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Like it did for so many other things in life, the Internet made stalking way easier for creeps and weirdos the world over. It's become such an epidemic that even the elderly are getting in on the act in Japan. In recent years, that demographic has seen the highest increase in stalking incidents among that batshit insane country's population.

Don't take this to mean that, again, like so many other things in life, stalking has become something the United States is no longer the best at (the same as with education, healthcare, winning wars, going to space, baseball, track, golf, science-fiction shows about life in a not-too-distant dystopian future, etc). Quite the contrary; we're still great at that shit. To prove it, we talk about some of the more noteworthy stalking incidents from recent history on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...

... where I'm joined by comics Dani Fernandez, Ed Galvez, and Jeff May. It's also what I'm talking in this column here today. Follow me!

"The Watcher" Claims Ownership of New Jersey Mansion

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When a couple recently laid down $1.3 million for a 7,500-square-foot mansion, they assumed they'd found their dream home. Which is weird, because it's located in New Jersey, which you might recognize as the polar opposite of a dream scenario. Still, they were psyched, and who am I to judge? The coolest thing about the place where I live is that there's no one else here with me, so if I get a little blood on the floor and decide to leave it there like some kind of conversation piece from the Investigation Discovery gift shop, no one says shit.

See it? Just to the left of the basket full of murder tools.

Speaking of blood, let's get back to that couple. Three days after closing on their new home, they received a letter from a man (just an assumption I'm making and never wavering from) who referred to himself only as "The Watcher." And boy did he have news! According to his correspondence, the couple's new digs had been "the subject of his family for decades." No, I don't know exactly what that means either, which makes it so much more terrifying. But it gets worse.

After adding the house had been "watched" by his grandfather in the 1920s and his father in the 1960s, he advised that he'd been put in charge of overseeing its "second coming."

It wasn't the only letter, either. There were several, each one creepier than the one that came before. At various points, the mysterious scribe mentioned the previous owners by name, claimed they'd promised to bring him "young blood" ...

The hockey movie starring Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze?

... and mentioned details about the interior of the house. He asked who would be occupying "the rooms facing the street," on the grounds that it would help him "plan better." Motherfuckershitgoddamn!

Unsurprisingly, the couple was spooked to the point that they never even bothered moving in. They filed a lawsuit against those previous, blood-promising owners -- who, as it turns out, had received a "Watcher" letter of their own before the sale closed, a horrifying amenity they failed to disclose to prospective buyers.

Of course, you can't file a lawsuit like that and then turn around and not disclose the fact that your house has an obsessed fan to people who express an interest in making a purchase. Needless to say, that makes unloading the house through traditional means a bit of a long shot. Unless "The Watcher" is really just an elaborate scam on the part of someone looking to buy the house at a reduced price. Maybe someone who got outbid at some point during the process that led to the initial sale?

I really feel like I just provided the break this case so desperately needs, but I'm not going to get cocky about it.

Kevin Gary Has His Day In Court (Repeatedly)

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Kevin Gary is kind of like the Scientology of stalkers (there's a Scientology for everything -- I'll explain later), in that if you question his actions in a way that makes him look bad in the eyes of the public, he will use the legal system to make your life a living hell.

First, though, he'll make your life a living hell all on his own. That's what he set out to do after a woman named Harvette Williams gave him her business card at a party. Well, his initial intent was to ask her out when he called her the very next day, but when she had the gall to shoot him down, things got weird. It started with Gary driving past Williams' place of employment on an almost daily basis. She noted that he was in a different car each time, like some kind of budget-minded Jay Leno using his fleet of $15,000-$17,000 mid-sized sedans to pull off the shittiest Jaywalking skit of all time.

He also called her dozens of times a day, as every stalker training manual since the dawn of the telephone era has instructed. So far, this is all standard operating procedure.

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"Excuse me, this book said I was supposed to follow you here."

Gary started to set himself apart from the average lovesick psychopath when he approached a maintenance man at Williams' apartment complex with an offer that was just too good to refuse: $500 in exchange for a key to her place.

