For Genny Caudill, it started with a disturbing and bizarre letter she received at her office. "He said something to the effect of, 'a beautiful woman, a beautiful business -- art may be possible,'" says Caudill.
The letter included a portrait of the sender that Caudill describes as "creepy." But it was the last sentence of the letter that convinced Caudill to contact Evansville Police. She says the last sentence read, "more to follow." After learning more about the man who signed his signiture to the letter, she says she's glad she reported the letter to law enforcement.
"I found out that I am the fourth individual, the fourth woman this year to apply for a protective order against this gentleman for the same type of behavior," says Caudill.
Kady Nelson says she was harassed by the same man for nearly two years and was the first woman to file a restraining order against him. Nelson says the man was once a classmate at the University of Southern Indiana, but he had never talked to her or anyone else in class. She says she began receiving Facebook messages from the man after she graduated. She deleted and blocked him when the messages started to make her uneasy, but she says that was only the beginning.
"He did start coming to my work. I would say he came two or three times a week for a couple months," says Nelson. She first contacted EPD after she received a disturbing letter similar to the letter recently sent to Caudill.
A detective contacted the man and told him to stop contacting Nelson. He stayed away for a while, until he snuck into the back of Nelson's workplace. She says the man was dressed in all black and was unrecognizable. At one point she walked past him in a hallway, not knowing it was her alleged stalker. "He cornered me back near my office and he got in my face," recalls Nelson. She says the man screamed, "What do you think you're doing? Are you trying to ruin my life? All I wanted to do was talk to you and be with you!"
Nelson says she was lucky co-workers saw the event and called police. She filed a restraining order against the man in 2011, but she never pressed charges. Eyewitness News checked: The man has never been convicted of stalking or invasion of privacy in Vanderburgh County.
"What we've seen in this particular case is when this individual is confronted, his behavior doesn't change -- his target does," says Sgt. Jason Cullum, Evansville Police Department Public Information Officer.
Police say the man backs off after his victims file restraining orders. Cullum says the man has been involved in stalking investigations but has never been charged. He says felony stalking charges are extremely difficult to prove in court. because the burden of proof is very high. Instead, suspects are often charged with misdemeanor invasion of privacy because it is easier to prove beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution of stalking charges can also be long and grueling. He says sometimes victims grow tired of waiting for the results they want and give up.
Cullum says it's important for people to report incidents that make them feel uncomfortable. "Everybody has that sixth sense, you know, something happens that makes the hair on the back of their neck stand up. If you feel that, or if you feel this is way beyond just somebody trying to be cute or has a little crush on you, it's up to you to make that determination."
Caudill received the letter October 17 and reported the behavior immediately. "I'm hoping that he realizes that I mean business and I'm not going to tolerate it," says Caudill.
Nelson regrets not reporting the behavior earlier. "I feel bad that I just let it -- just let it go," says Nelson. "At that point I was just so sick of messing with it ... and for me, it went away. The sad thing is that he just moved on to other girls.
Now they're coming together to share a common message. "Don't be afraid to report it -- do not second guess yourself. And hopefully we can make people aware that stalking is something we need to take seriously," says Caudill.
If you or a loved one is a victim of behavior similar to the kind discussed in this story the following organizations can help:
Albion Fellows Bacon Center
Domestic Violence: (812) 422-5622
Sexual Assault: (812) 424-7273
Toll-Free: 1-800-339-7752 (24 hour crisis intervention)
750 North Park Drive
Evansville, IN 47710
118 Vine Street
Evansville, IN 47708