Wednesday, April 7, 2010


ESPN reporter Erin Andrews

The crazies out there
by Robert A. Waters

I picture the crazies hanging out in stuffy rooms surrounded by computers, cell-phones, TVs, and enough wiring to fry their brains. Although they don’t braid tin-foil around their skulls and listen for the signals of aliens, they can be dangerous.

Erin Andrews is a sports reporter for ESPN. Blond, with a girl-next-door look, she seems to be a magnet for weirdos. Maybe it’s because she gets to cozy up to sports celebrities, or maybe it’s just that look. A couple years ago, an obsessed drone began following her from hotel to hotel. Michael David Barrett, 49, somehow managed to rent rooms next to those occupied by Andrews. He drilled peepholes through the walls and doors, and video-taped her. Several videos of Andrews walking around in the nude were placed on the Internet. Barrett recently pled guilty to stalking and received two-and-a-half years in prison.

Now Andrews is receiving death threats. Meanwhile, she continues to try to pursue her career. She’s currently a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” and still appears on the sidelines to interview players. Even though the crazies keep coming at her like death-infected zombies, here’s hoping the girl next door will prevail.

In America, there’s a long history of celebrity stalkers.

Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by a certified crazy. Robert Bardo had been stalking her for years. Had the Puritans been around, he might have had an “L” for “Loser” carved on his forehead. Bardo couldn’t hold down a job and, according to one of his teachers, was a “timebomb waiting to explode.” Schaeffer had starred in the sit-com, “My Sister Sam,” and Bardo fancied that she was in love with him. He later wrote, “She came into my life in the right moment. She was brilliant, pretty, outrageous, her innocence impressed me. She turned into a goddess for me, an idol. Since then, I turned an atheist, I only adored her.”

He received an autographed photo of her through the mail, and it strengthened his obsession. Bardo built a shrine to her in his bedroom and continually fantasized about her. After her television series was canceled, Schaeffer appeared in a movie entitled, “Class Warfare in Beverly Hills.” In the film, she had a brief bedroom scene. Such infidelity enraged Bardo. He traveled by bus from Tucson to Los Angeles and tracked her down. When Schaeffer answered the door to her apartment, Bardo shot her. He later told police that the last word she said was, “Why?”

When a certified crazy strikes, there’s rarely a reason that normal people can understand.

John Hinckley called his attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan “the greatest love offering in the history of the world.” Another certified wacko who couldn’t hold a job and whose fantasies guided his life, Hinckley was obsessed with actress Jodie Foster. A nobody, he decided that he would have to become a “celebrity” in order to impress her. So he shot Reagan, press secretary Jim Brady, and two secret service agents. To the dismay of most Americans, Hinckley got off light. He ended up in an insane asylum and is now back on the streets.

Although no one knows for sure, it’s likely that Cedar Rapids, Iowa news reporter Jodi Huisentruit was stalked and kidnapped by a crazed fan. As the popular reporter left her apartment early in the morning of June 27, 1995, she was snatched. Her car keys, a pair of shoes, a blow dryer, a bottle of hair spray, and earrings were found near her Mazda Miata, signaling the aftermath of a violent attack. She has never been found, and the case remains unsolved.

They’re out there. Crazies. Thousands, tens of thousands, maybe more, waiting to strike. They’ll do anything for their moment in the spotlight. Even kill.

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