What happens during a divorce when abuse is present? How do you safeguard yourself and those you love during those tough times? Divorce can be an incredibly difficult experience, and it gets even more complicated when abuse is involved. With the help of Susan and Tracy in this episode, you’ll learn how to safeguard yourself or your loved ones during these tough times. Knowing the signs of various forms of abuse could prove vital for protecting both yourself and those around you from further harm.
Stalking Laws in Nebraska
What are the stalking laws in Nebraska? Stalking laws can very state to state and, even with stalking laws in place, you may be surprised to learn just how little they can actually be enforced. Stalking is not something to dismiss or belittle as it can lead to some tragic scenarios.
Learn about the stalking laws Nebraska has in place to protect us, what you need to know about stalking in the first place, and how we can use existing laws to keep ourselves safe.
Susan Reff: On today’s podcast, we’re going to be talking about stalking laws in Nebraska, and January is Stalking Awareness Month, so it’s a perfect time to learn a little bit more about stalking. We’ll talk about some statistics, some famous cases, some different things. And today, Erin Wetzel are one of our associate attorneys. Is here with me. Hi, Susan. Hi, Erin. And this is our first podcast recording in Twenty Twenty Two. We’ve kind of been on a podcast recording break.
Erin Wetzel: So hello. Twenty twenty two. I hope it’s better, right?
Susan Reff: I’ve already been guilty of dating something twenty twenty one.
Erin Wetzel: I haven’t been terrible at that. It’s probably because I’m so excited to be done with twenty twenty one.
Susan Reff: Yeah, I still even was doing twenty twenty at the end of twenty twenty one, so I probably. And today I did wake up and say, What day is it? I’m still in that mode, too.
Erin Wetzel: It’s not as bad as last week. I feel like that time between Christmas and New Year’s, it’s so hard to keep track of what day it is.
Susan Reff: I think the week between Christmas and New Year’s should just be like declared a no work week. I agree, like nothing serious should happen during that time. Like no major decisions. Nothing crazy should just be like extra family time or getting ready for the new year.
Erin Wetzel: Can we tell the Supreme Court to close all the courthouses in the state for the week?
Susan Reff: Yeah, let’s do that. They didn’t even close them for the pandemic, so I doubt they’ll do that. So are you a person that makes New Year’s resolutions?
Erin Wetzel: I used to be for several years, but this year I haven’t. No, and I was really good at it. I had a few years in a row before I had kids where I would make a New Year’s resolution and I would do it for the whole year. I had like three or four years in a row where I did that.
Susan Reff: Is that the one where you like were like no sugar or whatever it was?
Erin Wetzel: Yeah, like no sugar, no pop. I’d give a drinks from a coffee shop. Fast food I did one year made it the whole year. Wow. Yeah. I think I started it in like twenty thirteen twenty fourteen, and I did it for about four years and then I got pregnant and had kids.
Susan Reff: So yours were more like New Year’s restrictions instead of New Year’s resolutions.
Erin Wetzel: Yeah, I don’t know. I was. I was really good at it. It was kind of like a competition with myself. Yeah, you know, I’m very competitive.
Susan Reff: Yeah, well, and I think I remember you doing some tracking like you were doing tracking like on your phone of one of your resolutions, like writing down everything you ate or something like that.
Erin Wetzel: That was a good one. I do that for a while sometimes, and then I kind of fall off of it and I really should do it because it’s helpful.
Susan Reff: But I made a really funny New Year’s resolution one year, but it was really awesome. You want to hear what it was? Sure, it was when I’m in a public bathroom to check to see the stall had toilet paper before I like closed the door. Literally, I had to tell myself this and it worked. Did you
Erin Wetzel: Did you have a problem with that on multiple
Susan Reff: Occasions? Well, OK. So every office I’ve ever worked in has had a public bathroom versus like a private one inside the office. So it, you know, I was using public restrooms during my workday all the time and I would. So especially when I was at the courthouse, when my office was in the in the courthouse, there was no private bathroom. So you’re using a bathroom that, like anyone in the courthouse is using and they were consistently out of toilet paper.
Erin Wetzel: There’s no private bathrooms within the public defender’s office.
Susan Reff: They when they expanded after I left, they have one bathroom. It’s not like a where you go in and there’s multiple stalls or anything, it’s one bathroom.
Erin Wetzel: The bathrooms at the courthouse are also old. Yes, it’s like you go. You never know which because you can’t keep track of which stall on each floor because they all look the same. You’ll go in and I swear every single floor has one stall that has the door missing. Oh yeah. And then most of them don’t have the hooks in there. Yeah, half of them. The door doesn’t close rates. You can’t like lock it all the way.
Susan Reff: Some of them, the door is like the same height as the toilet. So like, your knees are showing if you’re sitting, yeah, there’s so old. And then the hand towel thing doesn’t work.
Erin Wetzel: The hand towel thing doesn’t work. There’s a couple where like. One of the two sinks doesn’t work.
