Where'd Todd Go?...
On Dealing With Psychopaths and Stalking
Chapter 1 - "ARE YOU GOING TO BE ALRIGHT?"
"A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?"
Just before my mom died of cancer some years ago in June of 2007, she asked me: Are you going to be alright...with the SKYWARN thing, I mean?
I remember feeling caught off-guard. I stared at the ground, my mouth kinda hanging agape. I suddenly found myself fighting this overwhelming urge to let loose. Catching myself, I closed my mouth, looked back up at her face, and smiling I said "Yah. Sure. I'll be fine. I'll be alright. You know me. I'm way stronger than those assholes." I feigned a chuckle.
I was in her room at Haven-Hospice, standing next to her over her bed. She was struggling laboriously to breathe through the O2 mask. She wasn't too much longer for this earth...and I knew it; it was just a matter of time. She died just a few days later. It was the last real conversation that I'd had with my mother. After this, she went into a days-long coma and then she died. I never really got to prepare. I never was able to get in my good-bye. With all of the insane things that were all going on at the same time - including having to deal with the insensitive hams who were stalking me even up to the time of my mother's death (and after) - I'd felt ripped off of that moment.
...My mom had days left; she was in so much god-awful pain; she was about to die and she knew it...and all she was concerned about in that moment wasn't of herself; but of me.
...I lied, though. ...Straight through my teeth, I lied. I wasn't strong; I was a fucking wreck. I was scared to death. ...And I knew damned well that she knew I was hiding it, too.
I had no idea what was going to happen. I had no idea if this would ever be resolved, if I'd ever get my name back, if the Alachua County SKYWARN program would ever see the light of day again. I had no idea if the stalking and the harassments would stop. Six... No. Seven (that I can remember) local hams had...done things...gone way too far...put the lifestyles and careers of many people at risk because of what they had done. Everything was destroyed, and my name was left in ruin. ...Everything that I had worked so hard on over the many years...laid waste. In my life, all I've ever wanted to do was help people. I did that. ...I guess a little too well. Some people in ham radio circles became jealous and continually tried to think of ways to get me "out of the way."
There is no real or effective SKYWARN program here in Alachua County anymore now because of what the hams had done - aside from just a web page that I try to keep current for people, now. The Weather Service loathes coming back here again to do any more spotter classes or presentations because they are too afraid of the things that have happened down here, and too disgusted to sort it all out or to deal with all the questions that they don't want to be forced to answer. ...And with good reason. And so far, as far as I know -- and the signs come from the long, hard stares that I get from some of the instructors, and the smart-assed comments that they sometimes make about me in front of others sitting in the classroom -- they still believe that I was the problem; not the hams.
...And all that I had ever done, was sit at home...and watch it all happen, out of my control - and there was nothing that I could do. ...Nothing. I had no control. (sigh) I had NO control.
Many have wondered what happened to me these past number of years.
...Stalking, harassment, harassment of friends, of family, bullying, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, other computer crimes, threatening of my friend's careers (by Jay Lieberman/KE4FER), threats vague, implied, indirect and direct of harm, to keep my mouth shut (by Scott West/KG4VWD, and Phil Royce/KE4PWE), of meeting me in "dark alleys" (Phil Royce/KE4PWE), people creating accounts in my name and using them to send me harassing emails (Melissa Royce/KE4WBQ, possibly Phil, too), threatening messages left on my answering machine (Scott West/KG4VWD, Melissa Royce), scary songs left on my answering machine (Melissa Royce/KE4WBQ), hacking of the AC-EMWIN server (Jeff Capehart/W4UFL) and the resultant perusal of the federally-protected "Personally Identifiable Information" (PII) contained within it - of customers of the Alachua County EMWIN Project, another public service project that I ran. And during one Skywarn-related meeting to talk about the possibility (POSSIBILITY) of incorporating AC-SKYWARN into a 501(c)(3) org, Chris McVey demanded I make him the first President or else, he promised ominously, he would talk to people in Emergency Management and NWS circles and "do everything I can to destroy your reputation and credibility with them." Jeff himself kept a dark secret from everyone around him. He was a past criminal; an ex-con who, along with his then girlfriend Susan Tipton/K9PDL, had been convicted of hacking University of Florida computers before. All except Jay Leiberman had actually committed some form of a cybercrime in order to harass and stalk me.
