic that he had done nothing wrong to me. Then the JUDGE called me that night and was extremely kind and reassured me, he also told me to know that he did not believe in any coincidences, that if I happen to “run into” John at the store or gas station, that I needed to call the police immediately.  He said “This guy is on my radar, and I will make his life a living hell here at the court-house if I hear he violates the permanent restraining order that will be placed on him tomorrow at his arraignment”.  DAMN! Vindication!

I had a new level of fear AND I was pissed off even more.  Not at the police, but at John.  My old fear turned into anger and I actually prayed I would run into him “coincidentally” so I could shoot him in the face.  Fear and anger combined equals SURVIVAL!  As I write this 16 years later, I still have that same feeling.  I have a conceal carry permit and I swear IF I ran into John again, I will blow his face off.

That night knowing he was behind bars, I slept soundly and deeply.  But that was only for one night.

To be continued…..

The Stalker Part 3

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By this time in the story John was served his Temporary Restraining Order by the Sheriff’s office.  During a gullible state I hoped he would see the fear he had caused and choose to walk away from me and never contact me again.  However, the TRO fueled the psycho’s fire within and he became worse.

I lived across the street from my sister, and she had her own business which she ran out of her home.  I had spoken to many people at my work in the past about her and her business, helping her drum up business.  Little did I know John had also inquired about her by speaking with others we worked with before he left the hospital.  In psycho stalker fashion he called her under an assumed name and set up an appointment with her.  She had never seen a picture of him, this was way before social media, all she knew was he was a psycho stalker and he had worked with me.

He came to her house with an assumed name and spent about 20 minutes speaking with her about “business” stuff and then started asking all sorts of questions about me.  She felt it odd and strange that he kept circling back around to me and then her gut hit her hard about the unsettled feeling she realized she had with him; she asked him point-blank “You’re not Stan, you’re John aren’t you?”  He stumbled in his response for words and she immediately got up and yelled for her husband in a panic while leaving the room.  Within moments of her husband and her walking back into the room together, John was gone out of the house and walking through of the gate of their yard.  Her husband ran out there and yelled at him to never return as he was driving away.

My sister called me in a panic and told me everything, I couldn’t even speak nor respond to her.  I jumped in my car and went home and called the police.  They came over, took the report and said “Since you weren’t home at the time and the restraining order doesn’t include her, there’s nothing we can do.”

The mantra I kept hearing from them was “there’s nothing we can do”…

 

The Stalker Part 2

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As I promised when I felt safe to come back to this trauma I would share what I could.  It’s a “moment” that I recently worked through in EMDR and I can now share without a trigger.  I have to say that EMDR has come a long way and the process is much gentler and effective than it was 16 years ago.  Here’s my experience.

I was working at the hospital and John was no longer employed there.  He had left a note at my home prior to this moment that we could now be together because we no longer worked together.  I didn’t anticipate this next experience to happen.

There was a celebration at the hospital in the cafeteria with a new menu and roll out of food, so I decided to venture down and have lunch.  I felt safe because he wasn’t working there anymore.  Like most cafeteria’s you go through the buffet style lines and walk to the cashier to pay for your food before entering the dinning area.  When at the cashier line you can see the entire dinning area.  As I stood there in line, which as quite long, I gazed out over the dinning area.  Checking to see if there was a place to sit since there were so many people.  There was a column in my way so I couldn’t see every area.  As I reached the cashier closer I could peek around the column, and there he was.  Sitting perfectly to be able to see the line at the cashier.  I started trembling and shaking and we locked eyes.

My heart is pounding right now as I write this, but I know right now I am safe in my home with my dog and John isn’t here….so I’m pressing on.

When we locked eyes John got this sinister grin on his face, I’ll never forget it.  Creepy grin of ” You see me now and I see you…are you afraid yet”.  I was horrified.  He lifted his right hand and made it look like a gun, pointing his index finger at me with his thumb straight up….then POW!  He pretends to shoot me with his hand shaped gun.  I gasped, locked up and dropped my plate.  I ran out of there through the back area where you enter so I didn’t have to go past him to get out.

I walked/ran as fast as I could down that cold windowless basement hallway crying and saying out loud “Oh my God, oh my God”. My mind racing with thoughts of “He’s going to kill me. Why would he do that? He’s going to kill me.”  I entered a panic attack once I got to my office and sat down in a back closet so he couldn’t find me.  I called security from the phone in this closet that once served as an office.  They came right away and the lead security officer was a friend and he was very helpful.  He comforted me and called for the other guards to have John removed, there was no reason for him to be at the hospital.  My friend “Murray” listened to my story of what had transpired for months prior to this event and he became my biggest advocate.

