So, you don’t think the simple act of stalking someone is a serious crime? It’s a game, you say?

I believe if you ask John Leslie Morris of Copperas Cove if the crime isn’t a serious felony, he will now disagree with you.

According to a news release from Coryell County District Attorney Dusty Boyd, Morris was sentenced by a Coryell County jury to prison for 20 years on the charge of stalking a woman residing in Copperas Cove.

Morris, who resided in the victim’s neighborhood, started leaving documents in her mailbox at night, which contained sexually explicit and threatening content. Under Texas law, stalking is a third-degree felony, with a punishment range from 2 to 10 years.

The crime becomes a second-degree felony with a punishment range of 2 to 20 years if the perpetrator was previously convicted of stalking. According to conviction records, Morris was convicted of stalking a woman in Indianapolis in 2004.

According to the news release, in the 2004 Indianapolis case, Morris mailed his victim letters with sexually explicit and murderous themes and also showed up at her place of employment several times.

Is this man a danger to his intended victims and the general public at large? The judicial system of Texas appears to think so, as do I.

What is stalking? While the legal definition of stalking may vary from one jurisdiction to another, a good, easily understood definition could be a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear for personal safety.

There aren’t many things that make a person feel more helpless and vulnerable than being harassed and stalked by someone who could be mentally unbalanced or even homicidal.

The stalker’s obsession with his or her victim can be overwhelming and any rejection by the victim has the potential to be a catalyst for violent behavior. Worse, the stalker may have little or no regard for the legal consequences of his or her behavior.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, over 7.5 million people are stalked annually in the United States. More than 85 percent of these folks are stalked by someone they know.

Not surprisingly, over 61 percent of female stalking victims and 44 percent of male victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner. We obviously need strict stalking laws.

Anyone who has seen the movie “Fatal Attraction” witnessed a fictional yet realistic result of obsessed stalking. Crimes such as these do occur in real life, making this crime a serious one.

Stalking comes in a variety of forms and action or a combination of more than one. Some of these are offered for informational purposes:

  • Following the victim and appearing wherever the victim is.
  • Damage to personal property.
  • Receiving unwanted letters, gifts or even emails.
  • Monitoring the victim’s phone calls or computer use.
  • Driving by or loitering at the victim’s home, school or workplace.
  • Threats against the victim’s family, friends or pets.
  • Posting information or spreading untrue rumors about you on social media.

If you believe you are being stalked for any reason, make a police report, particularly if you know the stalker.

Police reports itemizing local crime were not readily available this week. For this reason, categories of crime appear to be at a reduced level from previous weeks. I wish that were true, but I know it is merely an oversight.

Assaults

Ten assaults were reported this week. Of these, eight involved family violence. Considering that nearly half of all domestic assaults ever get reported, this is an incredible statistic for a six-day period.

I believe the perpetrators of family violence tend to be uneducated, unskilled folks with little or no family values. Many are heavy drinkers or substance abusers that are inclined toward violence when under the influence of behavior-altering substances. When you sober up, seek counseling at a professional level, then move out of Cove so we can go back to being the city built for family living.

  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported May 23 in the 700 block of West Avenue B.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported May 23 in the 200 block of Spur Drive.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence and an assault by contact/family violence were reported May 24 in the 2000 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • Injury to a child/bodily injury was reported May 24 in the 2300 block of Big Divide Road.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported May 24 in the 1000 block of South Ninth Street.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported May 26 in the 1400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
  • An assault by contact/family violence was reported May 26 in the 2000 block of Coy Drive.
  • An assault with bodily injury/family violence was reported May 27 in the 1200 block of South Farm-to-Market 116.
  • An assault by contact was reported May 26 in the 600 block of Sunset Lane.

Theft/burglary

Ten thefts were reported this week.

  • The theft of a cellphone and charger from a vehicle was reported May 23 in the 1500 block of Phyllis Drive. This should be considered to be a burglary of a vehicle.
  • A bench was reported stolen May 23 from a business in the 2900 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190.
  • A theft of currency was reported May 24 in the 100 block of Murphy Circle.
  • Miscellaneous electronics were reported stolen from a residence May 24 in the 1600 block of Main Street.
  • An e-reader was reported stolen May 24 in the 400 block of South 25th Street.
  • The theft of an air conditioner was reported May 26 in the 300 block of Third Street.
  • The theft of miscellaneous household items was reported May 26 in the 700 block of Constitution Drive.
  • The theft of a purse and contents, and currency was reported May 26 in the 1100 block of Craig Street.
  • The theft of a recycle bin valued at $65 was reported May 27 in the 3100 block of Yaupon Road.
  • Unauthorized use of a vehicle (theft) was reported may 27 in the 500 block of Skyline Drive.

Other crimes

  • Harassment by phone was reported May 23 in the 900 block of Traci Drive.
  • Harassment was reported May 23 in the 900 block of South 17th Street.
  • Manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance were reported May 23 in the 300 block of East Avenue E. An arrest was made on each charge.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported May 23 in the 1600 block of East Business U.S. Highway 190. An arrest was made.
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia was reported May 27 in the 200 block of Clements Avenue. An arrest was made.
  • A terroristic threat was reported May 24 in the 300 block of Town Square.
  • Online harassment/Internet impersonation was reported May 26 in the 1200 block of Ritter Street.
  • Disorderly conduct/public affray was reported May 26 in the 700 block of Sunny Avenue.
  • Public intoxication was reported May 27 in the 1200 block of South Third Street.
  • Criminal mischief was reported May 27 in the 2400 block of Walker Place Boulevard. A vehicle window valued at $400 was reportedly damaged.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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