Susan Reff: There’s no soap. Yeah, it’s it’s horrible.
Erin Wetzel: It is. They need to renovate all of that.
Susan Reff: So maybe another New Year’s resolution could be make sure you know where all the good bathrooms are. Yes, in the courthouse, I’ll peek
Erin Wetzel: Through the the little open between because when the door is open, you can’t see if there’s a hook, right? Right. So I’ll kind of peek through the little opening to see if there’s a hook in that stall before I go in because I hate having to put my work bag on the floor. Yeah, it’s just gross.
Susan Reff: I do tend to go in judges offices and use their jury bathrooms. Yeah, I do that too. Yeah. And some of them are almost like public because they’re pretty close to the front door of the judge’s office and they don’t really care if you use those. I don’t think so. I have not made any New Year’s resolutions this year. I am starting a new gym, but that’s not like new for me. I’m just switching from one gym to another gym, so we’ll see if it’s super crowded like the January New Year’s resolution people thing.
Erin Wetzel: I don’t know. Maybe it won’t be as crowded because of COVID and people not whining and go out with that. I don’t know.
Susan Reff: Yeah, I heard the no numbers yesterday were the highest record number of positive tests in the whole state. Yesterday it was like it was like 1100 people in one day. I feel
Erin Wetzel: Like this is five years of going on this instead of
Susan Reff: Two, it is in five years. It feels like I know I just opened a new pack of masks to like the surgical ones because they’re saying, don’t wear the cloth masks.
Erin Wetzel: They change the rules all the time. I know so hard to keep track, it’s impossible.
Susan Reff: So speaking of rules, there are stalking laws, right? Right.
Erin Wetzel: And they’re in all 50 states D.C., U.S. territories, federal government, whereas it, you know, back in the nineties or whatever, this was kind of a topic that people didn’t really understand and victims really had to fight to get those laws on the books in different states.
Susan Reff: And I think that comes with like the wave of recognizing that domestic violence in general, like as an overview is is its own kind of separate crime. You know, even though domestic violence isn’t actually a crime, like it’s not like I’m convicted of domestic violence, like you’re convicted of assault or stalking or a protection order violation, but it has. That umbrella of it happened because these people were in a relationship at one time together or currently in a relationship, and that was like not really thought of as bad or it was less reported or whatever it was that people weren’t really paying attention as far as crimes and law enforcement, right?
Erin Wetzel: And stalking, really, most of the time goes hand in hand with domestic violence. A majority of female, specifically victims of domestic violence, have been stalked by their abuser. Yeah, I think this little fact sheet that I have in front of me says seventy six percent of victims have been stalked. So the majority of stalking victims are people who have been stalked, stalked by former or current partners. Yeah. And then there’s another large chunk that is stalked by somebody that, you know? But there is a small number two that gets stalked by people that they’ve never met or that they don’t know.
Susan Reff: So let’s let’s talk about what stalking like. How has Nebraska defined stalking like? There’s a definition of what is stalking in Nebraska. What’s the crime
Erin Wetzel: Rate? So any time I’m telling people about definitions of laws here? You keep in mind that there’s the one definition and then you have to go into the further definitions of the words within the first definition, right? And that’s exactly how the statutes are with stalking. Yeah. So we have the first statute that defines with stalking is and it’s any person who willfully harasses another person or a family or household member of such person with the intent to injure, terrify, threaten or intimidate commits the offence of stalking. And then we have another statute that defines some of those words within the stalking definition. A little more specifically, yeah.
Susan Reff: I think the important part here to remember, too, is that there’s an intention to scare the person, threaten them, intimidate them. You don’t actually have to harm them, but there’s an intention to to scare them.
Erin Wetzel: Right. And I think that’s a problem sometimes with stalking victims is when they report things. I sometimes if they’re reporting it to a person. Who doesn’t really understand what the laws are? They tell them, well, we can’t help you because they haven’t done anything to you, they haven’t hurt you, right? And that’s not true.
Susan Reff: And you know, in prepping for this, some of the behaviors that we’re learning about for stalking, some of them don’t really look that bad, you know, like sending someone flowers, sending them text messages, sending them letters. Yeah, I mean, that might not technically harm the person. But if there’s a history between the people of unwanted communication, you know, and then that then that person continues to text the victim or send them things that can be a form of stalking and unwanted communication. Right.
Erin Wetzel: And when we’re talking about harassing the definition of that is specifically a willful course of conduct which terrifies the person. So it’s not about what some other person thinks of this text. Yes, because you might see one text that this person receives and not think it’s a big deal. But when you look at it within the course of conduct, all of these other texts and sending flowers and putting something on their car out in the parking lot, showing up outside of their work, you know, you have to take all of that into account and realize that it’s what that individual person is experiencing, what not what another person thinks of one or two things that have happened, right?
Susan Reff: It’s very victim specific. Yes. And we were talking to that. You know, Erin and I are the attorneys at the firm that do criminal defense. And we have we were thinking, have we ever defended someone on a stalking charge? And I don’t think either one of us has.