Murray went to the executive office and spoke with the Chief Operating Officer, they got me an executive parking pass so I could park in a secure area where the executives parked.  They made note of everything and issued a letter to John telling him that he had no reason to ever be on the hospital grounds and if he returns that they would call the police.  They installed a panic button under my desk.  They reassured my safety and were fantastic at helping me.

Murray had a guard get my car from the parking garage and place it in the secure area.  Then he drove me to the County Court House where I resided to obtain a restraining order.  The order was a temporary restraining order, but I thought it was something that would protect me.  As I got the TRO I was reminded that John now worked in the cafeteria of THAT county court-house.  Can you believe it?  This fucktard worked where I was having to legally stop him from coming around me.  I couldn’t believe it.

A friend from high school was on the police force in the city I resided in, and after I told him what was happening he increased police presence on my street.

At this point I was secure at work for parking, panic button placed, security well aware of him; TRO in hand and local police increasing their rounds on my street.  I felt like I was getting somewhere.  I prayed for all of this to scare him enough to stay away from me and to just vanish.

A TRO is a piece of paper…A PIECE OF PAPER TO PROTECT MY LIFE! It was a good start legally for what was going to happen down the road, but pieces of paper don’t stop a bullet, a hand coming at you or any other physical assaults.  IT’S A PIECE OF PAPER…USELESS! So I called Kojak and he came over and helped me order and get a highly effective security system installed in my home.  Panic buttons in 3 rooms, every window and door was activated.  I could have obtained motion sensors in my house, but with my son, a little boy, who wanders in his sleep that wasn’t a good option.  It was a hefty financial burden, but money was needed for protection. Then Kojak and I called my attorney, who in turn wrote a letter to John for a “cease & desist” all contact per the TRO.

Kojak gave me pointers on leaving my home and traveling.  I no longer took the same routes to and from work and my son’s school.  Use different stores each time.  Carry my cars key-fob with my thumb on the panic alarm and keys pointing out between each finger as a weapon when walking to and from my car.  Taught me how to watch for someone following me as I drove.  Taught me to be vigilant of my surroundings.

You’d think with all of this I would be able to sleep, calm down and feel safe.  This is when I became “hyper-vigilant” and my world of sleep no longer existed.  I paced through my house 6-10 times per night checking on my son and windows and doors and security system activation.  This became my new normal and it has stuck with me for 16 years.

I won’t be doing EMDR again for another couple of weeks.  The process takes its toll on me and I have to keep processing the trauma’s slowly.  I’ve stayed away a bit from blogging because I’m so afraid of getting triggered.  I sometimes feel like blogging can be a task on my mind that causes me more anxiety.  I don’t want my readers to fall away as I know there are many who have appreciated these stories for their own healing.  I’m doing my best.  I’m plowing/pushing through as I can.

Right now the evil forces of negative energy has been attacking me recently, through my own experiences, my oldest son, my husband, my father and sister.  This evil doesn’t want me to heal, it wants to suppress me and keep me down.  It attacks my family which affects me.  God is bigger than these evil enemy forces and I trust in Him.  He has my back and I know I will come out of this a better version of myself, His strength is in me and I will be a testament to His love for us.

 

Photo credit: Jeff Garner

http://www.jeffgarnerimagery.com

Back To The Healing Board

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How much I wish I could go back to the drawing board and rewrite the stalker story. Didn’t expect the opening of this wound would be so re-traumatizing.  Really makes me want to crawl back into a hole and never face it again, but I’m a warrior at heart and that bastard will not win.

Anytime I’m faced with an obstacle I research it. I learn more about it and make it my mission to better understand it and how to work through it.  During the initial healing of the stalker I read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker  and The Psychology of Stalking Clinical and Forensic Perspectives by J. Reid Meloy. Both fantastic books for educating and arming yourself with helpful tools.

Now that it’s 17 years later and facing it yet again, I’m on the search for knowledge. I found a great article about being stalked and affects, yet it speaks of only initial treatment, not treatment nor effects some time later. I also can’t help but see that my story would have been more successful if I hadn’t had an emotionally abusive childhood, rape and physical abuse post stalking. I believe having been challenged with Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, it’s hindering my recovery process this time. My psychologist said based on my history I could be looking at 3 months to over a year of treatment on the stalker issue alone.

A year? Feels like a lifetime. It almost has been a lifetime of destruction and mental trauma. Going back to square one with this is daunting, frustrating and tiresome. Yet I’m finding the strength through God to face it and fight it.

