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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Stalker had sophisticated cyber plan
By Lucy Wilkins
BBC News Online

One computer, five phones and a sophisticated plan for stalking were used by cyber stalker David Cruz to harass his friend.

Cruz's six months of stalking Chloe Easton by e-mail, internet and text messaging was cut short by his arrest in May last year.

David Cruz sent up to 30 "disgusting" text messages

On Tuesday the American was jailed for five months at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, bringing an end to a one-year police investigation.

The investigation also revealed Cruz harassed another woman with threatening and malicious e-mails, in breach of a restraining order taken out against him in March 1999.

Cruz was also ordered not to go within 100 metres of Ms Easton or her parents or to a series of sporting venues where she runs competitively.

But District Judge Mr McPhee made no recommendations in response to a Crown application to have Cruz deported to the US.

Detective Sergeant David Clubley, in charge of the case, said the court had granted a police request for Cruz's computer and phones to be seized, for later use in showing how successful police investigations into cyber stalking have been.

"He had a five-point plan on stalking, everything was planned, and nothing was left to chance. It was all calculated," Det Sgt Clubley said.

Confidante

His victim was a young woman he met through mutual friends. While she confided in him during a difficult time, he posted her personal details on the internet and began harassing her family and friends.
He had a five-point plan on stalking, everything was planned, and nothing was left to chance
Det Sgt David Clubley
Cruz's computer, seized in May 2002 when he was arrested, was a "sophisticated setup, using password protected files in an encrypted system".

After cracking the system, police found files protected by the password "abuser", including e-mails Cruz had sent to the woman.

The job of analysing the computer was given to the company that helped track the Wonderland Club international paedophile ring and recently helped police with al-Qaeda investigations.

Among harassment suffered by Ms Easton's family and friends, her father once received a pornographic video attachment in an email which showed a woman "who looked remarkably like his daughter" engaged in group sex, Det Sgt Clubley said.

She was also sent up to 30 sexually explicit text messages a day with "disgusting sexual connotations."

Prostitute ranking

Police linked Cruz to the text messages by examining pages and pages of itemised phone numbers made from five phones.

Phone numbers in the memory of Cruz's phone matched some of the numbers from the other phones.

Cruz also posted personal details of the victim on a site described by Det Sgt Clubley as a "prostitute evaluation site".

Her name, phone number and a description of sex services she had supposedly performed were posted for one day and received more than 700 hits.

It was eventually taken down by the service provider after a complaint from Ms Easton and police, but that did not stop the numerous calls she then received from potential clients asking for her services.

Chat room alias

Cruz also set up several aliases in a chatroom and discussed the woman's personal details.

He then notified the victim that while he had been browsing the internet he had come across her name in the chat room, all the while writing the information himself that she had confided in him.

"At each stage he looked in advance to see how to cover himself. He even tried to set up his flatmate once. Nothing was spontaneous," Det Set Clubley said.

More than a year after the stalking began, Ms Easton is "getting on with life."

I never spoke to Mr Cruz, but he sent me e-mails threatening to get me fired, saying that I was harassing him, that the victim had cooked up the allegations to smear his name
Detective Dana McReynolds

"Her main problem, that she is still dealing with now, is the fact that she wasn't believed at the start," Det Sgt Clubley said.

When she accused Cruz of stalking her, he made a counter claim, saying she had sent explicit e-mails to him. In fact, he had hacked into her e-mail account and written the e-mails himself.

British police found details of another alleged victim, in America, in Cruz's computer and contacted Tennessee police.

It was a "carbon copy" of the UK stalking and happened in the late 1990s. But Tennessee police ran out of time to prosecute and the case was never taken further.

An American student was stalked by Cruz after she wanted to end a short-lived relationship with him that began when they met in England in June 1998.

After she returned to the States, Cruz e-mailed to say he wanted to visit her while on a trip there.

Vague threats

"She had already tried to break off the love interest part of the relationship, but wanted to keep the friendship going as he had been nothing less than cordial to her," Detective Dana McReynolds of the University of Tennessee police told BBC News Online.

"He wasn't interested in ending it and made vague threats via e-mail."

Police then received e-mails from a person purporting to be a local doctor, complaining that his son had been solicited over the internet by the student.

The student denied all knowledge of the son's doctor and had never been a prostitute. As police could find no trace of the doctor they began to suspect that the e-mail was malicious.

The student could pinpoint only one person who would send such e-mails - she claimed it was Cruz. She had already taken out a restraining order against Cruz in March 1999, which he had breached by e-mailing her.

"We tried looking for him, but believe he either left the state or the country. We went to his house, but he had gone. We went to his place of work, but he had left," Det McReynolds told BBC News Online.

Fictitious doctor

As the stalking stopped when Cruz disappeared, Det McReynolds believed he had the right man. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations - 11 months and 29 days - ran out before Cruz could be traced or any charges laid.

The Tennessee victim was linked to Chloe Easton by e-mails found in Cruz's computer by British detectives. E-mails Cruz had sent to Det McReynolds, and e-mails sent from Det McReynolds to the fictitious doctor were found on the same computer.

"I never spoke to Mr Cruz, but he sent me e-mails threatening to get me fired, saying that I was harassing him, that the victim had cooked up the allegations to smear his name" Det McReynolds told BBC News Online.

While the Tennessee case against Cruz is essentially closed, the district attorney does have the power to re-open the case.




SEE ALSO:
Text message stalker jailed
20 May 03  |  London


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