Inside the Mind of a Celebrity Stalker

In the relationship between celebrities and their public, there is always a delicate balance: Fans can admire, but they also have to keep their distance.

When this equilibrium is broken, it can be dangerous.

Icelandic pop star Björk learned this when an American fan sent her a bomb in disguise and then killed himself — leaving behind 22 hours of videotape.

For authorities on both sides of the Atlantic, this one man's obsession became a race against time. And for observers, like famed crime writer Patricia Cornwell, the man's tapes provided a rare window into the mind of a celebrity predator. Cornwell joined up with Primetime to take a look at the case.

The Last Day

On Sept. 16, 1996, the manager of the Van Buren Plaza apartment building in Hollywood, Fla., saw blood coming out of the walls under apartment A.

When police opened the door, they found a badly decomposed male body with red, black and green greasepaint all over the face.

There was a video camera set up in the direction of the body, and odd things written on the wall: "The best of me," and a slur against African-Americans.

Inside the camera, there was a videotape labeled "The Last Day." Several other cassettes were nearby. Investigators went straight to the last tape and confirmed the death was a suicide.

Then they went to the beginning, and found revelations that could ruin a young woman's life — as well as a case study in the transformation of fan into stalker.

Fan Into Fantasy

The body belonged to 21-year-old Ricardo Lopez. Lopez was the son of a middle-class family who came to the United States from Uruguay. He had lived most of his life in America, first in Georgia, then in Florida.

He was extremely bright but dropped out of high school to become an artist. To support himself, he worked part time for his brother as an exterminator.

As well as the videotapes, he left behind an 803-page handwritten diary — full of the musings of a young man embarrassed by his body and awkward around girls.

"This is how I feel now, but this isn't how I always felt," he said on one of the tapes. "Especially when I was growing up. I mean, I had hopes, and stuff like that, with women. Even though I was fat and this and that, but I still had hopes."

Lopez took refuge from his troubles by reading about the glamorous world of celebrities. At 18, he fixated on Björk after seeing a video of her. At first she was a muse, inspiring him to create art works dedicated to her. But soon, the fan drifted into fantasy.

Lopez recorded himself talking to the camera: "This gave me something, you know. Being in love, having an infatuation, is a euphoric feeling, and I was very happy. I had something to look forward to every day."

The diary shows how the fantasy eventually became more and more consuming, and how Lopez slowly became less and less anchored in reality.

Explosive Hate

Three years into his obsession, Lopez read that Björk had a lover — the black musician known as Goldie. Compounded by his bigotry, it lit a terrible fuse within him.

"I just had a deliciously sadistic plan for Björk," Lopez wrote in his diary. He went on to say how he'd like to he'd like to inflict his pain onto her.

Lopez constructed a bomb using sulphuric acid and placed it inside a hollowed-out book. When Björk opened it, he hoped, a trigger would hurl the acid all over her face.

He also forged a letter from her record company, telling her the book was for a future project.

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