Art curator stalked by schizophrenic man pushes for change in law
01/14/2016 12:00 pm PST
Lenora Claire lives every day looking over her shoulder, staring into the shadows, crippled by fear of a man who has become her relentless stalker, a man no one can find.
For the past several years, Lenora's life has been under constant threat because of a schizophrenic man named Justin Massler, also known as "Cloud Starchaser."
"He's not bound by the same things that most of us sort of mentally healthy people are," said Lenora. "He's not afraid of jail because he feels like he's invincible. I honestly believe that he will kill somebody some day."
Before her name became attached to such an unstable man, Lenora Claire was gaining notoriety as an up-and-coming art curator. But Lenora was about to become a victim of her own success.
"It was 2011, I just opened up an art gallery, I'd gotten a lot of press," said Lenora. "I was one of the L.A. Weekly 'People of the Year.' I was at the gallery one day and this guy shows up -- I kid you not -- in a spacesuit, which I thought was kind of funny and strange."
What Lenora had no way of knowing then was that the quirky man who called himself "Cloud Starchaser" had just jumped bail after being arrested for stalking someone else: Ivanka Trump, the daughter of presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
"What happened was he was arrested in New York for stalking Ivanka," said Lenora. "While on bail he hitchhiked to Los Angeles, saw an article about me, and was sort of I guess fixated. That's how he found me to begin with.
"He comes up to me, we have a little conversation, he tells me that I remind him of 'Leeloo' from 'The Fifth Element,' that I'm a supreme being," said Lenora.
"And then he looks me in the eye -- and it was so chilling, I'll never forget it -- and he goes, 'And I'm going to stalk you.'"
Lenora immediately pushed Massler out of the gallery, shaken, but with no real reason to believe it was anything other than just another strange L.A. story.
But Massler was dead serious.
"Then the next day, my phone's ringing off the hook, and they're like, 'Girl, that guy you just had the weird interaction with, he's actually been arrested and extradited to New York because he has a long history of stalking Ivanka Trump,'" said Lenora.
After bringing Massler back from L.A., New York authorities lock him up again to face additional charges.
"At first I just thought it was like a bizarre thing," said Lenora. "Then when I saw that, I was, 'Oh, that's creepy, but you know, he's in jail it must be OK.'"
But everything was far from OK.
"It was, I don't know, maybe like a week or 10 days after, these letters just started showing up," said Lenora. "On the envelope it says 'From Cloud Starchaser in jail.'"
Shortly after that, Lenora started receiving emails, tweets and even texts from Massler -- the ramblings of a schizophrenic man.
"He refers to himself as the messiah, Jesus, Superman, Harry Potter, and that I'm some sort of like-minded person with special abilities," said Lenora.
"Eventually it escalated to where he would tweet at me that he needed to kidnap me, I wasn't going to like it at first, but he needed to harness my special abilities, my powers, so that he could fight ISIS, and that'd be the good of everybody," said Lenora.
For the longest time, Lenora kept the messages to herself. But now it's been four years, Justin Massler is no longer in jail, and the problem is only getting worse.
"I have literally thousands of emails, tweets, and he has entire blogs dedicated to stalking and raping me," said Lenora. "I've just had enough. I thought it would stop. I thought he would be medicated and it would be OK. That's obviously not the case."
So then why hasn't Justin Massler been locked up?
As Lenora learned, it's not as easy as just filing a report. In fact, even a simple restraining order, which would make interacting with Lenora illegal, has proven difficult, mostly because the last address Justin Massler gave authorities is "a volcano in Hawaii."
"The way the law currently is if somebody is homeless like he is, you can't serve them," said Lenora.
"Prior to this happening, I was under the assumption that if there was somebody who was diagnosed schizophrenic, with a long criminal background, if you came forward with a kidnap, rape or death threat, I really thought that they'd be like, 'Let's take him away,'" said Lenora. "No."
Crime Watch Daily arranged a meeting with Hollywood security expert and president of GSG Protective Services Fred Wilson and Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Rhonda Saunders, who literally helped write California's current stalking laws.
"Next step is you contact or we contact the Threat Management Unit from LAPD who are the specialists in this area," said Saunders. "We get the troops behind you. We notify a federal agency. The FBI is very, very involved now with these shooters, of the things that are going on all over the country. I think that they would be very interested in his emails.
"Fred, would you agree that with these emails, would you say that there are red flags being raised on this case?" said Saunders.
"Absolutely, and I think it should be turned over to the FBI, and we can help you with LAPD and get your letters to the right people, and we can get it on top of the pile," said Wilson.
"I'm unable to serve him because he's homeless, so I don't have an address, so that's difficulty number one," said Lenora. "I want to bring up the idea of serving via email -- why is this not an option? There was one case where it was allowed. Why can't I do that now?"
"I think that that's a brilliant idea, to be able to do it with our modern technology," said Saunders. "We never could've done this a couple of years ago."
For now, police tell Crime Watch Daily they are aware of Lenora Claire's case, and are keeping an eye out for Massler.
In the meantime, after our meeting, Lenora has begun working with deputy D.A. Saunders to hopefully create new laws that would help others like her.
"There's a lot of people like myself who sort of are in this weird category where you're like 'Internet popular,' you get a little more attention that the regular person, but you're not actually rich, you're not actually famous. You don't have a security team," said Claire. "The laws now, someone has to die for there to be a 'Megan's Law.' I don't want there to be a 'Lenora Law.'
"I want Justin to get the help that he clearly needs, because he's not going to stop," said Lenora. "I'm saying this now, I'm not being hyperbolic: He's going to kill or seriously harm somebody."