Actually, that offer should be so easy to refuse. The odds that you won't be spending that money securing a dollar store defense lawyer to guide you through the process of being tried and convicted as an accessory to murder are just astronomical, and that's just the beginning of the myriad reasons you shouldn't do it. Not wanting to carry around the guilt of knowing you're a person made mostly of trash should be another.

It's fortunate that this severe deviation from typical apartment maintenance policy didn't end in murder. It's less fortunate that it did end with Williams realizing that not only had Gary been in her apartment, but that he licked the bathroom mirror while he was there. Or someone did, at least, and that it was him probably wasn't too many spots ahead on the conclusion mat, if that's the one a person wanted to jump to.

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Is nostalgia for Office Space references a thing yet?

Gary was eventually arrested and charged with stalking. He went to prison for his crime, and in a perfect world, that would be the end of the story. It's not even close.

Upon being released, Gary promptly filed a $100 million lawsuit against Harvette Williams and a production company that featured her story on a true crime series, claiming both had slandered his good name with their baseless stalking allegations. Never mind that this was a crime he'd already pleaded guilty to, because he had a perfectly sound explanation for that:

"If you ever watch the movie Roots, R-O-O-T-S, by Alex Haley, the same way Kunta Kinte proclaimed his innocence, it's the same way I proclaim my innocence. They forced Kunta Kinte to say 'Toby.' They forced me to say 'Toby' to take a plea."

Just like in the book.

It should go without saying that those are the words of a man who acts as his own lawyer in court. That adds yet another layer of silly and frivolous to his lawsuit, and thanks in large part to your misguided faith in the American court system, you're likely assuming his case was immediately dismissed into oblivion. Technically, yes, it was, but that's precisely the kind of outcome appeals are made for, and Gary has appealed this nonsense all the way up to the Michigan supreme court.

That's not somewhere you get to fast, and this case is no exception. He's dragged this fiasco out for more than ten years, far surpassing the number of years he actually spent harassing Williams through more traditional means. He's kind of like the stalker version of a cop who gets injured in the line of duty in such a way that he's forced to resign himself to a lifetime of soulless desk work.

There's one of those for everything too.

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Derek Knowles Is Dedicated To Stalking

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You know who still listens to the radio? Crazy people. A 50-year-old trucker from England named Derek Knowles proved this recently when he harnessed the awesome person-to-person communication possibilities of the FM radio format to circumvent a restraining order.

He earned that cease-and-desist-being-a-creep letter by virtue of stalking a woman with incessant texts and phone calls after she broke off their three-month affair. The court demanded he stay away from her for five years, but Knowles devised a brilliant workaround when he began texting dedication requests to DJs at London's Smooth FM. The creepy messages, some of which were read on the air, described the victim as his future bride.

Because, as stated earlier, no one listens to the radio, it took a while for people to catch on to what was happening. After a friend who was familiar with the situation heard one of the dedications read on the show Lynn Parsons In The Morning, she contacted the victim, who immediately went to the police.

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"Who still listens to the radio?"

An investigation revealed that Knowles had sent ten dedication requests, but there was no way of knowing which ones, or how many of them, actually made it onto the air. Among some of the creepier messages police uncovered:

"Hi Lynn, could you say hi to the beautiful [victim's name], will see you later for coffee -- if possible could you play some Take That?"

"Hi Lynn, could you please say hello to a couple of friends Derek Knowles and [victim's name]. Hope they are still together."

"Could you say hi to Derek and [victim's name] and ask him if he's asked her to marry him yet?"

In another, he pretended to be the victim and sent himself a "get well soon" message.

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Sticking to the official creep code of honor, Knowles decided to represent himself in court. He was sentenced to six months in jail and suspended for two years, along with 100 hours of unpaid work. Also, we've got a rock block of Van Halen classics coming up after the break. Stay tuned!