Erin Wetzel: I think I’ve heard of a person who was charged with it once I’ve talked with a person, but I haven’t defended anybody. Yeah. We were saying, you know, it’s more common to see somebody charged with violation of a protection order or trespassing, a disturbing the peace, something like that. Because I think a lot of times
Susan Reff: The actual act of right what they did, that is the course of conduct,
Erin Wetzel: Right? And if if the person who is being stalked knows of the resources out there, hopefully their person who has gotten a protection order? Yes. And that’s a lower burden to get a protection order than prove a criminal charge, right? Right. So if that person then continues that behavior after the person the victim gets the protection order, it’s a lot easier for cops to charge the violation of the protection order than a stalking charge.
Susan Reff: Yeah, yeah. I mean, all of these things that you’re doing like if you’re trespassing, you know, you’re going by the house, you’re going in the, you know, onto the property, looking in windows, leaving things, you know, inside the house. I mean, some stalkers can go inside people’s residence or workplaces without permission, and that’s trespassing and that’s part of stalking. But. The trespass is easier to prove, right, so right.
Erin Wetzel: I actually listen to a podcast earlier this week about this woman who was murdered. I want to say it was early two thousands and she had been stalked by the child of a former romantic partner. Oh, wow. When she was with this romantic partner, this child had kind of become obsessed with her and was trying to emulate things that she was doing and was taking personal belongings from her. She eventually cut off their relationship, and this child eventually became an adult and continued following her around. And this all started in the nineties. Back when you know, we had that problem of people not really recognizing what stalking was, and I don’t know if she even necessarily recognized it since it was this child of a former partner. And in, you know, early 2000, she eventually goes missing and her daughter tells the police she had been stalked by this person, who’s now an adult, and had caught him outside her house with personal belongings that had gone missing, like underwear and stuff like that. And so the the cops see a picture of this person and they realize that when they had been searching the house the day before, when her body was found that this person had been walking up and down the sidewalk while they were searching the house, oh my gosh. So they decide to make the house look as if it’s dark, that they’re done with their investigation. And they kind of set up this sting, OK? And he strolls down the street, walks up to the house and uses a key to get inside. So he somehow, during this course of stalking, had gotten a key to get in the house. Wow. And they figured out that that was how he had gotten into the house and murdered her, and he eventually did get arrested and convicted of her murder.
Susan Reff: Hmm. Wow. And in Nebraska to to talk a little bit more about the law, too. If if you violate a stalking law, if you’re charged with it, it’s a class one misdemeanor unless there’s a couple of things like the but if the victim is under 16, then it’s a felony. If you had a deadly weapon at the time of the crime, it’s a felony and deadly weapon is also defined later, just like stalking and harass, harass and family member. And all of that is defined
Erin Wetzel: Right because it could be more than what you would think of. Like, it’s not just a knife or a gun, right? It could be a lot of different things, depending on the manner in which it’s
Susan Reff: Used, right? And then another way it can be a felony is if the person has had a prior conviction under the same section or a substantially conforming criminal violation within the last seven years. That’s pretty broad. That is so I wonder, you know, if a person gets charged with stalking and in the past seven years, they had been convicted of domestic violence assault. You know, if that would be, yeah, substantially conforming.
Erin Wetzel: I think sometimes that language is meant to cover convictions from other states. So if a person was convicted of what would, what we would in Nebraska would call stalking. But maybe they call it some type of harassment in another state? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. The other interesting thing about getting this charge as a felony is they say that they can charge it as a felony if the conduct that they’re charging for the stalking is also in violation of a protection order. Which is interesting because we just talked about how we more likely see violations of protection orders. So I find it interesting that we haven’t seen somebody charged with both the violation of a protection order and the stalking as a felony, right, because it’s in violation of the protection order. So maybe it’s because a lot of times when we see the violation of the protection order, they they typically arrest somebody after they do it once, right?
Susan Reff: Yes, I think they do. I think I I don’t think you’re just going to get a ticket and say, Oh, show up at your court date. I think you’re going to get arrested and have to. But people can post bond and get out and be able to violate again or commit continue to commit crimes.
Erin Wetzel: Right. And I have had cases where I’ve had people who are charged with multiple charges of violating a protection order, right? You know, I’ve had once one time where he was charged with four different charges of that. So at that point, would that equate to stalking or are they still just looking at it as the the single violations? And they don’t want to make that argument that everything together amounts to stalking?
Susan Reff: Yeah, in a course of conduct, yeah.
Erin Wetzel: Well, and you’re aware that when county attorneys are looking at what to charge. Of course, they’re going to charge what they think is easier to prove, right? Yeah. So it’s kind of the same thing where a lot of times we see, you know, in a shooting case where the victim doesn’t die, they charged first degree assault rather than attempted murder because it’s easier to prove the assault rather than prove that somebody was trying to murder somebody and it just didn’t work.
