Experience, when it comes to stalking I know I have more experience now than I did at one time in the past, and I am not sure how to explain it simply. So I checked Wikipedia for a definition, and it goes like this – “We gained knowledge or skill through involvement or exposure to a thing or event.” While the range of degrees of experience is quite large, I like this abbreviated definition, it seems to serve the purpose.
We (Steve and I) have been through a stalking, that ended with the murder of our youngest daughter. We experienced it from beginning to end.
Throughout this horrifying experience we thought we were being proactive. Many times one of the Sheriff’s Deputies or Detectives would comment on how they thought we were going overboard in what we were doing, in comparison with anything they had seen before. In our reality what we were doing was our very best to catch this person. The fact that it ended in failure should give us all pause. No parent wants to be in our position, and fail. No parent wants their child to suffer as Morgan did. They need to protect their child, they need help from others, and just how much, and when is completely unknown.
It is one thing to imagine a peeping tom, who is so transfixed at a young woman’s bathroom window, that the peeping tom does not know that the father of the young woman he is so horribly violating, is coming ever closer, and growing more livid with every step, until it is too late for this peeping tom – he is caught red-handed in the act.
A very old friend of Steve’s had a picture of a man who was caught, by the father of a victim of a peeping tom that was looking in the window at his daughter, and this peeping tom had obviously received a vigorous beating before he was cuffed, and brought in for his mug shot. A little instant justice, never enough until forgiveness can join in, but perhaps enough for the moment.
It is an entirely different matter when you know it’s happening and you run out an instant too late to find only air. Oh, there may be clues, shoe prints in the soil, freshly watered soil for just this reason, images on wildlife cameras, grainy video of a real live person, a glimpse of a dark figure rounding the neighbor’s house, foot trails worn into berms behind your house that can be seen from outer space on Google maps, showing trails that were never there before. Of course let’s not forget the scratching, knocking, and banging on the windows, or punching in numbers on the front door key code pad.
In our case a glimpse or physical evidence of Morgan’s stalker was rare, maybe one in every tenth instance, and never even coming close to her stalker being caught. We were left with just the knowledge that he was just there. Proof that your experience tells you – this was from her stalker. He was right there, not too long ago. And if you call in law enforcement and nothing improves, and it becomes basically the same thing, except instead of the two of us, there were now one, or two deputies alongside of us, standing there, right where he was, not too long ago. What are the chances you are going to catch him? When this is what happens every time, the chances are very slim.
There are jewelry thieves that can scale a building to a balcony, and gain entrance without a noise. They can defeat the elaborate security system, break into the safe, and exit with the goods, leaving only a safe door half-open, and not any other sign that they were there.
And there are those that will trip, and crash to the ground over paint cans in the garage, causing an intense clatter, knocking themselves unconscious in the process. There are all levels of skills in stalking, and stalkers, and be realistic about yours – really realistic. There is the stalker’s skill level vs. your skill level. And there also is your law enforcement’s skill level vs. the stalker’s. Not to be insulting or condescending, just take the time to be aware, it matters.
Sadly over the last year, and a half there have been few methods that I’ve seen succeed very often. Easily the most successful is an array of wildlife cameras, 4 or more, usually six. They can be wi-fi enabled or not. Be aware that the time to first exposure varies with brands and models. Five seconds may be the best you can find, but it is a long amount of time. Our oldest grandson could pretty much cover our lot from back to front in five seconds. You can compensate for the slow first image times by using more cameras. We never had more than two cameras up at one time, four if you count the Sheriff’s two. It was not enough. We had two images in three months, and the Sheriffs had none.
The wildlife camera images will not be the best, not prom night pictures by any stretch of he imagination. The images will have to be circulated to as many people as you can get to see them. It sounds amazing to me, but if you look at instances where an almost blurry picture is circulated openly, someone recognizes who it is in the image. A police department in a large city back east claims they have a 75% success rate with video surveillance images openly circulated to everyone.
