Skip to main content

The 7 different types of stalker

A woman looks over her shoulder as a man is following her

Stalking is a crime that can happen in real life and online, which is linked to domestic violence, harassment and even murder. The results of one six-month study, released in 2017, found stalking behaviour came up in nine out of ten murders.

According to figures released by the ONS, in the UK, in the year ending March 2020, 19.9% of women and 9.6% of men between the ages of 16 and 74 had been victims of stalking. And according to police, those numbers only rose during the pandemic, with more than 80,000 cases recorded in 2020.

Here are the seven types of stalkers, according to Dr. Dale Hartley, MBA, Ph.D.

1. Domestic Stalkers

The most common type of stalker is the domestic one: an ex-spouse, partner or family member who becomes fixated on and targets someone who they once shared a household with. Often, they are looking to either continue a relationship or re-establish a broken one.

In one case from Cornwall, Hayley Smith ended her relationship with Ben Gould when she found out he was cheating on her. Gould then began a stalking campaign, sending her a barrage of texts, threatening self-harm, spying on her and when she contacted police, sending death threats.

Police later found he had been hiding in her loft for days, before moving to hide in the caravan on her driveway when he was thought to be on the run. Gould pled guilty to stalking and was given a 20-week suspended sentence and restraining order, which he later broke.

2. Lust Stalkers

Lust stalkers are serial stalkers who target multiple victims over time.

American serial killer Dennis Rader is a classic example. He selected his victims (mainly women) and then watched them for months before he murdered them. Rader described himself as being obsessed with 63-year-old Anna Williams, who only avoided BTK because she was late home on the night he planned to kill her.

Two other women he stalked in the 1980s and 90s filed restraining orders against him, with one even moving away.

3. Love-Scorned Stalkers

A love-scorned stalker is someone who has their romantic overtures rebuffed.

Rohit Sharma met his victim when she served him in a shop in Wembley, Northwest London. He came back later that day and proposed to her. When she refused, he began to stalk and harass her for 18 months.

The woman quit her job, but Sharma was able to find her new workplace. He also managed to get her phone number. For months, he watched where she worked, called her multiple times a day and bombarded her with texts and messages on social media. He was arrested but then continued to harass her after being released on bail.

She eventually left the area, but this didn’t stop Sharma, who contacted her friends and family to find out where she was. He was finally sentenced to 29 months in prison.

4. Political Stalkers

Political stalkers are motivated by their political beliefs, whether they agree with their victims’ stance or not.

Sophie Walker, who founded and led the ‘Women’s Equality Party’ for four years and at one point ran to be mayor of London, was stalked by someone in 2020. The man (who was caught on Walker’s home security cameras) slashed her tyres, threw a brick through her window, smashed her roof tiles, set fires and painted offensive messages on her property. Walker had to send her four children to stay with relatives during this time and eventually, moved house.

She had run a campaign on stalking with the singer Lily Allen, who was also stalked for seven years. Walker’s stalker was charged with criminal damage, which came with a shorter sentence.

5. Celebrity Stalkers

As the name suggests, celebrity stalkers are those who fixate on famous people.

Margaret Mary Ray was arrested eight times for behaviour related to stalking David Letterman. She was caught driving his stolen Porsche (with her son inside), while claiming she was his wife, sleeping on a tennis court near his property and leaving cookies and an empty Jack Daniel’s bottle outside his house.

She was arrested and spent time in prison and an institution. Afterwards, her fixations changed to the astronaut Story Musgrave, who told police she had harassed him for four years, calling him, writing to him, sending packages and even going to his house and turning on the outside taps. She was arrested for trespassing and sent to prison.

6. Hit/hired stalker

The hit stalker is a contract killer who stalks their victim before carrying out the murder they have been hired to commit.

Charles Harrelson, father of actor Woody Harrelson, was an infamous hitman who was sent to prison for the final time for the murder of Judge John H. Wood, who he was accused of stalking before he shot him.

7. Revenge

The seventh type of stalker, proposed by Dr. Hartley, is the revenge stalker. Revenge stalkers are usually known to their victims. Their motives are retaliation. This could come in the form of an employee who was fired and then targets their boss as payback for the ‘wrongdoing’.

When Brygida Trzaska, from West Palm Beach, Florida was fired from her job as an executive assistant in 2019, she responded by stalking and harassing her former boss. For months, she constantly phoned, messaged and called her, as well as waiting outside her home. She even sent her a birthday card.

Trzaska followed her victim to the supermarket and then tailed her home from there. Police cautioned her, but she was back the very next day. In the space of just over a month, Trzaska called her former boss 339 times. She was arrested in 2020.