Ricardo López (stalker)

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Ricardo López
Born (1975-01-14)January 14, 1975
Uruguay
Died September 12, 1996(1996-09-12) (aged 21)
Hollywood, Florida, U.S.
Cause of death Suicide by gunshot
Nationality Uruguayan/American
Other names Björk stalker
Occupation Exterminator
Known for Attempted murder of singer Björk

Ricardo López (January 14, 1975 – September 12, 1996), also known as the "Björk stalker", was a Uruguayan-born American pest control officer who attempted to kill Icelandic singer and musician Björk in September 1996. López had become obsessed with the singer in 1993 and later became angry over her relationship with musician Goldie.

Over a nearly nine-month period, López made a video diary at his Hollywood, Florida apartment wherein he mused about Björk and various other topics while making a letter bomb rigged with sulfuric acid intended to kill or disfigure the singer. On September 12, López sent the package to Björk's residence in London, returned home and filmed his suicide. His decomposing body, along with his video diary and handwritten diary detailing his plot to kill Björk, were found by Florida police four days later. After viewing the tapes, police contacted Scotland Yard, who intercepted the package without incident.

Early life and obsession with Björk[edit]

López was born in Uruguay into a middle-class family. The López family moved to the southeast United States when he was a child. The family initially lived in Georgia before settling in Florida. López was reportedly of above average intelligence and had a good relationship with his family. He was described as easy going, but was introverted and socially awkward. López had a few male friends but never had friendships with women or had a girlfriend.[1][2]

With aspirations to become a famous artist, López dropped out of high school.[1] He did not seriously pursue an artistic career due to his feelings of inadequacy and fear of being rejected entry into art school.[3] He intermittently worked for his brother's pest control business to support himself. By the age of 18, he had become socially reclusive. As a means of escape, he retreated into a world of fantasies and became enthralled by celebrities.[1] He became obsessed with an American actress but became angry with her after she ended a long term relationship with one man and quickly began a new relationship with another man.[2] López soon forgot about the actress when, in 1993, he became fixated on Icelandic singer Björk. He began gathering information about her life, followed her career and began writing her numerous fan letters.[3] His fixation was initially fairly positive; López cited her as his artistic muse and would later recall the "euphoric feeling" his infatuation with her gave him. As time passed, his fixation and fantasies about Björk became all consuming and he grew more disconnected from reality.[1] In his written diary, López wrote of longing to be accepted by Björk and wanted to be a person "who had an effect on her life". He began fantasizing about inventing a time machine that would enable him to time travel to the 1970s to become friends with her. His fantasies about Björk were not of a sexual nature; in his diary, he noted that, "I couldn't have sex with Björk because I love her."[3]

López's diary eventually numbered 803 pages. Passages include his thoughts on Björk as well his feelings of inadequacy due to being overweight, his disgust and embarrassment over suffering from gynecomastia (which he referred to as a deformity that made him feel "weird") and his inability to get a girlfriend.[1][3] In various passages, he wrote that he considered himself "a loser who never learned to drive", and complained about his menial job as an exterminator that earned him little money. López also noted that he had never been "loved or even liked by a girl [...]."[3] Psychology professor Louis B. Schlesinger later analyzed López's diary and noted it contained fourteen references to López's feelings of inadequacy, thirty-four references to suicide, and fourteen direct and indirect references to murder. While López mentioned other celebrities fifty-two times, he made 408 references to Björk.[4]

Letter bomb plot and diaries[edit]

By early 1996, López was living alone in an apartment at the Van Buren Plaza in Hollywood, Florida. Around this time, he read an article in Entertainment Weekly that mentioned Björk was in a romantic relationship with fellow musician Goldie.[5] López considered the interracial relationship "unacceptable" and angrily noted in his diary, "I wasted eight months and she has a fucking lover!".[6] Angered over this perceived betrayal, López began fantasizing about how he could inflict pain on the singer and began plotting "a deliciously sadistic plan" to "punish" Björk.[7]

