What do I do to track my stalker?
October 31, 2007 10:04 PM   Subscribe

My husband recently recieved a death-threat via email from a former coworker. We want to know what we can do to track his home address, car, and other stuff, so we don't run into him.

So, Mr. Beezy worked with a guy, they had a cold relationship, life wen ton. Mr. Beeze left the company about 2 years ago. Then, the team he worked with invited him to come out to a happy hour in a bar in town. They had an altercation, bartender threw them out, and that was 18 months ago. Last week, he got a death threat to his personal account from an anonymous yahoo address, The IP header showed it had been mailed from the guy's work, so we got the hr department to confiscate the hard drive, and they are going to give it to the police. So, today we spoke with a detective to make a report.

Now the party begins. ex-coworker is either going to flip out, or go crazy. We want some basic pieces of information about him: where he lives (the police have three addresses0, as well as what kind of car he drives. It's a big city and there's room for everyone, but I'd just as soon not finding myself nose to nose on a beer run with this guy.

The police are going to interview him, take custody of the hard drive, as well as talk to some other poeple involved. The state may think it's worth to prosecute, or not.

Meanwhile, we feel like a sitting duck, installing floodlights, carrying peppersr\prays, etc.

What are my choices while the wheels of justice turn slowly?
posted by beezy to Human Relations (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Restraining order?
posted by brain cloud at 10:05 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Concealed carry license. (I'm not kidding.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:23 PM on October 31, 2007

you need a TRO.

I think the death threat is an excellent basis for a TRO... problem is you're going to have to find out where to serve him with process... his work might be a safe bet.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 10:28 PM on October 31, 2007

A restraining order is your best bet. I don't know how things are in DC, but in California, once a restraining order is approved by a judge, the offender must either sell or destroy all of his guns within a certain amount of time. It might be good if your local courts have something like that.

Also, (again, I'm not familiar with your local laws) sometimes "emergency" or "expedited" restraining orders can be granted, which would take effect as soon as the judge puts pen to paper (usually within a few hours after you arrive at the courthouse).

Don't buy a gun. Thats a manslaughter trial waiting to happen. We have restraining orders for a reason. Use them.
posted by Avenger at 10:44 PM on October 31, 2007

Also, private investigators or servicing companies (they service your restraining order notice) can help you with the "tracking" part. A good PI should be able to find pretty much anybody.
posted by Avenger at 10:45 PM on October 31, 2007

I can't imagine anyone serious enough to follow through on a death threat being deterred by a restraining order. Don't get me wrong, they have their place in the legal arena as far as things like stalking, verbal or physical abuse, etc because they provide recourse.

However, the poster of the question has asked what to do to feel/be more safe -- not document this guy's craziness so that in case he goes through with the death threat everyone will know whodunnit.

That being said - your best bets are:
- Ask the police what to do - if the officer you talk to is not helpful, find another
- The suggestion of a PI is a good one if you just want to know where not to go and what car to avoid, but I think by the time you've identified "oh, that's the car I want to avoid", it's probably not going to be helpful information.

Hopefully this death threat is just a threat, and I'm sorry that you fear for your safety. Tell the police that you feel unsafe and ask what to do. They're the ones with the most experience in this arena, and they will probably be of better service to you than AskMe.
posted by twiggy at 11:10 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding Steven and twiggy.

If you're out on a beer run and you do come nose-to-nose with someone who's clearly off in the head, which do you think would be more useful to have in your pocket - a legal firearm or a piece of paper?

Its not a manslaughter trial waiting to happen. If you own and operate the firearm in a legal defense of your own life or that of another innocent, and particularly if the person you fire on has already given proof positive of intent to kill you or yours, its pretty much an open-and-shut case.

That said, moving to a new neighborhood comes to mind, if that's an option. If you do, don't leave any forwarding information with anyone but your post-office, they're not allowed to give that info out.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:40 PM on October 31, 2007

I'm having trouble understanding the logic behind the TRO. In order to think this would be effective and useful, you would have to simultaneously believe that the guy is capable of committing murder or assault but unwilling to violate a TRO. I don't get it,.
posted by Lame_username at 11:42 PM on October 31, 2007

Lame_username, I think the logic is that it means the cops are on guard. If you call 911 and say "some old coworker once said he'd kill me, and he just called to say he's on his way to my house" you don't get quite the reaction you'd get if you say "I have a restraining order against someone for making death threats, and he just called to say he is on his way to my house."
posted by salvia at 11:59 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also as Avenger said, the offender must either sell or destroy all of his guns within a certain amount of time, or maybe surrender them to the cops or something equivalent. It puts him on notice that the cops are aware of his expressed intentions and are taking them seriously.

The idea is to stop a person who is capable of threatening murder or assault, but unwilling to violate a TRO. The bottom line is, it calls a bluff if it's a bluff (chances are very good that it is), and as salvia said, it gets you up the assistance queue if it isn't a bluff.

We want some basic pieces of information about him: where he lives (the police have three addresses), as well as what kind of car he drives.

