The "So-Called Stalker" Turns Himself In.
Early last Friday morning, 27-year-old Todd A. Witte--otherwise known as "Ron" in last week's Washington City Paper cover story ("My So-Called Stalker," 10/8)--turned himself in to custody at the 3rd District police station on V Street NW. Witte was wanted by D.C. police for alleged threats chronicled by the anonymous author of the 13,000-word story, which recounted what the author described as a four-year history of intimidation and unwanted attention from a man she didn't even know. (City Paper forwarded the story and additional facts related to the case to Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey and Mayor Anthony A. Williams last Thursday.)
"He came in at about 6:20 with an attorney and a relative and surrendered himself because we had a warrant charging intimidation--felony threats," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesperson. "He was processed and taken over to court."
Witte was arraigned later that day at D.C. Superior Court on a charge of felony threats. He will be held on $100,000 bond at the D.C. Jail until a preliminary hearing Oct. 18.
The story's author, who wrote under the name "Theresa," says she's "amazed but thankful" about Witte's arrest. "It's ironic that I had to expose myself to preserve my privacy," she says. "I'm not entirely hopeful. I have confidence he'll be in for a little while, but not as long as the length of time he's put me in an uncomfortable situation."
Theresa continues to insist on anonymity because she has had more than her share of exposure over the past four years. Because stalking--unlike sexual harassment--is relatively new to case law and public policy, most media outlets do not have explicit policies about publishing the names of alleged stalking victims.
According to Witte's father, Dr. Jeffrey Witte, he and his son had been in contact with D.C. police over the last few weeks and had agreed several days earlier that Todd Witte would turn himself in. Witte says his son, who lives with him in Gaithersburg, was briefly hospitalized in mid-August following several phone calls he made to Theresa. He's been diagnosed with a schizoid personality and now takes anti-psychotic medication.
"He's not loony and crazy," says Jeffrey Witte. "I feel sad for everything that's happened. But this also leaves me with a disabled son I have to deal with....The story made him out to be a monster. He still has rights."
At his arraignment on Friday, Todd Witte entered the courtroom wearing a rumpled white button-down shirt, a tweed jacket, and dress pants. In court, he looked more like a tired preppy than an alleged psychopathic stalker. Arguing that Witte had made the threats
only by phone, his attorney, Tom Talbott, requested that the court release Witte to his father's supervision.
But prosecutor Megan Hills demanded that Witte be held without bond until his preliminary hearing. The two attorneys debated for only a few minutes before Hearing Commissioner Ronald Goodbread, who was presiding, silenced the talk. He said he needed to make a phone call and that the court would hear Witte's case at the end of the day.
Goodbread then made a quick call from the bench and disappeared behind a partition at the back of the room. When he returned, he
handed a manila envelope to Hills. Inside was a copy of Theresa's City Paper story. Hills flipped through the copy in between work on other cases.
When the hearing resumed a few hours later, Hills read aloud from what she represented as transcripts of Witte's messages on Theresa's home voice mail. "I can walk right into [the store where you work] and blow a hole right in your fucking forehead and get out of court," Witte allegedly said on one message, which was also quoted in last week's City Paper story.
The recitation of the ramblings silenced the previously bustling courtroom. "[Hills] wants this bad," said one attorney who observed the hearing.
Hills repeated her demand that Witte remain in custody without bond until his hearing. When the judge demurred, she asked that the court hold Witte unless he or another could post a $100,000 bond. "This woman is in grave danger," said Hills.
Talbott balked at the amount, arguing that the "bond was effectively putting [Witte] in jail." He said Witte had improved since August and had not contacted the complainant lately.
But Goodbread was unsympathetic to Witte's plight. "This man will arguably turn into the benchmark for stalking cases in this jurisdiction," he said. "As for jail, he has put this woman in jail effectively. He's stolen her peace of mind and bragged there's nothing anyone can do about that. Well, he's wrong....
"Harm may come to this woman. I can't control the universe. But I can say it will not be on my watch," Goodbread continued, pounding the bench with his fists. "There are consequences for your actions. These are his consequences. He'll stay in jail until someone else lets him out."
In the end, Goodbread agreed to a $100,000 bond for Witte's release--money Witte's father says he cannot post. Witte will remain in detention until his preliminary hearing next week, according to Jeffrey Witte. Goodbread will preside over the next hearing as well. CP