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As Susan walked the familiar route from the Bedford Avenue subway station to her apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she kept looking over her shoulder. She had never met the man who had been tormenting her for months face to face. But Susan knew everything about him. Once, she saw an old family photo with him in it, but she knew he had changed. He had emailed her more recent pictures of himself in women’s clothing, but would she recognise him if she saw him on the street?

Her stalker was her long-lost cousin, who had learnt of her existence through his sister. Leonard Nachmann had become fixated on Susan and over time, sent her countless explicit emails and messages. He also called her boyfriend and pestered him, threatened him sometimes.

Leonard’s sister, Karen, pleaded with Susan not to report him to police, as he had been suffering from mental health issues his entire life. If he landed in trouble again, it could mean the end of his career and ultimately, his freedom. Karen gave Susan the number of a hospital to call, should he ever approach her or arrive at her apartment unannounced.

This did not help to make Susan feel better at all. She lived in fear that Leonard would cross the line and make good on his promise to hurt her. Leonard associated with dangerous people and passed on Susan’s email address freely. The emails kept popping up in her inbox: some messages were uncomfortably personal, others were spam from porn sites, which she had never visited.

Susan used to love her hometown, the city of New York, but it had become an emotional battlefield. She knew Leonard lived close-by, but she did not know exactly where. She also knew he had a successful career in finance, but did not know where he worked. To protect herself, Susan changed her appearance every time she left her apartment. She wore sunglasses and hats, hoping desperately to blend into the crowded streets of New York.

She realised that the only way out of her prison of fear would be to unmask her stalker and look him in the eye. But once she kicked the hornet’s nest, she uncovered layer upon layer of lies and deception. This is the story of one woman’s bravery and determination to win back the freedom that was devoured by a devious puppet-master. 

>>Intro Music

Susan Fenston was born and raised in New York City. She was the youngest of two daughters. Her dad was an actor who had some fame in the late 60s, and her mom was an artist. Susan’s parents met at a café in Greenwich Village and had Susan when they were in their early 20s. Susan recalled that her childhood was an interesting time, as her dad was often unemployed, moving from one acting gig to the next. He also disappeared for weeks on end, and they never knew where he went.

Her mom worked as an artist on animated TV shows, and once she left high school, Susan decided to study art too. But it wasn’t for her. She eventually found her feet and realised that book publishing was the career that most excited her.

As she began to navigate her life as an adult, she picked up contact with her dad again. He was a loner who preferred to keep to himself in his small, dark apartment. They shared a love for photography and wandered the streets of 1980s New York, capturing moments of the grit and grime: junkies looking for money, uncollected garbage… They found beauty in the darker side of the city they both loved.

Susan was heartbroken when she learnt about her father’s dark side. Her older sister told her that had exposed himself her. It sickened Susan, and she couldn’t quite understand why he would do something like that. Her sister warned her not to get too close to him, but Susan did not want to lose her dad again. She asked him about the incident, and he shrugged it off, saying that it was the only way to get her sister to leave. He knew she had taken drugs and didn’t want her around. This strange response didn’t do much to put Susan’s mind and ease. Sometime later, her father crossed the line by touching Susan’s breasts, and she knew that he was a deeply disturbed man. 

Still, when he was diagnosed with lung cancer, she did not abandon him. It was different between them, though, but she knew he had no one else to care for him. Susan always valued family above everything else, even though hers was not quite the Seavers or the Keatons from popular 80s sitcoms like Growing Pains or Family Ties. 

In a tragic event, Susan’s sister ended her own life shortly after having a baby. She had had a troubled life and struggled with addiction and depression. Susan was devastated. She had lost her sister and her father and felt alone, as her mom no longer lived in New York either. Yes, she had friends and colleagues, but she yearned for a deeper connection.

