Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Stalkers: The Psychological Terrorist

The "Material Guy"

Robert Dewey Hoskins (AP)
Robert Dewey
Hoskins (AP)

Another celebrity stalking that tested the new California law in court was the case involving pop star Madonna. In May 1995, Robert Hoskins was arrested for stalking and making a terrorist threat against the singer. He was a homeless man who claimed that she was his wife, and when she rejected his proposals, he threatened to slice her throat from ear to ear. He also threatened to kill her bodyguards for coming between them and at one point he actually managed to get within 10 feet of her.

Hoskins scaled a wall that protected Madonna's Los Angeles residence and headed toward the courtyard. Basil Stephens, Madonna's bodyguard, spotted him and temporarily scared him away. Not to be intimidated, Hoskins returned the following day, only to encounter her personal assistant, Caresse Henry. Hoskins then made his threats. He wrote a note for Madonna on a religious tract entitled Defiled and left it for her at her call box at the gate. As presented by Rhonda Saunders in an article, "The Legal Perspective on Stalking," on one side it said:

I love you
Be my

Around those words he drew hearts, and on the other side he drew more pictures and wrote:

Im very
Love for

In a circle, he wrote, "Be mind. And I'll be yours."

The contents of the religious tract discuss how people who wear inappropriate clothing should be punished and those who have sex outside marriage ought to be killed.

Madonna (AP)
Madonna (AP)

Henry contacted Stephens, who arrived to warn Hoskins once again. This time Hoskins was ready. He told the bodyguard that if Madonna did not marry him that very evening, he would slice her throat open. Stephens forced him to leave, but as he was doing so, Madonna came riding up on her bicycle. Hoskins failed to recognize her but gave her a frightening look. She learned about the threats and called the police, but they were unable to locate the man.

He didn't return the next day, or the next. They thought perhaps they were rid of him, but seven weeks later, Hoskins scaled the wall again. He ran into Stephens and went for his gun. Stephens was forced to shoot him and he was arrested.

The trial opened eight months later and Madonna was subpoenaed to testify about the trauma Hoskins had caused her. Being in court, she said, made her sick to her stomach. She had repeated nightmares of him actually getting into her home and finding her. According to California Deputy District Attorney Rhonda Saunders, the press made a comedy out of the ordeal, which undermined efforts to bring attention to the real dangers involved in such cases.

Stalking takes a psychological toll no matter who the target is, Saunders says. And even when jailed, the stalkers find ways to continue to threaten and frighten. Since they eventually get out, the victim must always worry about the stalker showing up again. Hoskins, in fact, has made such threats. He has only 10 years to serve, and even in prison, his obsession has not diminished. He insisted to the judge who saw him during an appeal that there is nothing wrong with him. He then threatened everyone who'd been involved in the case against him.