On January 14, 1996, López's 21st birthday, he stopped writing entries in his diary and began filming a video diary. According to López, the diary's purpose was to document "my life, my art and my plan. Comfort is what I seek in speaking to you ... I am being my own psychologist. You are a camera. I am Ricardo."[8] The diary eventually numbered eleven video tapes containing approximately two hours of footage each. The tapes were filmed in his squalor-filled apartment (which he refers to as a "pigsty"), and contain footage of López ranting in various stages of undress about philosophical issues and discussing his "crush [that] ended up as an obsession" over Björk.[8] By the time he began his video diary, López's anger over Björk's relationship with Goldie intensified and he decided that he had to kill her. In one of his video diary entries he states, "I'm just going to have to kill her. I'm going to send a package. I'm going to be sending her to hell."[8]

López initially intended to construct a bomb filled with needles containing HIV tainted blood which he planned to procure from a prostitute. His intent was to have the needles eject and pierce Björk's skin, thus infecting her with HIV. This satisfied López's desire to be a person who would have a lasting effect on the singer's life. He abandoned the plan after realizing that it was not feasible to create such a device.[7] In June, he began constructing a letter bomb disguised as a book ostensibly sent to Björk's home by her record label, Elektra Records. The device was designed to explode and also spray sulfuric acid in the face of the opener. López intended for the device to kill Björk or leave her disfigured. The final aspect of his plan was to commit suicide after the bomb was sent. López hoped that, in the event that the bomb killed Björk, the two would be united in heaven.[9]

Death[edit]

On the morning of September 12, 1996, López began filming the final entry to his video diary. The final tape, entitled "Last Day - Ricardo López", begins with López preparing to go to the post office to mail the letter bomb. He indicates that he is "very, very nervous" but states that if he arouses suspicion or is detained, he will kill himself rather than be arrested. After returning from the post office, López resumes filming. As Björk's music plays in the background, a nude López shaves his head then paints it with red and green greasepaint. He then colors his lips with black greasepaint.[8] López then spends some time looking at himself in a mirror and tells the camera that he is "a little nervous now. I'm definitely not drunk. I am not depressed. I know exactly what I am doing. It [the gun] is cocked back. It's ready to roll."[10] As Björk's song "I Remember You" begins to play, López says, "This is for you." and shoots himself in the mouth with a .38 caliber pistol.[11][10] López groans and his body falls forward, out of the camera's range.[10] The camera continued to record as López lay dead out of camera range. A hand painted sign bearing the handwritten words "The best of me. Sept. 12" hung on the wall behind him.[8] Police theorized that López intended on covering the sign with his blood and brain matter as a result of the gunshot.[12] That plan failed as the small caliber bullet did not exit López's head and his body fell away from the sign.

On September 16, an apartment maintenance worker at López's apartment building noticed a "persistent, foul odor" and blood seeping through the ceiling of the apartment below López's. The worker called the Hollywood Police Department who entered the apartment and discovered López's decomposing body. Written on the wall in ten inch high black letters was a message reading "The 8MM Tapes Are A Documentation Of A Crime. Terrorist Material. They Are For the F.B.I." The Broward County Sheriff's Office evacuated the apartment building while the bomb squad continued to search for further explosives, though only one device was constructed.[13]

After viewing López's "Last Day" tape, police contacted Scotland Yard to warn them that the package was en route. The package had yet to be delivered and Metropolitan Police intercepted the bomb from a south London post office. It was safely detonated without incident. Unbeknownst to López, Björk and Goldie had ended their relationship a few days before he mailed the letter bomb and killed himself.[12]

Aftermath[edit]

After López's suicide, Björk gave a statement to the press outside her home saying that she was "very depressed" by the incident.[14][15] She said, "It's terrible, very terrible. It's a very sad thing that someone would shoot his face off. I make music, but in other terms, you know, people shouldn't take me too literally and get involved in my personal life."[15][10] She later sent a card and flowers to López's family.[16] Although she was in little danger of actually receiving López's letter bomb as her mail is vetted through her management's office,[12] Björk left London for Spain on September 20 where she recorded her fourth album Homogenic.[17] She also hired security for her son, Sindri, who was escorted to school with a minder.[18] A year after Lopez's death, Björk discussed the incident in an interview: "I was very upset that somebody had died. I couldn't sleep for a week. And I'd be lying if I said it didn't scare the fuck out of me. That I could get hurt and, most of all, that my son could get hurt."[11]

López's family and his few friends were aware of his obsession with Björk. At one point, López's brother had told him to "Get a real woman, you're obsessed", but they maintained that they had no idea that López harbored violent thoughts or was capable of violent behavior. A psychiatrist who treated López for anxiety shortly before his death also stated that López did not appear dangerous.[2]

Ricardo López's videotapes, including his suicide, were confiscated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in their investigation of the attempted murder. It was later released to journalists through their media center.[19] The videos have since leaked to the internet and have been uploaded to online video-sharing and shock sites. Bootleg recordings have also been made available for purchase through various websites.