I recently found this article and the more I researched this doctor the more I’m intrigued to learn more. I’m hoping to contact him and ask him how he feels about his article and knowledge based on pre-trauma experiences in the mix. Stalking victims get VERY LITTLE for help from local victim services, they only pay for counseling and treatment for up to a year. There was more money spent by the county trying to rehabilitate John then heal me. Seventeen years later…no help from VS.  No restitution paid to me for possible returning symptoms or flashbacks. Our court system is flawed in this area. Not enough of this to go around for the courts to notice? It’s ming boggling.

Check out this article.

“What stalking victims need to restore their mental and somatic health”

Give me some feedback if you can. Help me brainstorm. I’m not giving up and I’m determined to survive this once again.

The Stalker

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Seventeen years ago I worked in the administrative offices of a hospital managing all of their satellite medical offices. My office was on the main floor across from the sandwich deli, so I had a lot of people traffic that would walk by and see me at my desk. I could see the deli counter through their window when at my desk. I didn’t utilize the deli often, as a single mom I couldn’t afford to eat out ever. I was well-known by all of the hospital staff since my work was directly with many of the physicians and their support staff, and I’m a friendly person that used to be very talkative to anyone and everyone.

The main cafeteria was in the basement and it staffed the deli upstairs. Our cafeteria had moderately good food and they were promoting a new chef, often we would get lunch vouchers to try out the food and then were encouraged to recommend it to patients families or visitors.

The new chef started spending a lot of time in the deli, I only noticed because he’d always have a white chef coat and hat on, which was different from the other employees.  I have named him John for this blog, because of the notorious Jodie Foster stalker John Hinkley Jr. back in the 80’s.

John started making me food and bringing it over “to try it out and let me know what you think” line. No red flag, just thought it was a normal behavior.  Then John would come over and visit, asking questions to “get to know me”. No red flag, had a wedding ring on and seemed nice. One question was asking me my favorite dessert, which is Cremé Brule.  He showed up the following week serving me this dessert on a full silver platter, china and a rose. Hmmmm…red flag. I knew something was up, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I accepted this gift and ate it and of course had to call him to come back and get the dishes. That’s when he asked if he could take me to dinner

The answer was “No, your married and I don’t date people I work with.” I got the most dejected look and uncomfortable vibe from him that red flags popped up left and right. I always kept my office door open, as it helped with fresh air, allowed visitors to feel comfortable asking for directions and physicians liked the opened feeling of coming and going. That day I closed my door, bought a fan and kept it closed. This stopped the direct line of sight to me from the deli and became my barrier. The visits from John stopped and I avoided the cafeteria like the plague. Then I ended up hearing through the office grape-vine that John no longer worked at the hospital.  Thank God! I was free to open my door and not feel confined nor watched. It was truly a freeing moment and I couldn’t have been more relieved.

Two weeks later I left my office and headed for the parking garage to go home, it’s dark out and in the garage, get in my car and there’s a rose on my windshield with a note. “Just wanted to say hello and I miss you. ♥ J” Red flags popping up in my head:

  1. Why is he leaving me a note?
  2. How in the hell does he know what I drive?
  3. Did he walk the WHOLE garage looking for my car?

I was freaked out! If I was 16 I wouldn’t have been upset, I would have been flattered. As a grown woman and single mom…freaked out!  The next morning I went to our security office and filed a complaint and let them know what happened and prior to. They immediately got special permission to let me park in the physicians lot that no one could get into. Gave all of the other security personnel his picture and name and to have him removed from the premises.  Now I feel better and safer at work, and let it leave my mind. Deep breath and relief.

Month later I get home from work to find a bag on my doorstep. Sis lived across the street, so I figured it was from her. My son was 5 and he and I opened it and it was a large remote control race car. With a note “I’m sorry I upset you, please forgive me. ♥ J”.  Red flags:

  1. How in the fuck does he know where I live?
  2. How does he know I have a son?
  3. This is bazaar abnormal behavior and I need help.

Called a friend who is a Private Investigator for help. He did a full back ground check on this guy and then helped me find ways to prove it’s him coming to my house, started driving different routes to and from work every day, became extremely vigilant of my surroundings and if someone was following me.

This was just the beginning stages of his stalking. What’s to come became an extremely intense nightmare that has altered my life in the most negative way. I can only write this story in small amounts because HE is why I live in constant fear and anxiety and telling the story scares the shit out of me and what it’s going to bring up in my mind.