Ricardo Lopez Plots To Kill Bjork With An HIV Needle Bomb

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One of the obvious downsides of being famous is that you sometimes have to deal with crazy or otherwise unstable fans. Celebrity stalkers are in the news almost every day, usually after getting arrested hopping the fence at some young starlet's home. But when Ricardo Lopez found himself hopelessly obsessed with Iceland's biggest (and only) music export, Bjork, his stalking tactics had to follow more of a long-distance relationship kind of path, seeing as how he was in Florida and she was in England, or whatever other gloomy destination people from Iceland flee to so they can introduce sunlight into their lives without it being a total shock to the system.

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No Arctic fox pups in England, though.

This meant that, for months, his antics were limited to gushing to his family about how he wished he could invent a time machine and go back to the '70s and meet the undoubtedly-still-super-weird child version of Bjork. Friendship only! He said they could never have sex, because he loved her. Also, where would he find the time, what with the 803 page's worth of diary entries he cranked out about the singer over the years?

Things took a turn for the so-much-worse when Lopez read about Bjork's relationship with British entertainer of some sort Goldie. All those months spent being the creepiest motherfucker on the planet were all for naught! There was but one solution ... he was going to have to mail her a bomb outfitted with hypodermic needles filled with HIV-tainted blood.

Holy shit, wait, what? How was that supposed to work? Well, he was going to get the blood from a local prostitute, presumably the first one he spotted wearing one of those medical alert bracelets with the AIDS logo on it.

Interesting fact: AIDS doesn't actually have a logo.

From there ... the plan kind of fell through. Turns out it was logistically impossible. Go figure. Instead, he had to settle for mailing one of those garden-variety bombs that looks like a book and shoots sulfuric acid in the face of the person who opens it, just like the kind your granddad used to order from the back of comic books as a kid.

Don't worry; the joke was on him. Not only did her mail get routed through her management company, where Lopez's contraption could do no more damage than taking the relatively worthless life of some music industry shithead's personal assistant, but Bjork had actually ended her relationship with Goldie a few days earlier.

Still no clue what this guy does.

Fortunately, the bomb was intercepted by police, who were tipped off to Lopez's plans after a maintenance worker investigating a strange smell found the crazed fan in his apartment, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Several videotapes' worth of footage of Lopez sharing his deranged thoughts during every stage of his plan, including his final violent act, was found at the scene. You can watch it all on the Internet, but come on, why the fuck would you?

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Brian Curtis Hile Strikes Back (At The Wrong Target)

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How terrifying is the story of Brian Curtis Hile? Terrifying enough that the FBI wrote a goddamn blog post about it.

It all started when Hile entered into an online relationship with an attractive young woman who -- everyone say it with me -- turned out to be a dude from another country. South Africa, to be exact. And when Hile figured out what was happening, he decided to get revenge. The only problem was that, man, South Africa is so far away. Who has the time?

Instead of getting his passport involved, Hile decided to take his frustrations out on the woman whose pictures he'd been making hand love to for so many years. Of course, she had no clue her pictures were being used. Her Photobucket account had been hacked into years earlier, and a bunch of images ended up online. This guy in South Africa just happened upon them randomly while searching for an identity to steal.

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Would you help this woman get $5 million dollars out of a bank account in her home country?

Try telling that to the disturbed brain of Hile, who used the images as a starting point to find as much information as he could about the young woman. Unfortunately, that was quite a lot. Enough that when he was arrested just a mile from her home in California (after traveling from Michigan), he was found to be in possession of all sorts of personal details about his intended target and her boyfriend, including schools she'd attended and even her favorite restaurant. He also had zip ties, duct tape, and a to-do list for carrying out the murder of the completely innocent woman and her even more innocent significant other. It included things like "find chloroform" ...

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How hard can that be?

... and "buy trench coat." Because what criminal doesn't wear a trench coat? He was caught because his family, with whom he'd apparently shared the details of his plan, alerted authorities after he left town.

Hile was eventually sentenced to five years in prison for his crime. His victim was sentenced to a lifetime of never knowing exactly how many desperate Internet weirdos she might be unknowingly "dating" at any given moment. That seems way worse.

Adam is on Twitter. You should follow him there @adamtodbrown.

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For more from Adam, check out 5 Cover Songs That Deserve More Praise Than The Original and 6 Reasons Fear Of Abandonment Will Ruin Your Life.

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