Experts offer safety tips for stalking victims in wake of double murder of Redmond couple by stalker

Around 7.5 million people in the U.S. are stalking victims every year. That number could actually be larger, as stalking incidents tend to go unreported.

Even when it is reported, there can still be dire consequences.

Around 2 a.m. on Friday, a woman in Redmond was shot and killed in her home by a person who had been stalking her for nearly a year. The suspect also shot and killed the woman's husband before turning the gun on himself. 

"In this case, the victim did everything that they possibly could. Unfortunately, this person broke into their home and killed her and it is a tragic event," Redmond Police Chief Darrell Lowe said of the Friday incident. 

When it comes to protecting ourselves, safety experts say we need to listen to our intuition. That means, if you feel something is not right, ask for help. Experts told FOX 13 that ignoring it and hoping it fades away won't work in stalking situations. 

Confronting a stalker early could potentially save your life.

"What is happening with that other person's behavior that is making you feel this way," said Cheryl Michaels, director of safety and security at Seattle Pacific University. "Why is it inappropriate? Most of the time, we have fear when somebody has violated a social norm."

These are the questions Michaels wants you to ask yourself if you think you're dealing with a stalker. Michaels said, if you find yourself trying to talk yourself out of believing in your gut feeling - consider that a red flag on its own.

"The trauma, the fear of what could happen really is a strong motivator to how we respond to it," Michaels said. "Often, it's trying to ignore it and make it go away. Ignore our feelings, our intuition that it is telling us something is wrong here and we need to act."

That act should be reaching out to friends and family. Or, if it escalates, calling law enforcement. Stalking by definition is repeated unwanted attempts at communication, contact or even harassment.


Stalker from Texas kills podcaster and her husband in their Washington home, police say

Three people are dead after a suspected stalker broke into a Redmond, Washington home and killed a podcaster and her husband, police said. The woman's mother survived the attack, escaped and called 911.

The victim in the Redmond stalking and shooting incident had told the suspect to leave her alone countless times in the last few months. The suspect would call her, call her husband, leave voice messages and would even show up on her doorstep. He also found contact information and addresses for her friends and started messaging them, too. 

She filed a no-contact order against him, but it was never served since he was a truck driver from Texas and was always on the road. 

"The worst thing we can do is ignore that gut feeling that says to answer that call," Michaels said. "After 30 attempts, you're like 'if I just answer that phone call after 30 times, then maybe they'll stop.' All that has done is tell the person who is obsessed that all they have to do is be persistent for 30 times, and then eventually they will get to make that connection."

Michaels said once you make a decision not to engage, you must stick with it. Consistency is crucial with people who display obsessive behavior. If they continue to pursue contact, keep a record of what they’re saying, because that often is what makes the contact a crime.

"With stalking and the law that is written for stalking, it has to be something that has more criminal intent involved," said Sgt. Darren Moss Jr. with Pierce County Sheriff's Office. "Like, threats to damage a property, threats to harm you or a friend. It can't just be the mere phone call or text message, because then we just have the harassment."

The suspect in Redmond showed up at the woman's home several times and threatened to burn himself in front of her home if she didn't see him.  

"He said the only way he would stop contacting me is if he died. That is also in the voice messages he keeps sending me, that he won’t let me go and the only thing that will make all this stop is if he killed himself or died," the woman wrote in her petition to get the no-contact order, which was filed before her murder. 

According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in every three women and one in every six men have been stalked at some point in their lives. 

In King County, we don't have info for 2022 yet, but the latest data available shows there were 20 civil protection orders issued for stalking in 2021. That’s up from just ten issued in 2020.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has tips for what you need to know about documenting a stalker's actions. You can find that resource here. 

KCPAO also has safety tips and tips for filing a protection order.