The cops drove up to your husband's workplace and the HR department gave up this guy's HDD to them. The place must be buzzing with the news. Does your husband still speak to anyone there? Pump them for information - they may have seen his car, they may know more-or-less where he is, they may be able to find out for you.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:19 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Get a restraining order, and then it will be his job to avoid you. And if he shows up somewhere, you can just call the cops and have him arrested.
posted by delmoi at 2:14 AM on November 1, 2007

You really need to read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. He speaks directly to this type of issue.
posted by Morgangr at 3:31 AM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

Zabasearch can help you with the addresses, if the cow orker has a distinctive name. You might also try Anywho, especially the reverse lookup if you have a phone number for them.
posted by procrastination at 4:27 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

If this situation is within the borders of Washington, DC, please disregard all above comments urging you to have a gun. There are no concealed-carry laws in DC, and ownership of handguns by District residents is prohibited. You try and pack in Washington and use it and you will most likely get busted for possession even without the manslaughter charge. But you probably already knew that, even if the Gun-havers above don't.
posted by brownpau at 5:09 AM on November 1, 2007

Maybe I watch too many cop shows, but why a death threat 18 months after the fact? I ask this because maybe there are other machinations going on that you know nothing about. Maybe there is a 3rd party involved and finding out who this third party is might shed more light on the situation and provide some info. I guess my question is, why now? I think a PI is a great idea. I'd want to know everything about this psycho and what is motivating him now.
posted by SoulOnIce at 6:14 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

I know someone who was murdered by an ex coworker. Please be very careful. If possible I would move. Also your husband should change his habits as much as possible. The man I knew was killed after he left work in the EL station downtown Chicago during rush hour by a crazy ex co-worker who had somehow blamed all the problems in his life on one blameless individual. This was a few years after they worked together.
So, yes get a TRO, but also be ever vigiliant. This sucks but you have to do what it takes to keep safe.
posted by readery at 6:26 AM on November 1, 2007

posted by bhance at 6:56 AM on November 1, 2007

Response by poster: We have no idea what this threat is all about. We've been in touch with other coworkers, and the most anyone could get is the guy saying 'He knows what he did'

The guy also has at least 3 addresses, one of which is near me, but I don't know how near.

Fortunately, people are my block have ties to the PD, so there is now a police cruiser parked in front of my house. Stalker guy is supposed to be interviewed by the police tomorrow, and the HD will go the police today.

We're just want to know where he lives, what he drives, and how nutty he is (he's been invovled in prior assaults, but I don't know to what degree).

We don't really keep any regular hours, and we're not sure if the guy knows where we live. I'm also a fairly public person in the web world here, speaking at events, so if he wanted to spring on me, he could

So there you have it - in limbo. How does one hire a PI?
posted by beezy at 7:03 AM on November 1, 2007

Also get the TRO because if the situation escalates and you were to have to defend yourself, having the TRO reinforces your defense. Think of it as a defense for escalation, you will have done everything you can to resolve the situation in a non-violent manner.
posted by zia at 7:20 AM on November 1, 2007

Please think twice before taking allkindsoftime's advice. If you're carrying a legal weapon, see someone you suspect wants to kill your husband, and blast him, it is indeed an open and shut case, but not in the way you want to hear. You'd be lucky to get off with manslaughter.

IANAL, and TINLA, but lethal self-defense requires an imminent threat of death or serious injury and no other safe option in almost every American jurisdiction. As in, he's coming at you with a weapon, and you can't retreat.
posted by electric_counterpoint at 7:32 AM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

To hire a PI, ask the detectives if any of their brethen who are retired are working as PI's, or talk to a large law firm. They have PI's they use regularly for their clients. Especially divorce attorneys.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:34 AM on November 1, 2007

Tasers are also illegal in DC, as are knives more than 3 inches in length and all butterfly knives and switchblades. You must apply for a permit in advance to carry mace or pepper spray, which the police can deny for any reason or no reason. Your weapons options are basically limited to knives too small to do any good.

District of Columbia Law. DC Code Ann. Title 6, Chapter 23. Firearms Control. Subchapter I. General Provisions 6-2302.

(7) "Destructive device" means:

(B) "Any device by whatever name known which will, or is designed, or may be readily converted or restored, to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant through a smooth bore barrel, except a shotgun."

(D) Any device designed or redesigned, made or remade, or readily converted or restored, and intended to stun or disable a person by means of electric shock.

Subchapter II. Firearms and Destructive Devices. General Provision 6-2311. Registration requirements:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, no person or organization in the District of Columbia ("District") shall receive, possess, control, transfer, offer for sale, sell, give, or deliver any destructive device, and no person or organization in the District shall possess or control any firearm, unless that person or organization holds a valid registration certificate for the firearm.

Subchapter V. Sales and Transfer of Firearms, Destructive Devices, and Ammunition. General Provision 6-2351. Sales and transfers prohibited. No person or organization shall sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of any firearm, destructive device or ammunition in the District except as provided in *** 6-2352, or 6-2375.

posted by decathecting at 9:40 AM on November 1, 2007

If you're carrying a legal weapon, see someone you suspect wants to kill your husband, and blast him, it is indeed an open and shut case, but not in the way you want to hear. You'd be lucky to get off with manslaughter.

Way to oversimplify. It's assumed that the poster would use said firearm responsibly, that is, only if he or she was truly in a life threatening situation.
posted by electroboy at 11:39 AM on November 1, 2007

Response by poster: Sadly, all true on the tasers, knives and blackjack in DC - stalker guy named a specific place where he was going to strike, which is in dc. The police advised against a gun, because it can be easily mishandled, doing more harm than good. (either turned against us, or us shooting ourselves, or the escalation of charges so we wind up getting in more trouble than the jackass with the threat)

So, we're all in limbo up in here. But thank you to everyone for your help - it's given me a lot to think about.
posted by beezy at 12:09 PM on November 1, 2007

If you're installing floodlights and going the TRO route you might also think of a few good surveillance cameras.

They won't stop Stone Cold Maniac Guy but if he's working his way up to mayhem, as many do, you may record evidence of him lurking, reconnoitering your place or otherwise violating TRO. Thus (possibly) giving you an opening to chill him out without violence.

Good luck.
posted by sacre_bleu at 12:34 PM on November 1, 2007

If a taser's out, then perhaps some recreational sporting equipment: baseball bat, 9 iron, etc.

Street legal, but handy.
posted by bhance at 5:00 PM on November 1, 2007

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