TV and film star Morgan Fairchild once played the role of a stalking victim in the movie "The Seduction." And with the help of the LAPD stalking unit, Fairchild recently broke free of an obsessed woman.
"Different people who have had females stalkers who you tend to view as less threatening, in a certain kind of way, but they can absolutely be as lethal," said Fairchild.
The woman fixated on Fairchild believed the actress believed Fairchild was her mother and was making very personal contact, sending letters addressed to her home.
"It's not fun," Fairchild said. "Especially this day and age with the technology that is readily available to any weirdo on the street. You do get a little concerned about your safety and security."
What began as innocent postings on her Web site ended with cards, gifts, photos and handwritten letters that the LAPD says escalated its level of concern.
"I'm going to show up on your doorstep," Fairchild recalled the letters saying. "I'm going to fly across the country. You promised me you were going to pay all our bills and you haven't done it and now I'm hungry. So it was getting threatening."
Meloy says it's common for stalkers to believe they're somehow related to the celebrity. Experts say Robert Hoskins, one of the most dangerous on record, the man who scaled the security walls of Madonna's estate, tried to get to the singer, whom he believed was his wife, and was ultimately shot by her bodyguard.
"The thing that makes Hoskins so dangerous is … he believes [that] Madonna's spirit can inhabit anyone at any given time," said Dunn. "So if Robert Hoskins was walking the streets today and he decided that you or I were Madonna, we would be at grave risk. Very dangerous person. We've got to keep this guy in custody for as long as we can."
Meloy also says that celebrity magazines can play a role in making celebrities more appealing to stalkers.
"The more the magazines humanize the celebrity figure and point to their vulnerabilities and characterize them in emotional ways," said Meloy. "It can reduce the space between the celebrity and the stalker. Their personal space begins to vanish or evaporate."