In 2003, Susan decided to do something about her need to find out more about her family. Her father’s side of the family had always been a mystery to her, and she wondered if she could track down any distant relatives on Genealogy.com. Back then, the internet looked much different from what it does today. Genealogy.com was essentially a chat forum where people connected or posted their family trees. Susan started the journey into her own family tree, by looking for anyone with the familiar last name Feinstein. She knew it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, but it was worth a shot. 

Much to Susan’s surprise, a woman called Karen Gardiner reached out to her. She too, was looking for relatives when she came across Susan’s post. It didn’t take them long to figure out that they were, in fact, cousins. Susan’s grandfather remarried, so she knew there had to be half-cousins out there somewhere, but this was one incredible stroke of luck! Never in her wildest dreams did Susan imagine that she would actually find someone, but she did.

Karen’s life was the polar opposite of Susan’s inner-city existence. Karen lived in suburban Massachusetts; her husband, Hal, owned a car company, and they had two daughters. She had a sister called Sharon, whose husband had died, leaving Sharon to raise their two daughters alone. Sharon lived close to Karen, in fact, in the same house where they grew up. They also had a brother Leonard who lived in New Jersey. He was a troubled soul with many problems. He suffered from schizophrenia and was on and off his medication. 

Susan was eager to learn more about her family and all their trials and tribulations. She knew that no family was perfect, and maybe that is exactly why she felt at ease knowing that, like her own family, her cousins did not have a picture-perfect life. But from the outside-in, it seemed pretty close to it.

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~ Now, back to today’s episode ~

Pleasant correspondence between Susan and her cousin Karen progressed well. They told each other about their lives and what they knew about their extended family. Soon they exchanged photographs and discussed family traditions. When the festive season rolled in, Susan sent recipes, and Karen commented; theirs was a natural and familial connection. Karen emailed a photo, of all of ‘them’: Karen, her husband and daughters, Sharon and her daughters and Leonard. 

They were standing in a living room of a warm and welcoming family home. Susan never knew a home like that, growing up in apartments all over New York City. She finally felt part of a family circle, something she’d yearned for for many years. In the photo Susan sent Karen, she was at the Williamsburg Waterfront, with her two dogs. The picture in the concrete jungle stood in stark contrast to the family vibe she got from her cousins in New England. 

At the time, Susan lived in Williamsburg and worked in the cut-throat world of publishing. She had two dogs and a boyfriend and was slowly coming to terms with losing her sister and her father in short succession of each other. With the support of her close friend Bobby and the love of her boyfriend Nolan, she knew she would be able to work through it. Susan was a homebody and preferred to keep to herself. Instead of hanging out in bars and restaurants, she preferred staying at home, watching movies with a good friend. Like she used to do with her best friend, Bobby. Susan met Bobby many years before when they lived in the same apartment building. He was gay and colourful, and they spent a lot of time together. They watched horror films and true crime documentaries together, theorising about unsolved cases and mysterious crimes.

Susan knew there was another side to Bobby, however; he could be flaky and unreliable at times. But as a friend, she accepted him as he was, even though it meant being patient at times. She knew he was into BDSM, but keeping the details of his sex life to himself was, of course, his prerogative. Susan did not have a problem with his sexual preferences, as it did not concern her. They never really discussed it, as their friendship was one with healthy space and boundaries.

With the ebb and flow of their lives, the two friends grew apart and lost touch for 10 years, when Bobby left New York. Then one day, out of the blue, Bobby reached out to her. He had found her online, via her work profile. He was living in Washington DC with his boyfriend, James. Susan and Bobby reconnected, and she felt comforted by the idea of having an old friend back in her life. Bobby was happy to hear that Susan had picked up contact with her cousins, as he knew how important family was to her.

Susan and Karen were in regular contact and were becoming good friends. That is till Susan received an email that changed things a bit. The email had an attachment, that was clearly not meant for her eyes. It was a typed conversation between Karen and her sister Sharon, discussing Susan. Sharon reckoned Susan was a gold digger and only reached out to them because she wanted money. It was evident that Sharon felt Susan was a con-artist, who habitually reached out to people, hoping to get money somehow. In the conversation, Karen defended their cousin, but it was clear that Susan was causing tension between the two sisters.