And not a one single cop did one single thing to help me whenever I filed an official complaint.
You know, when celebrities are stalked, they're stalked by maybe one individual. ...At least, one at a time, anyway. ...Usually. But good God...
...I was stalked by seven...simultaneously...sometimes in coordinated, tag-team fashion. One would stop, and another would take over. Sometimes they'd double-team me, or triple-team me. They were relentless, and merciless. ALL were ham radio operators, and either Members or Associate Members of both the Gainesville Amateur Radio Society and the University of Florida's Gator Amateur Radio Club, as well as being concurrent members of some form of Emergency Management and/or Red Cross program or another such as CERT, or ACFR Reserves, or the ACFR ham radio club, or something. They all served in public service activities in some fashion or another, such as providing communications for local walks or runs, or in shelters during local emergencies. This helped to provide a form of alibi which itself provided an invulnerability if ever their integrity was questioned. Doing anything to make these people stop was exceptionally difficult because they had the ear and cooperation of people in important places.
There were threatening e-mails (Scott West, Melissa Royce). There was e-mail bombing (Scott West), and pager bombing (Scott West). ("Bombing" involves overloading of your email and/or pager/cellphone with messages, so much so that your mailbox quota can be filled, or your communications are disrupted. You can also end up with excessive charges on your bill as a result.) Malicious gossip and rumor was spread around strategically to various important places and public officials, and to many people in the general public, resulting in the disreputation of my name and that of Alachua County SKYWARN, and a total destruction of any opportunity for any further civilian-run spotter programs in this county or ANY county across the entire NWS-JAX County Warning Area. They created duplicate impersonating accounts in Yahoo and Facebook for Alachua County SKYWARN (Melissa Royce), and even as recently as February 2010 created a duplicate account in Twitter (Melissa Royce). Those accounts serve no actual functional purpose, are never used, do absolutely nothing, nothing is ever posted to them and they are completely blank. And yet confused, unknowing people continue to subscribe to them and I've not been able to get Melissa or Emergency Management (the agency responsible for her at the time and under whose power she created them) to remove them. In February, 2009, one of my stalkers hacked into our EMWIN server (Jeff Capehart), perusing logs which contained names, email addresses, telephone numbers...otherwise known as "PII" or "Personally Identifiable Information" of those who had subscribed to our free weather alerts dissemination program. When personally asked WHY he did it, Jeff responded "BECAUSE YOU WERE PISSING ME OFF!!! YOU WOULDN'T DO WHAT I WANTED!!!" (The story is elaborated upon more later in this blog.)
"...You wouldn't do what I WANTED?" Oh my god! That's so..."Mitnik!" That's how Kevin Mitnik acted when he couldn't get what he wanted sometimes from his victims. (sigh)
...And every time I went to anyone in authority, I was treated like I was being ridiculous. The police and other authorities actually became a hindrance, actually interfered, got in the way, and both deliberately and accidentally (through incompetent carelessness and/or outright refusal to believe me) sabotaged any cases that I had filed or attempted to file. (This includes GPD, UPD, ACSO, and the local State Attorney's Office.)
My harassers knew too many people, participated in too many public service activities, were looked up to by everyone, and I...was just some idiot who was "picking" on them, as the blaming decry went. The bullies never had to prove anything, nor explain anything. On the other hand, I had to have "proof" of everything or no one wanted to give it any serious attention at all. The police would generally (and conveniently) describe the situation as a "turf war" - even though I was a non-participant and it was all one-way. Once they had done that, they used it as excuse to blow it all off. Once police departments label your situation as stupid, you're done for. You can forget it. ...And they all back each other up, too.