Susan Reff: Right? Yeah, yeah, that’s true. So and maybe that’s why we haven’t seen a lot of these stalking cases is, you know, there’s something about the actions that they feel they can’t. For sure, prove stalking, but they can prove the other things, you know, the the protection or violation or the trespass or the damage to property or assault or whatever it may be, right?
Erin Wetzel: But then that makes me think maybe some of our county attorney’s offices need to get more training on this topic and make themselves more comfortable with it. Right. Because if we’re not seeing people charged with it, that might be preventing some victims from coming forward and reporting it because it kind of goes in line with that. You know that the thought process of am I going to report this because nobody’s going to take me seriously? Right. So there probably still needs to be training within county attorney’s offices and with the police of recognizing these behaviors and what it is, right? So that they can because what’s the point of having a statute if it’s not being used properly
Susan Reff: Or used at all?
Erin Wetzel: Right. Yeah, yeah. And you can’t tell me that they’re not using it because it’s not happening. It’s definitely
Susan Reff: Happening. Well, and that kind of goes to the next thing that we were going to talk about is like these famous cases, right? We see it all the time. You hear so and so, you know, some famous person has been stalked by, you know, this person. They just showed up at their home and they get arrested. Well, then the police uncover multiple different contacts that have happened over time, either in person mail email through, you know, the celebrity’s staff that that happens and we really hear about it when something bad happens. Usually in this where somebody gets killed or the person is, you know, in the home and they get arrested, right?
Erin Wetzel: I mean, that’s when you’re hearing about what these celebrities usually is when these stalkers show up at their house and are arrested at their house. And then, like you said, it comes out that these celebrities have been stalked by this person for a significant period of time had tried getting protection orders against them in. And once you actually hear some of the facts, you’re like, Wow, that is so disturbing.
Susan Reff: And it’s clearly the stalking. Right? I don’t think anyone would say, Oh, that’s just a trespass or something like that.
Erin Wetzel: Well, when we were, you know, looking at some of these celebrity stories, you know, I came across a story about Gwyneth Paltrow and they said she’s been stalked by the same man for over 20 years. That’s horrible. And he’s been arrested multiple times. And, you know, kind of with her story, which falls in line with some of the other stories that I’ve heard of just average people being stalked. You know, sometimes these stalkers will take a break for months, for years even. And then all of a sudden they come out of the woodwork and they start stalking this person again.
Susan Reff: They’re in jail for stalking somebody else, and during that time, probably probably. Or a mental hospital, because I mean, a lot. I mean, that’s really what this comes down to is is mental illness. Usually, I would think.
Erin Wetzel: Right? Yeah, I mean, I think with a lot of these perpetrators, it’s not surprising to find out that they have stalked other victims or that they’ve had multiple protection orders taken out on them. You know, former romantic partners or whatever.
Susan Reff: So like the Keira Knightley story, I mean that person. So the story that aired and I found is Keira Knightley and her husband and her daughter were living in a, you know, living somewhere, and they, her stalker was coming and meowing through the mail slot over and over and over again and like trying to probably get their attention, get them, either draw them out of the house, get them to open the door. I don’t know if Keira Knightley had a cat, but it was surely some pretty interesting tactics.
Erin Wetzel: Well, and when you hear that right, your first instinct is to laugh because that sounds so ridiculous. Somebody comes to your house and meows through the mail slot. Yeah, but and that goes in line with our it. It’s about the effect on the victim, right? What other people don’t know is she had had other contacts from him. He had been contacting her by letter email trying to reach out to her showing up at her house. So while that sounds funny on its face, that must have been terrifying to her. Yeah. And you know, it says in here too, that he had also sent her a USB flash drive with music about cats. And so while it sounds funny, obviously this person has some mental health issues. Yeah, if he’s one doing the stalking and two, that’s what he’s doing. And so, you know, sometimes you see people in the media or, you know, just pop culture trying to make fun of some of these things. And it’s it’s not it’s not funny to people who are victims and who have actually experienced that.
Susan Reff: Well, and in in also this idea of this cat theme, this guy was going on. He also. In some of his words of some of the things he wrote to her was saying that he was the devil, that he was the public executioner. He had sent her some topless photos of topless girls. So I mean, there’s like a lot more to it, but no one, right? Everyone’s just going to hear about this meowing part and be like, Oh, come on, that’s not that bad. I mean, sure, it’s annoying, but right? It’s not scary. Whereas, you know, I think someone walking up to your door opening, if you have this mail slot opening that and like trying to get your attention, that is scary.
Erin Wetzel: Yeah, I think any person, even if there hadn’t been all of the other stuff going on. I think if you were in a in a house and especially if you’re in a house by yourself and that happened to you and you didn’t know who this person was, you’d be terrified. Yeah.
Susan Reff: You know, and I think in past podcasts we had talked about like the Jodie Foster thing and that was and that was in the like late 80s, early 90s.
Erin Wetzel: No, I think it was earlier than I think it was early eighties because she was quite well.
Susan Reff: She was a young child.
