The Stalker

The Stalker by Lawrence E. Rogers

After attending a New York University seminar held in a downtown location, Ruth Davis walked back to her office unaware that she was being followed by a man. As she approached the front door of the office building, he suddenly appeared at her side, and he opened the door for her. “Thank you,” she said with a smile. He did not respond. Instead he focused his eyes on the front of her dress. She realized that he was reading her name tag which she had forgotten to remove when the seminar ended. The man disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. The next morning, Saturday, Ruth left her apartment for her weekly grocery shopping. She noticed the strange man sitting on a bench on the edge of a park located across the street from her apartment. The sight of this man made her feel uneasy. At the grocery store, she left her shopping cart at the end of an aisle that was crowded with carts. Ruth went down the aisle to pick up one item, and she returned to her cart. When she looked in the cart, she saw a frozen fish with its head in place and with its large eyes appearing to be looking up at Ruth. She jumped back in surprise and felt self-conscious. Had others seen her jump? She looked around and saw several aisles away the strange man watching her. Ruth began to push the cart in his direction intending to confront him, but he had retreated rapidly through the outer door of the store. Ruth had started to work just last month at a financial services firm in New York City. Her hometown was far away, and she had no relatives or friends in this new location. Ruth spoke to her apartment manager about the stalker. The manager said, “I can help you because I have a close friend who is a police lieutenant in this district. I’ll ask him to come talk with you.” Saturday evening, Lieutenant Tom Holmes, a middle-aged officer, came to see Ruth. He listened to her story and said, “I want you to telephone me if you see this man again. He has not committed a crime for which I can arrest him, but I can get him to identify himself and can order him to stop annoying you.” Sunday morning was such a lovely morning that Ruth decided to walk to church which was only three blocks from her apartment. As she prepared to cross the first intersection, she paused to allow an approaching automobile to turn the corner in front of her. The car stopped and blocked her path. The stalker jumped out and grabbed Ruth, dragging her toward the open door of his car. “Help! Help me!” Ruth screamed. She realized that she was in the hands of a man who was much stronger than she was. Three pedestrians — two men and a woman — were a half a block away. “Leave that girl alone!” the woman shouted. The men ran toward the attacker, but they got there too late. He shoved Ruth to the sidewalk, jumped into his car, and sped away. The three witnesses were assured by Ruth that she had not suffered any injury and that she would report the attack to the police as soon as she returned to her apartment. None of them, including Ruth, had been alert enough to get the license number or a good description of the car. One man wrote down his name and address and had the other two do the same. “The police will want to know if anyone witnessed the attack on you.” Upon returning to her apartment, Ruth telephoned Lieutenant Holmes who came immediately. “This man has committed a crime,” he said. “Now I can arrest him. You are in a dangerous situation. For the next three mornings, I will escort you to work. Perhaps, if this fellow is watching, he will see that you have police protection, and he will stop following you.” “The first thing I have been doing each morning is to go for a jog in the park across the street,” Ruth said. Lieutenant Holmes interrupted her. “Do not think about jogging tomorrow or any other day as long as you are in danger from this stalker.” All went well on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday when Holmes drove Ruth to her office. On Thursday, Ruth got up early and decided to go for a jog in the park. “Lieutenant Holmes will never know about this,” she said to herself. Ruth had been running for only two or three minutes when she perceived that she was alone in the park. It was a cloudy and chilly day so the usual people who came to the park in the morning had stayed home. Ruth started to return to the safety of her apartment when she saw him emerging from a wooded area and running toward her. He was between Ruth and her apartment. Ruth began running at top speed to get away, but she could see that he was gaining steadily. She knew he was far stronger than she was; she realized he was also much faster. Her only chance was in being more agile than he was. She stopped running. As he approached her at top speed, he lifted his right arm preparing to strike a blow. Ruth saw some type of weapon in his hand which he swung toward her head. She dodged the blow, causing him to lose his balance. Ruth aimed a kick at his head with all her strength. Her foot struck him in the middle of his face. He fell to his knees using his two arms like poles to prevent his upper body from collapsing to the ground. Blood began to gush from his nose. While Ruth ran toward her apartment, she looked back to see him still trying to recover from her kick. Thank goodness, Ruth thought, for that Women’s Self-Defense course that I took last year. Several police cars came in response to Ruth’s 911 telephone call. After she described the attack and the attacker, one police officer stayed with her to complete an official report while other officers went to search the area. Lieutenant Holmes arrived about ten minutes later. He was