When Deryk Whibley of Sum 41 received death threats – serious, “sophisticated” and wiped of fingerprints – from the stalker of his then-wife Avril Lavigne, he joined the unfortunate, and unfortunately long, list of stars suffering at the hands of particularly menacing obsessives. In an industry where sex sells, adoring followings are courted relentlessly and stars are encouraged to make Twitter and Instagram a window on their private worlds, fandom can increasingly tip over into delusions of ownership or non-existent relationships between stalker and star – just ask Joe McElderry, who had a fan break into his bathroom while he was in the bath to give him opera CDs. But while Noel Gallagher considered it an honour to have a “lunatic… breaking into hotels and… shouting under doors”, for most it’s a nightmare – here are the stars with the scariest stalker stories in recent history…
Amongst the worst celebrity stalking cases in recent history, Allen suffered a seven-year ordeal at the hands of Alex Gray, which began in 2009 with Gray emerging on a twitter account under the handle @lilyallenRIP and claiming to have written ‘The Fear’ and ended in 2015 when he burst into her bedroom while she slept, shouting “what have you done with my father?” In between, Gray had allegedly turned up at Allen’s home, management office, record company and even her sister’s shop to deliver letters and CDs of love songs, convinced that her album sleeve notes were personal messages for him. His letters and rants became so threatening and abusive that Allen had moved house and installed metal shutters on her new home – even after his arrest for the house-invasion, caught after he returned to the house to leave Lily’s burnt handbag on the bonnet of her car, Gray told police he intended to “cut her with a knife”. Gray was detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act, but unfortunately all evidence of Gray’s actions that Allen had given to police before 2015 was destroyed, so he may be free sooner than Allen had hoped.
Over nine months in 1996, Florida pest controller Ricardo López, having been obsessed with Bjork since 1993, made a video diary of eleven two-hour tapes documenting his feelings about the singer and her then relationship with Goldie. As his anger over the relationship intensified, he declared “I’m just going to have to kill her. I’m going to send a package. I’m going to be sending her to hell.” His original plan to send her a bomb filled with HIV-infected needles was abandoned as unfeasible – instead he made a sulfuric acid letter bomb hidden in a hollowed-out book and, on September 12, posted it to Bjork’s London address. He then returned to his apartment, shaved his head, painted it with red and green greasepaint and shot himself with a .38 caliber pistol to the sound of Bjork’s ‘I Remember You’, saying “this is for you”. Thankfully Bjork’s mail was vetted through her management’s office so the bomb was still en route when, four days later, Ricardo’s body and tapes were discovered by police and the package intercepted.
As marriage proposals go, the note handed to Madonna’s staff by drifter Robert Hoskins in 1995 threatening to slit her throat if she didn’t marry him was perhaps her least gallant. His case wasn’t helped by his numerous invasions onto her Hollywood estate, at one point being shot and wounded by her security after climbing the wall and jumping into her swimming pool. In 2012, Hoskins escaped from his psychiatric institution, reportedly with a plan to kill actress Halle Berry, but was captured in Long Beach after a huge manhunt. Meanwhile, Madonna’s stalker problems continued – in 2011 Grzegorz Matlok was imprisoned for breaking into her London home.
Although she publicly accused Perez Hilton of stalking her, Gaga’s most terrifying brush with stalkdom came in 2010, when Russian student Anastasia Obukhova sent her a letter proposing a suicide pact that Gaga wouldn’t have much say in. “You come to my dreams,” it read, “I want to die and I want to die together with you. I am not Mark Chapman. It is not only you who will die. I will shoot a bullet through my head too.” Things got hairier when Obukhova attempted to get backstage at a Gaga show – cue an instant restraining order. Lana del Rey had similar problems with two fans who would sleep outside her house, scream for her in the night and send her “nonsensical” letters threatening suicide and violence.
Doom metal old-timer Danzig has had his fair share of stalkers, but perhaps the scariest was the man who broke into the grounds of his Hollywood Hills house in 2005. His bodyguard chased him off the property but managed to rip his backpack from his as he fled – inside they found a diary with the words ‘Kill Danzig’ written next to that day’s date and hardcore pornographic magazines with the heads of both male and female models cut out and replaced with photos of Danzig. Safe to assume the guy didn’t just want his arse autographed…