Erin Wetzel: She was, I think she was in college at the time
Susan Reff: And her stalker ended up killing or shooting at Ronald Reagan, right? Right. Yeah.
Erin Wetzel: John Hinckley. Well, and I think you could probably argue that he ended up killing somebody because he also shot Brady, right, who, you know, lived all this time and just recently passed away, but passed away from. And it can be linked to those injuries. So technically they could go back and charge him with murder now. I don’t think they’re going to because I believe he was sentenced to a mental health facility.
Susan Reff: Yeah, but he had been stalking Jodie Foster.
Erin Wetzel: Yeah. And he he did the assassination attempt on Reagan because in his crazy mind, he thought he would impress her by doing that and that it was like his quote love letter to her.
Susan Reff: It was an 81. Yeah, wow. Were you even born? No, I was not. Yeah, apparently he was just released from all of his restrictions because they said he’s mentally stable now.
Erin Wetzel: Yeah, I think he was released on parole, but he had all of these continuing restrictions for mental health stuff. And then it was, yeah, that he finally got released off of all the restrictions because they said he’s better. Yeah, wow. Which is what happens when you are found not guilty by reason of insanity?
Susan Reff: Yes. You don’t go to jail.
Erin Wetzel: You go to a mental health.
Susan Reff: You don’t go free.
Erin Wetzel: Right?
Susan Reff: You basically are in a mental health facility until you are no longer a danger. Right? You know, and another thing that we were going to talk about as far as stalking, that’s a little different than these people who are showing up at people’s doorsteps. And, you know, assaulting people is like cyberstalking, and that’s a newer, a newer part of, you know, law enforcement with stalking because of the electronic access to people through texting, email, social media contacts. And you know, we see this, we see unwanted contact through, you know, electronic means even in divorce cases, you know, someone will in the middle of the nights and, you know, 10 or 15, you know, hate hate texts to someone that they’re going through a divorce with, right?
Erin Wetzel: You know, and with the cyberstalking when we’re stalking, when we’re talking specifically about stalkers that don’t make their identity known to the victim. If the stalker is good enough, they can use the online platforms and different things to hide their identity. And then that causes even more problems for stalking victims. Because, you know, police either don’t want to devote the resources to trying to figure it out, or sometimes if the stalkers are good enough, it’s almost impossible for authorities to figure out who these people are because they can use all these means to hide where they’re completing these actions from. Because, you know, you can go on these websites that makes it look like you’re in a country in Europe, when in reality you’re sitting in Omaha, Nebraska, in your house, right? Doing all this stuff
Susan Reff: And some of the things we uncovered about cyber stalking are are pretty scary because you can you can go on to public forums and you can get other people to help you. Yeah. You know, scare this person or pass along information. This fake information you maybe have created about the person or in the instance where people have been in a intimate relationship. Ship with someone, and now they’re broken up or they’re breaking up. For whatever reason, people like to have pictures taken and there’s all these pictures, and then that person uses those pictures to, you know, they publish them and then they can get those out there. And that’s a form of of harassment and stalking too.
Erin Wetzel: Right. I actually had a client on a protection order recently that had broken up with this person, and he did not want the relationship to end. And that’s what he did to her. He started threatening her that if she didn’t start talking to him again, he would send these pictures to family members, employers, whoever. She refused to talk to him. And that’s what he did. He sent it to all of her family members, and luckily her family was very understanding and supported her through all of it. But I mean, he was showing up at her place of work. He was driving by all the time. He was sending her countless emails and Facebook messages, and she would block him on something. And then he would just find another way to contact her, set up another email. And so it was just constant harassment
Susan Reff: And sometimes even with social media. They they can have a fake account that looks like, you know, like in your instance, it might look like one of her friends, right? You know, because people can copy social media accounts easily
Erin Wetzel: And you can I mean, you can spoof things. I think we’ve all had spam emails that we’ve received that spoof it to make it look like it’s coming from a person. You know, whether it’s just by putting that person’s name in there or even getting as detailed as making it look like it’s coming from that person’s email address? Yeah. I mean, we get emails here in our spam all the time where it says to me that it’s coming from Tracy and it’s like, could you help me with the task real quick? And I know it’s not from her because it’s worded in a way she wouldn’t word something or she’s down the hall and she would just come and ask me for something.
Susan Reff: Yeah, the the other thing too with the photos is you can photoshop, right? So even if that person doesn’t have actual photos of someone you know, naked or whatever, they can find a photo online. Photoshop your head or face onto it and threaten you that way and send that out. And you know, people may or may not. The receiver might not be like, Oh, this isn’t really Erin, this is photoshopped, you know? The harm is done. It doesn’t matter. Right? So that’s that’s another really scary thing. And I think something that we see a lot when we hear about cyber stalking is the person is generally pretty tech savvy. You know, like, maybe they do it for their job. They know how to put tracking devices on people. They know how to turn things on on your phone when you’re not even aware of it. Like, you know, when you hang out with someone, you pass or you’re like, Look at my phone, look at this picture and you know, you get up and leave your phone on the table when you go to the bathroom or whatever and someone might be doing things on your phone, you don’t even know about setting things to alert them. Right? So I had just heard this morning on the news that one of the models for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition had gotten one of those apple tiles or whatever attached to her coat when she was out in public and someone was following her.