If they make a mistake in investigating, they'll lie, they'll "forget", they'll deny even having talked to you about some things, or that some conversations ever even happened. Because once they realize that what you were complaining about was actually REAL, and that they guessed wrong about you, and that their ignorance of your situation actually ended up causing you further harm that could have been prevented by them, then they go into a denial mode to protect themselves. They buddy up and support each other with lies, and exaggerations, denials, and misplaced or deliberately uncollected evidence. They don't want lawsuits, and bad press attention, or embarrassment, reprimands, or destroyed careers. Lawsuits and criminal charges would mean a courtroom. A courtroom would mean a mandatory investigation. An investigation would prove that what I'm talking about herein actually happened, and in so doing, serve to legitimize my case...and they don't want that. And in considering just how badly people acted and just how far people went, the Press would really have a huge field day with all of this. It would make the national news.
I mean...seriously: four levels of government, eighteen government agencies, eight police departments (including the FBI and Naval Criminal Justice), four civilian organizations (including a national one called the National Association for Amateur Radio [ex ARRL]), and two private investigating companies ended up getting involved, all told.
The Press loves conspiracy theories, and "Big Brother" picking on the little guy...and it would be handed to them on a silver platter by the very same people who were supposed to be out there to protect us.
So they all cover themselves, and in so doing, the innocent victim ends up becoming the bad guy..."for the good of the many", "for the good of the whole." You, and your plight, become sacrifice. Now you're a liar. Now you're a lunatic. You're labeled. Cops write up the reports to make you sound like you were crazy. They leave out important details about your interaction with them in the reports ("tampering", "making a false statement", "destruction of evidence")...things like conversations had, requests made, calls made, emails sent, actions they were supposed to take but didn't. Inexplicably they all disappear.
All of this...has happened to me.
The song once left on my answering machine was weird. "...WHY don't you just BREEEEAK down!...".1 It had been left by someone who had used a false Caller ID, which indicated that it had supposedly been sent from a Comfort Inn located off of Archer Road here in Gainesville (in the area behind the Target store). The lyrics when sung completely out have a completely different and very innocent context. However, considering what was happening at the time, I knew that the message that was left was meant in a much more dark and sinister way by the person leaving it. When you consider how it was left and that the CID was falsified, no one will argue with me there. The part that was left on my machine was the last part - the last two paragraphs. It wasn't an accident. It was a message...that some smart ass had edited and crafted specifically for me. When I called the hotel and asked if they had any record in their logs of any calls being made to me from their number, they checked and found no such record. Was the hotel clerk in on it? Was she lying? Was she responsible; or perhaps covering for somebody she knew? Was I being ridiculous to even suspect the hotel clerk like that? Was I being overly paranoid?
I had no idea at first how anyone could even get away with something like that without being - I dunno -- an employee of the phone company? an officer of the law? -- with access to specialized electronic equipment located within what would have to be agencies such as the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, or some other law enforcement agency? But I mean, devices such as these would be held behind locked, secured doors...with keycard- or passcode-controlled access. Right? And wouldn't they keep a log of who accessed this equipment, too?...of who used it, how long it was out, who brought it back, and how it was used? Wouldn't you think that there'd be a video camera to record who accesses the room? I mean, Otherwise...who the hell would have access to the seemingly illicit equipment required to do such a thing as that?
Pfbt! Oh c'mon! That's the movies, people. They don't protect stuff to that degree, they don't keep track of who accesses specialized equipment like they do in 'Mission Impossible'. They should. But they probably don't.
I have no idea how GPD, or ASO, or whoever else who owns dangerous equipment such as that actually handles their security; but somehow, I seriously doubt that they keep it as tightly secured as I suggest, above. And if there was just one bad cop with access to it...that's all that it would take.
THAT BEING SAID, I don't think that this came from stolen or illicitly-used police equipment. I doubt it. Too risky.
Believe it or not that particular theory came from Jeff Capehart himself, actually. Amazing thing...how Jeff always seems to have the low-down bead on who the "vermit" might be. Jeff had a theory that it might be someone who worked at the local sheriffs office; and he even named him by name...