This was very hurtful to Susan, as she knew she only had the best of intentions. If they knew her at all, they would have known that she was nothing like that. Besides, she had never mentioned money or hinted at the fact that she needed anything but friendship from them. Susan talked it over with Bobby, who had been following her story of her new-found family. They talked it over and realised that the photo of her walking her dogs with a harsh city backdrop could have made her appear to be a bit rough. That is if it was looked at through the eyes of a suburban family. Either way, it was no excuse for accusing her of being a gold digger, which she was not.

Susan wrote to them and said that she had read the email by accident and assured them that she did not want anything from them. She also made it clear that, if they tried to slander her, she was not going to stand for it. Sharon replied with a nasty email, saying that she only ever wanted to protect her family. This was the first of many clashes with Sharon, who had a sharp tongue and spoke her mind without ever considering Susan’s feelings.

By this time, the tentative Leonard had politely asked Karen for Susan’s email address. Karen asked if it would be okay if he reached out to her too. Susan felt that this almost old-fashioned way of asking permission was endearing, and agreed. She knew Leonard had had some issues in the past, but Karen assured her that he was on his meds and doing well. Besides, Susan had experience with her troubled sister and would never judge anyone for battling mental health issues. On the contrary, she was looking forward to getting to know Leonard better.

Leonard reached out to Susan via IOL instant messenger, and they bantered to and fro for a while. Soon things became a bit too cosy for Susan’s liking. He had made some sexually charged remarks, and she decided it would probably be better to keep Leonard at arm’s length. But Leonard was undeterred and bombarded her with suggestive emails and messages. Around the same time, Susan was continually receiving hang-up phone calls and continuously felt harassed. One suggestive email was followed by a hang-up call at home. When as soon as she hung up, a message pinged on her computer. It read: 

“You have a very soft voice, Susan.”

The situation caused Susan a lot of stress. It was in the early 2000s, and personal computers were only just becoming an everyday thing. Bobby was quite tech-savvy, and he told Susan about IP addresses and how someone’s online activity can be linked to a specific server. There was a spark of hope that they would be able to track down her online stalker. 

There wasn’t too much she could do about the harassment, but she informed her email provider. Susan suspected Leonard was the one behind all the emails, seeing as though she could see he was online whenever her the emails came flooding into her inbox. It was usually confirmation of a subscription to porn sites, but some emails were from Leonard to. After she complained to Yahoo, Susan received yet another email from Leonard, saying: 

“I see you like complaining. I’ll bet I can make you moan.”

This confirmed to Susan what she already knew: Leonard had become obsessed with her, and he was the one behind all the sexually explicit emails. It made her sick just thinking about it. She informed Karen about the contact she had had with Leonard and asked for advice in dealing with him. She knew he could be volatile, and Karen would know the best way of handling the situation. But Karen never replied. After a while, Susan received an email from Karen’s husband, Hal, informing her that Karen was in the hospital, but he did not say why.

For a while, the harassment festered, but Susan was always on high alert. Sadly, due to many cut-backs at the publishing house where she worked, she lost her job. It was a shock, but Susan realised that it was perhaps a blessing in disguise. She needed some time to process everything that had been happening in her life: the deaths of her father and sister, the drama in her new-found family, especially the onslaught of emails by Leonard.

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When Susan finally heard from Karen again, she explained that she had been in hospital after an accident at home. During an argument with Sharon, about the situation between Leonard and Susan, she spilled boiling water over herself and suffered severe burns. 

In a long email, that almost read like a tragic family saga, Karen opened up about Leonard. She told Susan that his behaviour had been causing problems from a young age. Karen said that they had a little sister too, called Sandra, who had died in a house fire many years before. Everyone suspected that Leonard, still a kid at the time, had started the fire. Even their mother blamed him and grew cold towards her only son.

