The Halifax Daily News
Thursday, June 4, 1998

Accused Net stalker lived above his target

by Brendan Elliot

"My name is Mistress Madra ... I'm 33, and VERY HORNY!"

Those were the first few words from an Internet newsgroup posting that resulted in a Bedford man being tagged with a July 8 date in front of a provincial court judge.

The 32-year-old man, whom police refuse to identify until he's formally arraigned, faces charges of stalking, public mischief, and spreading a false message.

Halifax regional police Sgt. Bill Cowper said a man was arrested May 26, after a woman reported a false posting had been placed on a newsgroup that provided her phone number along with a solicitation for phone sex.

Yesterday, The Daily News searched more than 25,000 newsgroups and found the message left in The subject heading was: Free Sex at Home.

Explicit message

The contents of the message were explicit, describing the victim as five-foot-four, petite, and with dark, silky skin.

"My husband left me, and now I have no one to get me off, can you help?" read part of the message.

Her legitimate Bedford phone number was also included.

A police source said the man they suspect was the author of the fictitious missive lived in the same 81-unit building at 91 Nelson's Landing as the victim.

"He was a tenant in the same building and lived immediately above her", the source said.

Building superintendent David Grugan, a retired RCMP officer, confirmed the man lives in the building but refused to reveal the suspect's name.

On the building directory, the name associated with the man's apartment referred to him as "occupant". There was no answer at the man's door yesterday afternoon. Neighbours didn't know the suspect's name.

Grugan said the man has lived in the building for about two years, and always paid his rent on time.

"He was a quiet kind of guy who kept to himself", the superintendent said, adding he thinks the man is a freelance writer.

"If he pleads guilty, or is found guilty, he deserves what he gets", the super said.

The police source said the suspect developed an infatuation with the woman and things progressed rapidly from there.

"In this particular circumstance, the woman was being inundated with harassing telephone calls, he had visited her apartment on a couple of occasions under some false pretenses, and he basically wanted to befriend her", the source said.

"The final straw was the Internet posting."

The woman recently separated from her husband, and she was living alone in the luxury complex. She called police after receiving several strange calls from men demanding phone sex.

"The problem was that she wasn't really connecting with what this man was doing", the contact said.

"The difficulty was that there was a cultural clash."

Moved out

"She's Lebanese and recently became a Canadian. Her cultural background is very different from what we are accustomed to, and she wasn't able to put two and two together", the source said.

The newsgroup posting revealed the man's Internet provider was Sprint, and he left the pornographic message March 3.

Grugan said the woman moved out of her unit at the end of April, and someone else now lives there.

The suspect still lives in his unit. "What you've got here is a stranger stalker, who happens to be a neighbour", said the police source.

While the woman is estranged from her husband, police sources are convinced he's in no way connected to the crime.

Copyright © 1998 by The Halifax Daily News. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.