One of my harassers - Philip Royce - works for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office. He installs and fixes mobile unit radios. He's the "Lead Equipment Installer", or something like that. He didn't like me because I once told his wife Melissa to stop calling me all the time. He'd openly bragged to numerous hams that I should "watch out" and that I "better hope (he) doesn't meet (me) in any dark alleys", and things like that. Jeff wondered if it might have anything to do with him. ...Because see, Phil's wife, in violation of cyber stalking laws, had already once sent me a harassing email by forging my name to create a Yahoo account.
But what made Jeff think it might be him was another incident that occured in years before, during a local hamfest that GARS had put on. Something about a local ham had a food stand. He had had an earlier argument with Phil about something. Phil was pissed at him. Then suddenly health inspectors show up at his food stand wanting to inspect his operation. Apparently someone had made a phone call, using a computerized female voice, with what turned out to be a falsified CID. They said the person who had reported the violation was a "Susan Tipton". Jeff said that he thought that since Phil worked for the Sheriffs Office he therefore might have had access to special equipment there to in order to perpetrate it. He said that Susan was pissed off about it and wanted to find out who had done it because they had used her name. I found it odd to be listening to someone who himself was a criminal complain about something that had been done to his wife, who had also been a criminal, that he considered to be "unfair". Oh ... my ... GOD! Are you freaking KIDDING me??? I actually found the story kinda satisfying, to be completely honest, considering what everyone had been doing to me, mostly at Jeff's own suggestion and direction.
So Phil's family does kinda have a history of this sort of stuff - with me, anyway. But it was just guessing. I mean, sheesh! You're accusing the Sheriffs Office of all things now, here!
But you know?...that's how this stuff goes, though. That's what it does. ...Paranoia. ...Suspicion. ...Guessing. ...Accusations. ...Innocent peoples' lives destroyed.
But no. I don't think "fancy equipment" had anything to do with it. At least, not in the SO's possession, anyway.
Then I rented a movie recently called Untraceable, and I lost my breath when Diane Lane's character discussed something called a "SpoofCard" [http://www.spoofcard.com]2, which allows people to call others up using a false CID, and to use computer-generated voices in male or female choices, and to harass innocent people.
Detective Box: "(*sigh*) Looks like....Looks like Griffin was baited (*sigh*) with a phone call. But we can't trace it because it was made with uh...a 'SpoofCard?'"
Agent Marsh: "Yeah, it's a phone card. It costs about ten bucks an hour. Let's you program any Caller ID you want."
My eyes got wide. I paused the movie. I stood up and put my hand to my face in sudden angered realization. I immediately looked it up on the web. It's real. It actually exists. It's not just some writer's imaginary suspense tool. This was the tool that the Royces actually used. ...And what really bugs the crap out of me is that most police departments don't seem to know about them, or know enough yet to even go there in their thinking process. To make things worse, there's no "tagline" at the end of the phone calls that are made with those things. You know, like "Congratulations! You've just been spoofed by SPOOFCARD.com!...YOU'RE place to go for the BEST practical jokes!" So when the call is done you have absolutely no idea that that phone call actually COULD have been investigated simply by going to Spoofcard.com and asking them for phone records for a specific date and time to see if the call originated from them. And nowadays there are even more of those types of companies out there. So far, there hasn't been any objection from legislators and there are no current laws against the use of stuff like this at this time. It's very real, though. It really does exist. And there's nothing that you can do about it, apparently. If people want to use it to harass you, they can...without check.
I have been in hiding from these scary people, trying to stay out of their way, and they would still attack. If I wasn't available directly, they'd just go after my friends, or my associations, or my public service-related contacts. They wrote letters. They emailed. They texted. The used the telephone. One was going to try to destroy my best friend's career in the Navy through the use of false information designed to make the Navy think that she was a some sort of an extreme security risk - a vague implication that she might be a terrorist! ...Just to get at ME! I lost friends and acquaintances because so many different people were simultaneously attacking me and any people who associated with me - even my business-related associations. ...And they disassociated with me, not because I was a problem, but because it was dangerous to associate with me, and to associate with me might mean that they too might become targeted, and/or, their families. This was not incorrect or failed logic, it was prudent and very accurate precautionary thinking; and sadly, there was nothing I could do about it. They were absolutely, 100-percent correct to react this way, and I knew it. I knew it. There was nothing I could do. It devastated me.
