California lawmakers might as well have been speaking of Mark Richard Hilbun when two years ago they approved a groundbreaking statute that made stalking a crime.
The former Dana Point mail carrier, who allegedly went on a shooting spree that left two people dead and three others wounded, began the rampage Thursday morning seeking out former co-worker Kim Springer, who for months had rejected his advances.
Authorities had been aware of Hilbun’s apparent obsession since last September when a complaint was filed against him for harassing Springer with repeated telephone calls. Prosecutors charged him with a misdemeanor but the case was dismissed three months ago when Springer, aware Hilbun was undergoing treatment for his manic depressive illness, elected not to pursue the matter.
But the unwanted attention hit a crescendo last week when the 39-year-old man left the last of a string of frightening notes: “I love you. I’m going to kill us both and take us both to hell.”
This week, Springer again went seeking the help of authorities when on Wednesday she completed an application for a restraining order against Hilbun but ironically did not plan to file it until Thursday because she did not have the necessary $182 filing fee, said Steve Eberhardt, the woman’s boyfriend.
By that point, Hilbun almost surely would have been subject to provisions of a law authored in 1990 by former state Sen. Ed Royce of Anaheim, according to a Sacramento legal expert who helped craft the bill. The law established stalking as a crime, making anyone subject to arrest for maliciously following or disturbing the peace of a person “with the intent of instilling fear or death or serious injury.”
“An individual really only has to make one credible threat for it to be stalking,” said Patricia Wynne, a legal counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The continual harassment coupled with the one credible threat qualifies it as the crime of stalking.”
Royce, who now serves in Congress, followed up with another bill last year that makes any subsequent stalking offense an automatic felony.
The stalking law, which was the first of its type in the nation and has become the model for similar statutes in other states, was one of several legislative efforts undertaken after the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer in 1989. Schaeffer, who co-starred in the television series “My Sister Sam,” was gunned down by an obsessive fan at the front door of her Los Angeles apartment.
Aside from Royce’s two bills, the Legislature approved a law authored by former state Sen. Mike Roos of Los Angeles that prohibited the Department of Motor Vehicles from releasing a driver’s address except to insurance companies or an individual’s attorney. Schaeffer’s assailant hired a Tucson private detective, who obtained the actress’s address using DMV files.
Royce, meanwhile, was encouraged by victims’ rights advocates and representatives of shelters for battered women, Wynne said. In addition, “the Hollywood community was very interested” in the bills, she said.
Before Royce’s legislation, victims of stalkers had virtually no swift legal recourse, Wynne said. Generally a victim would have to go to court and obtain a restraining order, a time-consuming legal process. “Now you don’t have to wait and go to court,” Wynne said. “The first time you have a problem you can call the police.”
The stalking law has been prosecuted successfully on several occasions. A male model was sentenced in Santa Monica in January, 1992, to three years in prison for stalking and threatening the teen-age son of the late actor Michael Landon.
But tragedy has resulted even in cases where a victim has tried to apply the law. In December, 1991, an 18-year-old Encino receptionist was fatally shot by her estranged boyfriend after she filed a stalking complaint. Scott Dyer shot Kymberly Ann Crabtree as she arrived for work less than two hours after deputies went to Dyer’s home and found him gone.
On occasion, victims have simply chosen not to seek legal recourse against a stalker.
Such may have been the case in Orange County when a distraught gunman in May, 1991, forced his ex-girlfriend from her Santa Ana home and, as she cowered on a front lawn, shot her in the head and then killed himself. Friends and neighbors of the victim, Barbara Darlene Blakely, told police that Fausto Grimaldi, 47, had been stalking the 27-year-old waitress for several weeks. A roommate had urged Blakely to seek help from the police or courts, but she never did.
Stalking also led to a 1988 office rampage in Sunnyvale that ended with seven people killed. The gunman, Richard Farley, went on a shooting spree at a high-tech firm where he met Linda Black, a fellow computer engineer who rejected his request for dates. Farley subsequently began stalking the woman and wrote more than 100 love letters.