Kim Springer says it all began so innocently, at a July 4th office outing to the Orange County Fair.
But postal worker Mark Hilbun didn’t want the evening to end. Within hours, the phone calls began. Then bottled water and odd gifts on Springer’s doorstep. Then love letters, followed by letters containing threats. And finally, she says, Hilbun left a message inviting her to bring popcorn and watch him commit suicide on the beach.
“He’d follow me everywhere I’d go,” Springer told the Orange County Grand Jury. “I mean, at one point it was like three or four times a day he’d show up. I told him to go back and do his route and deliver his mail. And once I slapped him. I didn’t handle it very well.” Investigators say it was Hilbun’s fixation on Springer, also a postal worker, that ultimately led to his murderous two-day rampage across Orange County.
On May 6, 1993, Hilbun had come looking for Springer at the Dana Point Post Office when he shot his best friend and wounded another postal worker. And before Hilbun was captured, his mother and her cocker spaniel were found killed.
Springer was unharmed that day, and has declined to talk publicly about her ordeal.
But grand jury transcripts recently unsealed offer the first detailed account of Springer’s months of fear and hiding as Hilbun pursued her.
Hilbun, 39, of San Juan Capistrano will face trial in February, 1995, on two counts of murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Denise Gragg, said she plans to concede that Hilbun is responsible for the crimes. But Gragg said she believes the evidence will prove Hilbun has long suffered from mental illness and was insane when the killings began.
According to the grand jury transcript, Hilbun’s rampage began at the Corona del Mar home where his mother, Frances, lived with her dog, Golden. Authorities say the dog’s throat had been “cut out” and Frances Hilbun was stabbed repeatedly.
Later, Hilbun arrived at the Dana Point Post Office, and investigators say he was intent on kidnaping Springer.
Prosecutor Bryan Brown told the grand jury that Hilbun was seeking revenge against postal officials who placed him on leave for his harassment of Springer, according to the transcripts.
Springer said that harassment had been relentless since July 4, 1992, the night she went to the fair with him. She said she alerted supervisors at the post office right away about Hilbun.
She changed her phone number twice because of his frequent calls and obscene messages. Her boyfriend tried to stop Hilbun from bothering her.
“I just kept doing my job and just kept saying just, ‘Mark, you know, just leave me alone,’ ” she testified.
Hilbun’s bizarre behavior contributed to his firing, according to the grand jury transcript.
On one occasion, Hilbun brought a bag of rabbits to work, which he threw at a co-worker. On another, he wore his underwear outside his uniform and danced wildly at his work station, the transcript related.
Hilbun’s stepsister, Jennifer Beneventi, testified that Hilbun told relatives he was going to marry Springer.
Beneventi also told jurors that Hilbun was enraged at postal officials and blamed them for his firing. Hilbun appealed the firing but lost the case April 19, 1993, just a few days before the shooting.
Springer told the grand jurors that postal officials had talked of transferring her and put her on leave for her own safety in the days before the shooting.
Two other employees, including the postmaster, were so fearful of the fired employee that they began arming themselves.
May 6 was Springer’s first day back at work.
That Thursday morning, Springer said, she had just taken a break when a startling noise pierced through the music she was listening to on a radio headset.
She heard screaming and turned around to see Hilbun, “with a bandanna around his face, waving a gun back and forth coming down the middle of our bay,” Springer said.
“I was dead up against the wall,” she said, describing how she tried to hide, hoping he had not checked her route assignment for the day. Such information would help him track her in the large building.
“If he knew what route I went out on, he would have seen me right away. I went under my mail case,” she told the grand jury. “He was calling my name.”