I found some interesting song lyrics myself, though. Came upon it while watching the movie The Shooter on TNT, I think was. It's called "Nasty Letter", and it's by Otis Taylor...
Somebody wrote me a nasty letter,
But they didn't sign their name
I think I know, I know who wrote it
Well I recognize, recognize that hand
It's getting warm
Oh so warm
It's so warm
On a winter's day
I'm reading backwards, reading backwards,
On this page
Hoping to defend
If the devil come
I've been wrongly, wrongly accused
Been wrongly, I've been wrongly,
I've been wrongly, wrongly accused.
How odd, how perfectly it seemed to fit not just my cyberstalking situation, but my entire stalking and harassment situation...everything happening to me because some people wrote some emails, and said some really nasty, false things.
I cried a lot; repeatedly. And I didn't have anybody to go to. My mom had just died. My family was gone. My friends were hiding. My car had just been totaled because someone was driving on a license that had been suspended due to a previous DWI, and suddenly I was having to rush around in a rental car to find a replacement so that I didn't lose my job. At the same time, that job often required me driving up to 200 miles away to do surveys for the Census Bureau[see note]. I was doing double-time hours to try to stay ahead in the midst of the loss caused by having to rent a car for two weeks while trying to find a replacement auto. I have to say that the Census Bureau really helped me out during a very super horrific time for me. They did what they could to actually help me in a dire situation, and I was very grateful. They asked if I needed some time off, but I actually needed MORE hours to keep afloat; so they tried to accommodate me by giving me twice the normal caseload. But the double hours and mileage meant nearly no time to myself. I had a funeral to arrange, a eulogy to write, a remembrance video to put together, a replacement auto to find. I suddenly had old tax and other documents to go through, two tax returns to research and file, and a sudden executorship and last-minute unhandled final affairs with numerous companies to handle which Mom had not taken care of. I had all of this to worry about...all at once. Meanwhile Jeff was taunting me with Scott while at the same time he belittled my situation and tried to make me feel like I was an asshole for suggesting that he lay off and that having to deal with all of that was quite a lot for someone. (I still have that email.) He acted like an especially insensitive asshole during that time. Everybody did. I was literally getting NO sleep because every moment of my god damned days were being taken up for a good many months. ...And all the while, these guys were cruelly playing games and toying with me! I had to deal with it totally alone, by myself, and give my OWN consoling. I can tell you from experience that dealing with all of this was NOT easy and I would never wish anything like it upon anyone else. My stalkers had ZERO sympathy, ZERO emotional understanding, and didn't care about any of the hardships that I was having to go through. They just wanted to destroy, destroy, destroy...at all costs. There was no other agenda. Just...DESTROY. ...EVERYTHING. These are some really scary people.
If you have to deal with stuff like this for long enough, what happens to you is that your entire mission in life becomes just to find normal people...so desperately just to find normal people...normal people to be normal friends. You end up crying to yourself, asking, "Why can't I have NORMAL friends? ...WHY?" ...People who mean what they say, who will stand BY you, who won't betray you when the crunches come, whom you can trust and share your secrets with without fear that they'll try to use them against you...people who like you for you and not because you have something they want or because they want to try to use you for something they think that they can suck off of you - like some form of attention or fame or spotlight that they may even see you as "hording" from everyone else. Things like honesty, loyalty, integrity, honor, chivalry...these otherwise normally non-significant things suddenly start to matter to you a lot; and you start to look for those qualities in people; and suddenly everyone is on probation and everyone is being analyzed. Suddenly, you also begin to realize just how quickly people really are ready to sacrifice one another, and just as suddenly you also begin to doubt in people, and you lose a lot of faith. That's what this does to you. Suddenly the whole world becomes a much darker place and your emotions drop and you come to a crossroads: Do I give up completely? or do I keep moving forward and onwards...believing in myself and standing up for what I believe in...no matter what? NOW the world is a giant test...in your strength, in your character, and in your belief in your own self.
