Ricardo López (stalker)
January 14, 1975|
|Died||September 12, 1996
|Cause of death||Suicide by shooting|
|Body discovered||September 16, 1996|
|Other names||"Björk Stalker"|
|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
López was born in Uruguay into a middle-class family. The López family moved to Southeast United States and settled in Georgia. López had a good relationship with his family, he was described as easy going, but was introverted. López had a few male friends but never had friendships with women or had a girlfriend. He had feelings of inadequacy and was awkward with girls.
With aspirations to become a famous artist, López dropped out of high school. He did not seriously pursue an artistic career due to his feelings of inferiority and fear of being rejected entry into art school. He intermittently worked for his brother's pest control business to support himself. By the age of 18, he had become socially reclusive and, as a means of escape, retreated into a world of fantasies and became enthralled by celebrities. 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. López 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. Initially, 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. 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."
López's diary eventually numbered 803 pages. Passages include his thoughts on Björk as well as 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. In various sections, he wrote that he considered himself "a loser who never even 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". Psychology professor Louis B. Schlesinger later analyzed López's diary and noted it contained 168 references to López's feelings of failure, 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.
Letter bomb plot and diaries
In 1996, López was living alone in an apartment 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. López was disappointed again, eighteen months after his anger at the singer, and noted in his diary, "I wasted eight months and she has a fucking lover". Angered over this perceived betrayal and the fact that she was involved with a black man, López began fantasizing about how he could "punish" the singer.
López 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." The diary eventually numbered eleven video tapes containing approximately two hours of footage each. The tapes were filmed in his apartment and contain footage of López preparing his "revenge" and discussing his "crush [that] ended up as an obsession" over Björk. 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."
López initially intended to construct a bomb filled with needles containing HIV tainted blood. 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. He began constructing a letter bomb in a hollowed-out book, ostensibly sent to Björk's home by her record label. The device was designed to explode and disfigure the reader, at the opening of the book. 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.
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. 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." As Björk's song "I Remember You" finishes playing, López shouts something unintelligible and shoots himself in the mouth with a .38 caliber pistol. López groans and his body falls out of the camera's range and then the camera abruptly stopped filming. A hand painted sign bearing the handwritten words "The best of me. Sept. 12" hung on the wall behind him. Police theorized that López intended on covering the sign with his blood and brain matter as a result of the gunshot. 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, a foul odor and blood were noticed coming from López's apartment. The Hollywood Police Department entered the apartment and discovered López's body. Written on the wall was a message reading "The 8mm videos are documentation of a crime, terrorist matter, and for the FBI." 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.
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. Unbeknownst to López, Björk and Goldie had ended their relationship a few days before he mailed the letter bomb and killed himself.
After López's suicide, Björk gave a statement that she was "very distressed" by the incident. She said "It's terrible, very terrible. It's a very sad thing that someone would shoot his face off." and "I make music, but in other terms, you know, people shouldn't take me too literally and get involved in my personal life." She later sent a card and flowers to López's family. Although she was in little danger of actually receiving López's letter bomb as her mail is vetted through her management's office, Björk left London for Spain, where she recorded her album Homogenic. She also hired security for her son, Sindri, who was escorted to school with a minder. A year after López'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."
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. In later years, these tapes were posted in Youtube, but were deleted for copyright infringement.
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.
In popular culture
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 López. [...] I want to be there when people see the film, because there are all sorts of things about Ricardo López on the internet. I like to be able to talk to people about what it is they've actually seen."
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