Next is more of an idea, because we never tried it, but it seems logical. Where our video surveillance cameras were all mounted on our house, and aimed to cover an area along the house, Steve believes that it would have been better if we had gotten permission, and mounted every camera on a neighbor’s house, trained on one side, at most, of our house, ground to top of roof, 24/7.
Morgan’s stalker was a highly skilled hunter. Absolutely nothing wrong with hunting, but a highly skilled hunter possesses a skill set of concealment, stealth and knowledge that is formidable to counter. There is a famous FBI profiler that is of the opinion that if he had a set of suspects for a serial killing, and one was a trophy hunter, that would be his first suspect. This might also be because the serial killer he brought to justice lived in Alaska and had developed the pattern, or signature, of taking a women into the woods, releasing her, and then hunting her down like an animal. The theme of many horror movies and TV shows about crime – certainly not representative of the hunters in the world, far from it, just one man using a finely tuned skill set, and knowledge for all the wrong reasons.
On the day Morgan’s body was found it was declared a mystery by law enforcement. Rule number one of death scene investigation is that you must assume it is a homicide until proven otherwise. One and a half years later there are twenty unexplainable facts that point to an intruder in her room that night. Yet the Sheriff’s Department found no sign of forced entry on day one, and were completely satisfied with that. Why?
On the day Morgan died we did not realize there was much of anything wrong with her room. It was, quite simply, the last thing on our minds. Very obvious unexplainable facts came readily, within days after the crime scene tape was down. Others took an evening, with a really sharp investigator, who was experienced with putting together all the facts of a particular case. Steve and I were never asked a single question about Morgan’s room on day one of her investigation, as it turned out the only day of the investigation, so of course there was not much information assembled about her death.
And these twenty pieces are just the crime scene evidence. There are also eight pieces of forensic facts relating to Morgan’s case, which are completely backward from what is known by the scientific community, also pointing to an intruder. When they are testified to and cross-examined, I feel very strongly as to what the outcome will be. And it is so hard, because as the wheels of justice turn their slow turn, I am very anxious for that moment to come sooner rather than later.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, catching your stalker is the focus here. There is one thing stalkers almost can’t stop themselves from doing, they stalk and they will return to the same place over, and over again. Carrying with them an odd, almost unexplainable certainty they will not be caught. And guess what? Far too many times they are right about that, about not being caught.
An excellent expert on stalking correctly points out that “you know the place where the crime will be committed,” “you know who the crime will be committed against,” “Once you have a suspect, you must act, quickly.”
Depending on whose numbers you take, in one out of five stalkings there will be violence against the victim, and in one out of ten there will be injuries. Fatal injuries are next up. But why? When there is a suspect, and you know where, and you know who, it does not make sense that anything fatal should happen, except very rarely. But that is not how it works out. Extremely sad, but also true.
It is our reality, and the reality for so many stalking victims that they live an end that should not have had to happen, but they are not given the choice. Can awareness alone improve the odds? Of course, but I have an idea that three things are needed…awareness, plus protocol, plus full employment of the law. Stalking needs to be taken seriously – by everyone, especially law enforcement.
Experience tells me that catching the stalker is so important. Otherwise the end is a wound that may suddenly reopen someday. Be aware of this. Morgan chose not to run, because her stalker could just as easily have followed her, and then she would be forever looking over her shoulder in fear. Morgan decided to stay, that was not the problem. A lack of awareness, protocol, and full employment of the law was the problem. Both before her death, and after.
This started out as an idea or two on how to catch your stalker, and I have only given you one or two really good ideas on how to do that – there are many more. What I want to also give you is the awareness that your stalker must be caught, and preferably not by you. Stalkers rarely stop stalking. In Morgan’s memory I want people to more aware of the true dangers of stalking. I want to turn the tables on stalkers with protocols that have proven to be effective against stalkers, and all of the laws enacted to prevent these tragedies used to their fullest. How else do we expect to catch your stalker?