When Leonard was a teenager, he was caught peeping into the window of their neighbour’s daughter’s room. The furious father confronted Leonard, who, in the heat of the confrontation, grabbed a shovel and hit the man in the face. The man was hospitalised but survived. After this incident, Leonard was sent to a psychiatric facility for treatment. This would be the first of many stints at the institution, and the troubles had only just begun. 

Susan and Bobby did an internet search to learn more about the institution, Greystone and was appalled to learn that in the 1990s when Leonard was there, the place was in bad condition and patients were deprived of the most basic needs. Sex offenders were sent there, with the hope of reform, but the opposite happened. Many female inmates were assaulted and fell pregnant. It was a violent and dangerous place to be.

In Karen’s letter, she also said that their mom had mental health issues. Towards the end of her life, she was aggressive and incoherent. She shunned Leonard completely and obsessively held a soft toy belonging to Sharon, calling it Sandra (the name of her daughter who had died in the housefire). The only way to calm her down was to restrain her with a straight jacket. When their mom was institutionalised, and after her death, Leonard and his problems became Karen and Sharon’s responsibility.

Despite his mental health issues, Leonard was an academic achiever. If he was on his medication and focused on his work, he excelled. He went to college and by all accounts, was a promising student. That is, until an incident that marred the rest of his college years… 

Leonard was home at his share-apartment on the night, studying, when his roommate, Lou Buhr, and a friend, Rob Mcaughtrey, brought a girl home. They had all been drinking, and Leonard claimed that he went to his room when they arrived. The night ended with the girl, half-naked, flagging down a car in the middle of the road, pleading for help. Police arrived at the apartment shortly after and Leonard’s Lou Buhr and Rob Mcaughtry were arrested for rape. Both were sent to prison.

The victim said that Leonard was also involved in the attack, but he denied it. The rape kit only found semen of the roommate who was formally charged and sent to prison for the horrendous crime. 

Susan was uncomfortable with this story. Not only the fact that Leonard was implicated but about the way in which Karen played it down. Karen clearly felt that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she thought that the victim was drunk and her accusation of Leonard was false. Susan grew increasingly concerned while learning about Leonard’s life. The fact that he had potentially committed a heinous, violent, sex crime, made her fear for her own safety. Bobby followed the story with Susan, horrified to learn about the rape. After a bit of research, he found details about both Buhr and Mcaughtry online, confirming the story Karen had told Susan. 

To add fuel to the fire, Karen’s husband, Hal, reached out to Susan. He expressed his concern for her safety, seeing as though Leonard was connected to yet another crime. This time more serious: the murder of a young mother in New Jersey. Although Leonard claimed he had nothing to do with it, his name was connected to the case. Hal knew Leonard was fixated on Susan and mentioned that the victim bore a strong resemblance to her. 

Susan decided it was time to take action and printed out all correspondence, including sexually explicit emails from Leonard. She went to her local police precinct where she accused Leonard of sexual harassment and told police that he had been charged with rape in the past, citing the incident when he was in college. Police took her statement, and she felt that they understood the gravity of the situation. But, seeing as Leonard lived out of state, there was not a lot they could do. He had sent nude photographs of himself, but he could argue that it was art. The photos were not exclusively of his penis, so proving sexual harassment would be difficult. Either way, the case had been brought to the attention of law enforcement, and Susan felt comforted, knowing that they knew about it. She thought that if something were to happen to her, police would at least have something on record.

Still, it didn’t change much to her immediate situation, and Susan changed her phone number and email address once more. She knew it would only be a matter of time before Leonard found her again, but for a moment she had peace. That did not last very long, though. Susan’s boyfriend Nolan, a film school student, began receiving multiple phone calls a day. Sometimes the caller hung up, other times the person breathed down the line, other times a whispering voice would recite dark threats.