Erin Wetzel: That’s terrifying.
Susan Reff: I know, right? And Apple had put in a measure where if it’s not your account, that set it up. So like, you know, I ride bikes, people’s bikes get stolen all the time. Sometimes people will put those tracking devices on their bike in case it gets stolen and then it’s attached to their account. Right. So Apple has notified her and said, Hey, there’s this tracking on you, but it’s not attached to your account. You know, we’re making you aware in case you weren’t aware, and that’s what notified her of it. Then she searched her code and found the little sticky thing on there.
Erin Wetzel: Jeez. Yeah. And then it’s like your mind would just like for her. Like she has to now think of like, who is this person that put this on me? What was their intention? Yeah, like because it
Susan Reff: Did they put it on more than just my coat? Right? Maybe it’s on my purse, you know, whatever, right?
Erin Wetzel: And you’re thinking, So is this like maybe a crazy paparazzi person who just wants to get me in an area to take a picture that no other paparazzi would have access to? Or is it something extreme or this person wants to follow me and hurt me, right?
Susan Reff: Another thing we talked about and you, you brought up a really interesting thing is, you know, sometimes people think this is really like cute or romantic or sweet. And, you know, even in certain movies, the the person says, I don’t want to be with you anymore, and they break off this relationship and the other person does like these grandiose, awesome romantic gestures. Which? The person said, I don’t want this. And then we’re all like, Oh, that’s so sweet, and then they like, fall for them, right? Like they romanticize some of these stalking things.
Erin Wetzel: Yeah. And I think, you know, whereas everybody looked at that, like you said, as romantic before now that people are becoming more in tune with some of the psychological abuse that goes on with domestic relationships. It’s gotten that phrase of love bombing. Yes, where these abusers will come in and they love bomb and they do all this affectionate activity and all these grand gestures to make this person that they’re pursuing think, Wow, this is such a great, fantastic relationship. And then once they actually get into the relationship and kind of hook them, then it turns. And that’s when they become, you know, controlling and abusive.
Susan Reff: Well, and we see that in cycles of domestic violence all the time, that right, when the person says I’m done, they try to break it off. The person love bombs them with affection, flowers, you know, all sorts of great attention. And then the relationship continues and then it deteriorates, and then the person tries to break it off again and then they get love bombed again. And it’s like this huge cycle. And and just to steal Matt’s line, it’s only romantic because the person ended up they ended up together, right? Or it’s only Kate or whatever.
Erin Wetzel: Well, and it’s it’s kind of interesting to see some new entertainment that’s coming out and showing some of the stalking behavior. I I don’t watch the show. I never watched Sex and the City, but there’s a new show that came out like a continuation, and I was reading an article about how after big dies, that Kerry starts basically stalking his ex wife. And I was reading this article and it was showing these
Susan Reff: Guys, so I watch the city. I haven’t watched the new release yet, and you just told me big dies.
Erin Wetzel: That’s been all over the news.
Susan Reff: I I know, I know. Well, OK. So to to reverse a little back in the old, the original sex and the city, her in big get together and break up. Like, I don’t know, he is a terrible person. She should have never ended up with him, my opinion. But yeah, well, this article, she stalked his wife back then and she fell down the stairs and like, broke her teeth out.
Erin Wetzel: Yeah, that’s what they brought up in this article that she had done it in the previous show and that they argued that big probably actually was doing some of that stuff to carry, too. And so they said that that falls in line with stalkers that, you know, she did it before and now years later here she’s coming back and doing it again, that she’s confronting her and basically acting like she deserves to talk to Big’s ex wife. When his ex wife has said, Leave me alone, I want nothing to do with you. And that falls in line with stalking, where the stalker believes that they are entitled to a relationship, to this contact, to communication, to the victim acknowledging what they’re doing. Yeah.
Susan Reff: So the old episodes, you know, Carrie was not yet hadn’t quite made it, you know, she was living in a rent controlled brownstone, and a lot of her meet ups with big would be he would pull up in front of her brownstone when she was walking home from an evening with the girls and he’d be in his limo or his town car and he’d roll down the window and she was like having a good time with her girlfriends, walking home, thinking, What a great night I just had with my friends. You know, a girls night out and he’d roll down the window and be like, You want to come over? And it was like and she had was just getting over him, and then he would show up and he was like, this knight in shining armor in his limo, and she would get swept up and go back with him. And it was. She’s a very flawed character. Very flawed.
Erin Wetzel: I’d say that’s Dockery.
Susan Reff: Yeah, like, I mean, it’s very hookup culture, like just show up at the end of the night and be like, Hey.