In popular culture[edit]

In 2000, the 70-minute documentary film The Video Diary of Ricardo López, was released. Directed and edited by Sami Saif, the film is a condensed version of López's twenty-two hour video diary. Saif decided to limit the film's availability explaining that, "...I want to be able to explain why I edited it the way I did, why I saw it as important to make the film and how I understand Ricardo Lopez. [...] I want to be there when people see the film, because there are all sorts of things about Ricardo Lopez on the internet. I like to be able to talk to people about what it is they've actually seen."[20]

In June 2015 Australian composer Christopher de Groot and theatre/opera director Suzanne Chaundy received funding from Creative Victoria to develop a one voice opera based on the video diaries of Ricardo Lopez. [21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Inside the Mind of a Celebrity Stalker". abcnews.go.com. December 11, 1996. p. 1. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Meloy, J. Reid; Watt, Heriot; Sheridan, Lorraine (2008). Stalking, Threatening, and Attacking Public Figures : A Psychological and Behavioral Analysis: A Psychological and Behavioral. Oxford University Press. p. 98. ISBN 0-198-04371-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e (Meloy, Watt, Sheridan 2008, p. 99)
  4. ^ Schlesinger, Louis B. (February 2006). "Celebrity Stalking, Homicide, and Suicide A Psychological Autopsy". International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology (SAGE Publications) 50: 39–46. doi:10.1177/0306624X05276461. ISSN 1552-6933. 
  5. ^ Carll, Elizabeth K., ed. (2007). Trauma Psychology: Violence and Disaster. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 130. ISBN 0-275-98531-8. 
  6. ^ (Meloy, Watt, Sheridan 2008, pp. 99-100)
  7. ^ a b (Meloy, Watt, Sheridan 2008, p. 100)
  8. ^ a b c d e Friedberg, Ardy (October 11, 1996). "Videos Document Obsession, Suicide". sun-sentinel.com. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  9. ^ (Carll 2007, p. 131)
  10. ^ a b c d "Inside the Mind of a Celebrity Stalker". abcnews.go.com. December 11, 1996. p. 2. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Whiteley, Shelia (2013). Too Much Too Young: Popular Music Age and Gender. Routledge. p. 105. ISBN 1-136-50229-7. 
  12. ^ a b c Pytlik, Mark (2003). Bjork: Wow and Flutter. ECW Press. p. 113. ISBN 1-550-22556-1. 
  13. ^ Ragland, Sarah (September 18, 1996). "Police Say Obsessed Fan Sent Bomb Before Suicide". sun-sentinel.com. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  14. ^ Speers, W. (September 19, 1996). "Police Intercept Explosive Mailed To Rock Singer". philly.com. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b "Rocker Makes Statement". sun-sentinel.com. September 19, 1996. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  16. ^ Colin, Chris (May 1, 2001). "Bj". salon.com. 
  17. ^ Ellen, Barbara (July 21, 2001). "'I used to think I'd live forever...'". theguardian.com. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  18. ^ Hughes, Chris (September 19, 1996). "I Feel So Scared for My Little Boy. He's Very Brave' Bjork: My Acid Bomb Terror". The Mirror (London, England): highbeam.com. Retrieved September 2, 2012. 
  19. ^ Claus Christensen (May 2001). "Bag et mediemonster". Filmmagasinet Ekko (in Danish). p. 1. Retrieved September 3, 2012. 
  20. ^ Hjort, Mette, ed. (2013). The Education of the Filmmaker in Europe, Australia, and Asia. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 1–2. ISBN 1-137-07038-2. 
  21. ^ "1.5M Funding Announced In Latest Vic Arts Grants", Creative Victoria, Melbourne, 1 June 2015. Retrieved on 1 July 2015.

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