Nolan became increasingly anxious and concerned about Susan’s safety, as well as his own. He checked in on her after every call he received and freaked out if he couldn’t reach her. Some days Nolan left school in the middle of class, rushing over to Susan’s apartment to see if she was okay. The stress of the situation took its toll on their relationship, as Nolan withdrew into himself, frustrated that there was nothing he could do.

Susan felt alone, guilty, scared and tired. Bobby and his boyfriend, James, were the only ones she could turn to. She often offloaded on both of them, updating them as the story of her stalking continued. As Susan recalled, Bobby and James were like her concerned parents in a way, taking all the news to heart, and they were always ready to support her. If she needed to get away from it all, she went to visit them in Washington DC.

But as soon as she returned to New York, she would walk right back into the nightmare that had become her everyday life. An old pen pal who lived in Israel reached out to her, to check on her well-being. She had met Emmett online, and they discussed politics and world issues. Theirs had always been a platonic relationship, and they had regular contact over the years. When Susan disappeared from online forums, because she was trying to avoid Leonard Nachmann and his sister Sharon, Emmett attempted to get a hold of her, using a couple of yahoo email addresses with combinations of her name: susanfensten@yahoo.com, susan DOT fensten@yahoo.com, and so on.

Finally, someone replied to him, and a series of emails followed. It didn’t take Emit long to realise that he was NOT communicating with Susan. The respondent sent emails containing videos of a man in drag masturbating. He also sent paintings of Susan in suggestive poses. In their correspondence, the sender admitted that he was Susan’s cousin and that he had been keeping an eye on Susan and, as he called Nolan, ‘her young boyfriend’. Emit managed to track the real Susan down by telephone and told her everything. 

Susan was appalled. Not only was Leonard harassing her, but now he was also impersonating her and bothering her friends. Emit forwarded all emails to Susan, so she could add it to the growing file of evidence against Leonard. 

A furious Susan also reached out to the only member of the Nachmann family she felt she could trust: Hal. Hal confronted Leonard on Susan’s behalf, and he had no idea what Hal was referring to. As their conversation unfolded, they realised that it was actually Sharon who had fuelled Leonard’s obsession with Susan. Sharon composed emails, pretending to be Susan, gushing over Leonard. The emails stated that she was very much interested in pursuing a relationship with Leonard. She also mentioned that she liked the fact that Leonard had money, playing into Sharon’s accusation that Susan was a gold digger. 

Susan and Bobby talked it all over, and Susan decided the only way to get Leonard to stop, was to contact him and clear it all up. She felt sorry for him for being manipulated by his sister and planned to be kind, but firm. Bobby encouraged her to be more aggressive, so Leonard would know it was NOT okay to pester her and Nolan. Nolan became annoyed at the fact that Susan couldn’t just leave it be. He felt she should never have reached out to Hal again.  

After a couple of conversations with Bobby, pouring over every sentence of every message together, they both decided it she had to do something. It would be for the best if Susan confronted Leonard, and hopefully put an end to his tirade. 

After a couple of emails between Susan and Leonard, she felt that he understood where she was coming from. They continued their correspondence, and things seemed normal for a while. Leonard sent photos of himself, dressed as a woman, and explained that he wanted her to know he sometimes donned women’s clothing and didn’t want her to be caught off-guard if they ever met. His alter-ego was a plainly dressed woman in glasses, called Leona. Susan, born and bred in New York, had an open mind and told him she would never judge anyone for being themselves and doing what made them happy. 

Months of rocky relations followed. Firstly, Leonard’s friend, Rob Mcaughtry, reached out to Susan, making it clear that he hoped to meet her and take her out on a date. Mcaughtry was one of the two men convicted of rape when Leonard was at college. Susan immediately told Bobby about this, and they both decided that the best course of action was to ask Leonard to tell off his friend. He had no right to give out Susan’s details to anyone, let alone a convicted rapist. The reply did not come from Leonard, but rather from an indignant Mcaughtry. He did not pull any punches in his email, calling Susan a skank – among other things. But Susan didn’t care, as long as he stayed away from her and stopped his correspondence with her. 