Erin Wetzel: Right? Or the other show we were talking about you. Yeah. So I’ve watched the first season. I haven’t watched the next two. I watched it originally. It was on Lifetime and then Netflix bought it out after that and has done the next two seasons. And anybody who watches that show knows that the main character, Joe, is a stalker. It is like obvious from the
Susan Reff: Premise
Erin Wetzel: Of the show. Yeah, the premise of the show is that he is the stalker, and he sees this woman in this bookstore where he works and decides he needs her. He wants her and he starts doing whatever he has to do to get her. But there’s some criticism of it still that even with as crazy as he is. They still make him kind of the hero instead of likable, and they make them likable, even though he’s crazy and he’s weird because you know that the excuse me, the actor who plays them, Penn Badgley, he’s very likable and he’s a good looking guy. Yeah. So there’s been some criticism of that show, too, but that other that’s another thing in Maine culture and entertainment pop culture that talks about the stalking stuff and the
Susan Reff: Stalkers are always, like, very traditionally handsome. The men, you know, they’re like, very like people would have a hard time denying that person’s good looking. Right? They fit that kind of like JFK Jr handsome role.
Erin Wetzel: If if you want to listen to a podcast that talks about stalking with just your average person. There’s the podcast that I listen to. It’s called Strictly Stalking Each. Each episode each week is a person being interviewed who’s been stalked, and it’s people. Sometimes, you know, it’s not all former. Yeah, some of it’s like people who are stalked by neighbors and just all this harassing behavior that the neighbors do. And you listen to each episode and you think, I thought I wouldn’t hear another crazy thing, and it is insane some of the things that these people have had to go through
Susan Reff: And they set up. So the little trailer for you on on Netflix sets it up as what would you do for love? Like, Oh, let’s be clear, stalking isn’t love. No, if you love someone, you wouldn’t stalk them. You, you would do the opposite. If you it’s if you love someone, let them go. If they don’t want to be with you, don’t stalk them. Oh, that’s so it seems so easy for us to say right. But it’s I mean, we’re making light of it a little bit, but this is very serious and we understand that. But you know, when we talk about these things, there’s a certain subset of people that just behave this way and think this way and think these things are OK.
Erin Wetzel: And you know, always the concern is with a stalker or are they going to continue to escalate the behavior?
Susan Reff: Right? It’s going to go beyond just letters
Erin Wetzel: Or whatever, because there’s that statistic with women who are victims of domestic violence and specifically murder victims. It’s like 70 percent. Seventy six percent of them had been stalked by this person prior to being murdered. And there’s actually a very famous case here in Omaha where stalking led to murder. And it’s the case of Cari Farver. You know, she was murdered by the ex of a guy she had been dating for only like two weeks and then that ex who murdered her started like, took over her identity and started stalking the ex boyfriend in an attempt to get him to take her back by pretending that they were both victims of Kerry Farver, who she had actually murdered. And it went on for years before police finally took care his family seriously. When they said, yes, we understand that she’s been reaching out to people on social media and by text, but we’re telling you it is not her and nobody has physically seen her.
Susan Reff: She was like considered a missing person. Right?
Erin Wetzel: They they cared. So she lived in a small town in Iowa, but worked in Omaha, and that’s how she met this guy. His name was Dave. Dave Krupa. Yes, Dave Krupa. And he actually does one of these episodes on the Strictly Stalking podcast. And so her family reported her missing in Iowa, but cops kind of wrote them off because they said, Well, they’re still getting these communications. Yeah. And then in Omaha, this Dave and then his ex-girlfriend, now current girlfriend, who was actually the one doing all this, were reporting it to cops that Kerry was the one stalking. So people, the cops in Omaha were investigating it as if Kerry was the person who was doing all this. But they were very confused because they thought any time this stuff happens and we go to try to find her, she’s never around. Like, How is it that she always evades us and we can never find her right? So after several years of this, these cops in Iowa finally decided to look at it closer and once said, I’m going to look at this case as if she’s that she’s missing something happened to her and that she’s not the one doing this. And the other one said, I’m going to look at it as if she is the person who’s doing this and the person who is looking at it as if she was still alive and doing this hit a hit a brick and pretty quickly. Yeah. And so that so then they kind of turned it on this. Her name was Shana. Yeah, Shana. Liz Goyer. They kind of turned it on her. Set her up and made it seem as if they believed her. And then she at that point, she had started to get jealous of Dave’s baby mama. And so she started trying to frame her for it. And then they basically caught her in the act because she she fell for this story that they told her that they believed her, that this baby mama was now the one who had done all this well.
Susan Reff: And interestingly, I mean, Dave was a victim also in this right because he was getting these messages and not know and thinking they were coming from one person when they were actually coming from someone else.
Erin Wetzel: And he was getting the messages like all day, every day, and he was having his apartment broken into, you know, like his car would get spray painted. This this Liz, who did all of this. She set her home, own her own house on fire to make herself look like a victim and killed a bunch of her own pets.
Susan Reff: Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that part of it.
Erin Wetzel: Yeah.