upset with Ruth. “Young lady, didn’t I tell you not to jog?” he said to her. “Why did you ignore my warning? Come with me to show me exactly where this attack occurred.” At the scene, Holmes bent over for a close look over the ground. He looked at, but did not touch the weapon that the stalker had dropped. He observed the pool of blood on the ground, and he turned to look at Ruth to assure himself that this was not her blood. Two other officers nearby were instructed by the lieutenant to call in the Evidence Collection team. Back at Ruth’s apartment, Holmes spoke bluntly, “You had a narrow escape today. The weapon that man used was a long metal bar with extremely sharp edges. You would have been killed or would have suffered brain damage if this weapon had split open your skull. Your kick may make this man more determined than ever to hurt you. We are going to protect you.” The lieutenant continued to speak, “Tomorrow morning a police officer will escort you to work. I have secured permission to lend you a new police radio that will enable you to summon help much faster than by use of a telephone. You press this large button and talk into the unit as if you had dialed 911 on the telephone. As soon as you press the large button, a police dispatcher will be listening to the words you speak.” He gave the police radio to Ruth who put it into her purse. On Friday morning Ruth was ready when the police officer rang her doorbell. She opened the door wide and said, “I just need to go back to the bedroom for my purse, and I will be with you.” The police officer stood in the open doorway. Ruth picked up her purse and looked down the hallway from the bedroom in time to see the stalker striking the police officer over the head. Ruth withdrew the police radio from her purse, pressed the large button, and began shouting, “Emergency! Emergency! Police officer needs help!” She repeated her address twice. The stalker heard her shouting into the radio. He started to move toward her. She slammed and locked the bedroom door. The bathroom entry was through her bedroom. She slammed and locked the bathroom door. Ruth opened the bathroom window and climbed out on the window sill. She could hear the noise of the stalker breaking down her bedroom door as she jumped into the soft flower garden beneath her first floor window. While she ran toward the front of the apartment building, Ruth turned to look back and saw the stalker leaning out the bathroom window. Less than a minute after her call for help, sirens from police vehicles could be heard. Ruth was astonished by the number of police officers who came. The first officers to arrive followed Ruth’s directions and rushed into her apartment. They found their fellow officer unconscious and bleeding. The stalker had left the building by a back door. With several officers at her side, Ruth looked down the street and pointed to a mailman getting into a mail truck. “That is the stalker!” she exclaimed. Officers ran toward the mail truck, but could not get to it before the stalker sped away. One officer went into the building from which the mailman had emerged. “The real mailman is injured and needs an ambulance!” he shouted. “His uniform was stolen.” Police had alerted all cars about the stalker in the mail vehicle and within a few minutes the stalker was in custody. “Your alertness in identifying the stalker in the mailman’s uniform prevented him from escaping,” an officer said to Ruth. A group of officers headed by Lieutenant Holmes brought the captured man to Ruth for her identification. “Yes. This is the man who tried to kill me,” she said. Lieutenant Holmes observed a look of hatred directed toward Ruth. At the preliminary hearing in court and at the trial many months later, Holmes was disturbed to see the same look of bitter hatred directed at Ruth. At police headquarters, officers found the story of the stalker’s life to be a familiar one. There was no father in the home in which he was reared. His mother was an uncaring person. The stalker had a long record of arrests as a juvenile delinquent and as an adult criminal. “Why did you want to hurt this particular young woman?” Lieutenant Holmes asked him. The reply was that his probation officer had suggested that he read his horoscope each day. The horoscope on the first day that he saw Ruth had stated, “An attractive person you will see today will not become a close friend.” In his confused way of thinking, he interpreted the horoscope to mean that this person would be his enemy. The attractive person he saw was Ruth. Ruth’s parents had spent the week of the stalker’s trial in New York with their daughter. After the stalker was found guilty by the jury, Lieutenant Holmes spoke privately with her father. “I have prepared an envelope containing all of the information I have been able to gather about the stalker. Take this envelope home with you and put it in your safe deposit box. This man will serve a long sentence in prison because he nearly killed a police officer who was assigned to protect Ruth. The stalker now directs his hatred at Ruth more than at any other person. I believe that when he gets out of prison, he will try to find your daughter. If the stalker comes near her again, show this information to the local police. They will immediately understand the importance of protecting your daughter.” At the airport on the day that Ruth’s parents were leaving for their hometown, Ruth said to them, “I never have to worry again about the stalker.” “Yes,” her mother replied. “Everything is safe for you now.” Ruth’s father felt in his coat pocket to be certain that he had in his possession the packet of information prepared by Lieutenant Holmes