I will confess that on a number of occasions I actually thought about buying a gun and putting it to my head. They were that bad; and I was that badly depressed as a result of the things these people were doing. Everything in my life was upside-down. People were harassing and stalking me, and the police wouldn't help me, and would actually make fun of my situation. All around me, my friends were running away because they didn't want to be attacked for associating with me. EM and NWS were actually led to believe that I was a real problem, and no one wanted to talk to me. What do you do in a situation like that? What do you do?
I eventually came around, though. I always come around. I'm too damned stubborn and strong. I don't like bad people winning. I always get back up. It's just not in me to accept bad situations and just let the inevitable happen like some stupid deer in headlights if I can help it. People may successfully get me down for a time; but for some odd reason I always come out of it and - like a dumbass rushing straight into the bullets - I get right back up and I do what I can to alter my situation, and to try to improve it. There is always a way. Sometimes you just have to sit back and think about it. Sometimes, it takes a while to realize. There's always something you can do; something you can use. I'm patient. I always find it.
Meantime, having good people around you is important. In your life you should always seek out the strong, good-hearted people, and keep them close to you. In my situation, though, the people who had claimed to be my friends were dropping like flies. Only one remained. Though it was stressed by what was going on, that friendship still remained, regardless.
Some times, you'll think you've found some decent people. But most, you'll be wrong, and end up disappointed and distraught, because these dark people tend to surround themselves with dark people - people who are sometimes even darker than they are. They'll even con other people into believing that you're the dark one, and then you'll end up finding yourself battling endless lines of newer and newer people who gullibly believed them. For every gullible person that you knock down, the dark people have a way of endlessly drawing upon more gullible people who are willing to believe in them and become their servants. You can knock down ten thousand...but "Saruman" (so to speak) just has another one hundred thousand hiding in the darkness, somewhere. ...And they just keep coming. Finding real friends...is not possible in such a world, because you don't know who to trust, and because the legitimate people often end up scared away after being attacked too many times.
You end up standing all alone, by yourself. Where do you find consolation in such a situation? Where do you find strength? Where do you find encouragement? All lame poetry and writings aside which would otherwise lift your spirits, the absolute truth is...without really good friends who are willing to stand by you no matter what (and most all of mine ran for the hills out of fear of attack or retribution by my stalkers), there IS nothing. It's all on you...alone.
I keep this poster above my desk in my office here at home...
...I came upon it while perusing Michael's one day with my girlfriend. They just had it out there on display. I suddenly stopped and stared and then some tears started coming down my face. She asked me what was wrong. "Look at the poster!", I said. "...What does it SAY?" She began to read the words beneath it. "No" I said. "I meant look at the picture itself. What is that? That's me! That's my life! That's what's going on...right now...no words needed. ...The harassments, the stalking, the problems, me standing in the middle of it all, and not being able to do a damned thing about it; but still standing there, nonetheless. It says everything without having to say anything at all." We stared at it a little more. Then I read the words beneath, and the words said exactly what I already saw in the picture. We took it home.
The picture depicted in art the situation of someone standing in amidst a scary, threatening sea, rock-bounded in place with no where to go, nowhere to hide, with the seeming power of GOD happening out of control all around him, and not being able to do a damned thing about it. It to me seemed to show someone in the midst of God-awful-scary situations, with the entire world seeming to be threatening him all around, and attacking at his foundation. And yet, it depicted that person still standing there, nonetheless, and the most important part - still carrying out the more-important mission regardless of it all - and trying to do something to protect the people.
The picture is reminder to me to not let what these people did get to me, to stand strong, no matter what happens. It is reminder for me to keep on truckin' on, no matter what they throw at me. It is reminder to keep my morals, my values, my ideals, my wits, and my sanity. It is reminder that I am better than the bad people, and that while everything in my immediate world seems to be going so badly, I've still got my my cats, my teddy bear, my good looks, my girlfriend, my sense of humor, I'm still surviving, and I hold on to the hope that other people can still see what is really going on. But in reality, that's actually doubtful because of the immense control that the bad people seem to hold on others. Still, I see this poster every day, and it allows me to continue.
Oh and, if you're wondering who the artist of the painting is...his name is Steve Bloom. Thank you, Steve, for the right-on, perfect sentiment.