After a couple of weeks, Karen made contact again and informed Susan that Leonard’s friend suddenly disappeared. Susan realised that Karen was referring to Mcaughtry. She had angered a rapist, and now no one knew where he was. More than ever, Susan feared for her safety. She was always looking over her shoulder and dreaded checking her emails. She was jumpy and nervous, feeling like a sitting duck as she tried to keep up her regular routine. There was sporadic contact with Karen and sometimes Leonard, things were cordial.

That is until Leonard invited Susan to a party he was hosting, called KinkFest. Susan was curious and seeing as though things between her and Leonard had become friendly, she was rather keen to finally meet him. Before long, her email was flooded with strangers who were also going to ‘KinkFest’, and Susan realised that she was not up for it. She let Leonard know that kink wasn’t her scene and asked him not to give her address to anyone again.

One person on the guest-list, a man named Karl, warned Susan NOT to go, as he claimed to know about a plot to kidnap her and Nolan. A complicated chapter followed with talk of a cult upstate called the Tribe of 12, who practised cannibalism. The plan was to grab Susan and Nolan off the street; Susan, so she could have babies, and Nolan so the Tribe could eat him. A battery of emails ensued, with Karl informing Susan of a dead body found in his freezer. He told her all about the Tribe of 12 and believed they were behind it, and worse: that his girlfriend was somehow involved. Then Karl went silent… By way of communication with Hal, Susan found out that Karl had died. 

Susan was petrified, but life had to go on. She was relieved when she landed a freelance publicity job, despite all the turmoil in her personal life. Determined to focus all her energy on the new opportunity, Susan tried her best to close the nasty chapter on the Nachmann family. It was good being back in the publicity game, but at the same time, she could not focus. Before long, the emails started taunting her once more.

Things were completely out of control. Susan and Nolan considered leaving New York, but then again, it was their home. After yet another fruitless visit to their local police precinct, Nolan reached a breaking point. He called FBI headquarters in New York who – to their surprise – asked if they could come in and talk to one of their agents. 

Agent Brandon Waller listened intently to Susan. It was an unusual case because there were so many people involved over an extended period. Agent Waller promised Susan that he would investigate her claims and asked her to leave her file with print-outs with him. 

In the early 2000s, cyberstalking was a relatively new crime. Because there was no physical danger, law enforcement believed it was not so serious. They couldn’t really do anything until a stalker pointedly threatened his victim with violence. And even then the stalker would probably only get a reprimand, what they call a ‘knock and scare’. FBI officers knock on the stalker’s door saying: we know it’s you, stop harassing people online. The chances of a prosecutor pressing charges were not very good. 

Nonetheless, agent Waller sensed that Susan and Nolan were desperate for help and found the case intriguing. For the first time during the whole ordeal, Susan felt a bit safer. At least someone was doing something. 

But a strange thing happened… As soon as the FBI became involved, everything stopped. All emails and hang-up phone calls ceased as if someone had flipped a switch. It was eerily quiet, like the calm before the storm… 

Waller worked his way through thousands of printed pages, showing all the email correspondence between Susan, Karen, Sharon, Leonard, Hal and others. He decided that a good starting point would be to look at convicted rapist in the story, as his probation officer could have provided some information. Interestingly, Rob Mcaughtry had been in prison since 1991. Also, he was charged in a different county to Lou Buhr, which meant they could not have been convicted of the same crime. The story Karen told, of Leonard and the rape allegation in college was not true.

Susan was astonished. If Mcaughtry was in prison with no internet access, he was not the one who had emailed her. This point was the first hole in the bucket that made all the water come out. If someone had made up the dark story of rape – was anything else real?

Agent Waller investigated each and every character in the sordid family soap opera. They were all real people, in so far that they existed and were listed. The agent found a Leonard Nachmann but was able to exclude him as ‘the Leonard/Leona’ who had been in contact with Susan.

