Tracy Morgan & Anthony Burstow

In 1992, Tracy Morgan, who was then twenty-five, was working for the British Navy in Fareham, in England. She and her husband made friends with a thirty-two-year-old naval officer called Anthony Burstow. They felt sorry for him because his wife, who was also in the Navy, was out of the country. Soon after they became friends, Tracy began to get worried. She realized that Anthony was becoming too interested in her and she decided to be less friendly with him. That was when he started stalking her.

The English verb ‘stalk’ means to walk very quietly and carefully when you are following an animal that you are hunting, but recently, when people use the word ‘stalking’, they are usually not talking about hunting animals; they are talking about stalking another person.

Often, one person stalks another because they love them and they believe that if the other person gets to know them, their love will be returned. But people like Anthony stalk just to frighten someone and make them unhappy. In many countries stalking is now a crime. You can go to jail because you have been following someone and bothering them even though you have never hurt them in any other way. Anthony Burstow was the first person in Great Britain to go to jail for stalking.

Even after Tracy had complained to the police, Anthony kept stalking her. Then he broke into her house and stole some of her underwear. Tracy reported this to the police and Anthony was arrested and sent to jail. Because of his troubles with the law, Anthony’s wife left him — and he was thrown out of the navy.

After Anthony went to jail, Tracy and her husband moved, but Anthony somehow found out where they were and began sending them threatening letters. As soon as he got out of jail, he started to stalk Tracy again. The stalking continued for several years. Tracy got sick. Her marriage broke up. She moved two more times to try to get away from Anthony, but he always found her. He watched her house constantly. He phoned and sent her letters. He poured oil on her car. He broke into her house and stole her wedding video and hid tape recorders in her bedroom. He put signs on her lawn saying she was a slut and a liar.

Finally, he was arrested. When the police searched his house they found a lot of hypodermic needles and medical instruments. They also found notes about his plans to mail spiders and snails to Tracy.

He was sentenced to three years in jail, but he did not stop his attacks. He wrote a crossword puzzle in which all the clues contained personal information about Tracy or her family. He also offered to pay criminals he met in jail $7000 to kill Tracy’s new boyfriend.

He got out of jail after only a year and a half, but he was still not allowed to go near Tracy. In order to get around this order he changed his name and took the same name as Tracy’s boyfriend.

- information from The Observer, (UK), 00.01.23, The Guardian, (UK), 00.01.29, and The Electronic Telegraph, 96.03.05