Susan Reff: Did she try to make it look like
Erin Wetzel: Dave did it? No, she was making it look like Carrie did. And then she would send texts from Carrie’s phone saying, like, I did that confessing. And then she she tricked Dave to to the extent that she would use these apps to set up delayed texts. And so Dave and her would have a plan to hang out that night. And so she would set up this app to send out texts to both of them when she knew they’d be hanging out. So he never had any reason to suspect Liz because he’d be like, I’m hanging out in my house watching a movie with Liz and her and I are both getting these messages from Carrie, and she would say stuff like, Oh, you’re watching a movie because she knew they plan on watching a movie. So then he’d think, Oh my God, Carrie’s like looking through my window. Yeah.
Susan Reff: And all the while she’s dead. Yeah. And was she the woman that they found in the barrel?
Erin Wetzel: No, they never found her body. What? So they found her car? Her car showed up a couple of months after she first went missing in the parking lot of Dave’s apartment, and so he called the police and said her car’s here. So they towed the car or whatever. And then after they started suspecting more about this, Liz, and they kind of set her up, they got her to write an email purporting to be from the baby mama, saying I murdered her in her car. So then they found her car and they ripped it apart and they found blood all over the passenger seat. Ok, and then they had also found like a mint container in the car with an unknown fingerprint, which later turned out to be Liz’s fingerprint. And then, after they had arrested her for murder, the cops went back to Dave and said, Do you happen to have any other electronic devices that we haven’t looked at? And he was like, Oh yeah, actually, I have this old laptop that Liz used to use sometimes when she was over here. So they they gave it to Dave, gave it to him. So this is while the case is pending before trial, and then the cop doesn’t even really think anything of it. And then one day just thinks I should probably take a look at it. And they realize that Liz had taken like a little sim card out of her phone and left it in the laptop, and they started looking through it, and they found a photo of what looked like a decomposed leg. And it had Carrie’s tattoo that
Susan Reff: Was OK because I knew there was a tattoo identifier
Erin Wetzel: Thing. Yeah, so the photo had her tattoo. No, they still, to this day, have never found her body. Wow.
Susan Reff: Huh. So to kind of wrap up a little bit, that is like a really extreme case of stalking, but it doesn’t have to be like that to be considered stalking.
Erin Wetzel: No. And it’s kind of the lesson of why you need to take it seriously when it’s not that extreme so that it doesn’t get to that point.
Susan Reff: And I really like this tagline that National Stalking Awareness Month, the organization that’s putting this on, says and they say, no, it name it. Stop it. So we’ve tried to kind of say like, here’s what stalking is, so we know what it is, and we can put a name to it like unwanted contact of any kind, even if it’s not face to face is is stalking. Right? And, you know, hopefully people know that they’re, you know, whether a person gets charged with actual stalking or they get charged with something else. That’s a step in putting putting that person, stopping that person from continuing.
Erin Wetzel: Right. And my advice is that you yourself, if you feel uncomfortable with something, take it seriously. Don’t brush it off. Don’t tell yourself that you’re being crazy about it and start documenting everything. Yeah. You know, keep a log of everything that this person does, even if it seems minor. Because if it does get more serious to the point where you need to report it, then you have the documentation of everything to show. The cops that hit has been this course of conduct and it’s been going on long enough and it’s serious and something needs to be done about it.
Susan Reff: Sometimes even, you know, people say this if you if you’re talking with a friend and they say that doesn’t seem right, because sometimes you’re clouded because you have had a relationship with this person, you’re not the best person to analyze your situation. But if you and I are talking, you know, we’re eating lunch and I tell you some things that are happening and you’re like, Geez, Susan, that sounds that sounds weird. That sounds unusual. Like that’s also a way to document is to tell someone else and then trust their gut if your gut is not quite there yet.
Erin Wetzel: Right? Because you do hear that and some of the stories where the the person who’s been dating this person or whatever is telling the story and thinks it’s a weird quirk or, oh, they’re just doing it because they care, you know, like the controlling behavior or whatever and a friend can tell you like that. No, that shouldn’t be what’s happening. You don’t deserve that, right?
Susan Reff: Right? So some good takeaways. If someone’s in this situation or if you know someone and they tell you, like, this is what my ex is doing, you know, help help make them aware that it’s shocking and not it’s not OK.
Erin Wetzel: Right. And if you’re a man who’s experiencing this from the woman, it’s OK to report it and it’s OK to be uncomfortable and be scared of it and keep pursuing it, even if people try to downplay it. Because the person doing it to you as a female and trying to act like you shouldn’t be scared of a female. Those situations can obviously be scary to just like the story about Carrie Farver.
Susan Reff: Yep. So we’re going to continue with some more information about stocking awareness on our website, in our blog, on our social media this whole month to help people know more about stocking more about resources for victims. More about the laws, more about cases. So check out our website, check out our social media. I know we posted a really great post at the beginning of the month on our Facebook page and again,
Erin Wetzel: Know it, name it, and stop it. Thanks for listening. Thank you.
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