In 2005, while agent Waller was investigating Susan’s case, a humiliating incident occurred at her work. Someone hacked her work email account and sent out an email to all her colleagues. It was a yahoo greeting with a questionable image of a donkey attached. It said something along the lines of: 

“I don’t like my job, I’m bored, I want to have sex, if you’re up for it, contact me.” 

Susan explained to her boss and her colleagues that she did not send the email. She told them that she was being stalked. Although people understood, it was still an awkward position to have been in. Susan struggled at work and often asked the IT support person to block emails or to help monitor her sent mail. Susan informed agent Waller, and he subpoenaed yahoo to obtain the IP address of the sender. This process took a fair bit of time, but it paid off. 

Agent Waller was able to locate the exact location of the person responsible for all the emails. He met with Susan and asked if she knew anyone in DC. Susan said yes, her friend Bobby and his boyfriend James. Then he showed her the street address… Bobby and James’ apartment… Susan was stunned and could not think why in the world her friends would want to torment her like this. But as she recovered from the initial shock, she realised that it could only be Bobby…

All the characters in his elaborate play were all representative of the parts of his life. Karen was Bobby’s domesticated side, which he shared with James. Hal was the supportive friend like Bobby was to Susan. Sharon was the feisty dark manipulator, most likely the closest to Bobby’s true self and Leonard… All the things that came with Leonard’s story made Susan realise that Bobby was a seriously sick individual.

Agent Waller asked her to keep up the contact with Bobby, so he wouldn’t be alerted. Susan found it terribly hard, so avoided Bobby as best she could. She’d answer his calls but always made an excuse to cut their conversation short. She would say she was down or distracted or any reason to get away. He called her incessantly at work, perhaps because he suspected something was up, but Susan had to hold her pose. 

Bobby began to plant seeds that his own computer had been hacked and that emails were sent to random people in his inbox. Susan questioned how this could even be possible, but she had experienced so many strange things, nothing really surprised her. On her own steam, she discovered that the sexually charged videos of Leonard were from an online fetish library. The person in the videos lived in Florida. He posted many porn videos of himself online and had never heard of Leonard, Susan or any of the other made-up characters before.

Satisfied with the evidence, in the pre-dawn hours, FBI agents poured into Bobby and James’ DC to arrest him. This was the very same apartment where Susan went as a place of refuge when the trauma of her stalking situation overwhelmed her. 

Bobby Ironside was arrested, and Susan was holding her breath. If he was capable of such diabolical actions, what would happen next? Would he explode and try to destroy her? They were best friends for a long time, and he knew every single detail about her life.

At a preliminary hearing, Bobby chose to defend himself. When he was asked what he was pleading guilty to, he mockingly said: 

“A mixed bag of things”. 

Bobby looked at Susan and flicked his middle finger at her, behind his back, in a final act of defiance. 

During his trial, he said that he was not the only one at fault. If Susan didn’t respond to all the messages, nothing would have happened. He played it down, saying they always played pranks on each other and that the entire thing should be called ‘correspondence’, not stalking. The judge did not stand for this and made it clear that Bobby’s logic made no sense whatsoever.

Much to Susan’s surprise, Bobby was sentenced to three months in prison, with supervised release for three years to follow. He was a first-time offender, and the crime was non-violent. Typically someone in a similar position would look at probation and a warning. But the judge felt that, due to the scale of Bobby’s harassment, prison time was appropriate. 

Sadly, Susan and Nolan’s relationship did not survive the onslaught they suffered together. She wrote a book called ‘ You have a very soft voice, Susan’. Susan’s book was the main source of research used for this episode. She recounts all the sordid details of her two years of hell. This episode hardly scratched the surface of everything she experienced.

Today Bobby Ironside is a free man, and although he has not been in touch with Susan since his arrest, she will always have the feeling that somewhere someone is watching… 

**We’d like to thank today’s sponsors, hidden-object mystery game, June’s Journey and online counselling platform, BetterHelp.

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