Gaming grew into stalking
Man threatened sisters he met online, police say
By DENNIS YUSKO, Staff writer
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First published: Tuesday, January 1, 2008
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- A Granville man is accused of driving 40 hours nonstop across the country and threatening to rape two girls -- ages 15 and 6 -- whom he met playing an online video game.
Joshua R. Stetar, 20, a self-described "very conservative" Christian who hoped to someday be a Christian school teacher, used mobile text messages to threaten the girls as he drove near their home in Spokane, Wash., police said.
It came after months of stalking the older girl through hundreds of text messages, police said.
"Tell the cops that I'm gonna rape you and your sister," Stetar allegedly wrote to the 15-year-old girl, last week.
Stetar, 20, continually tried to contact the 15-year-old girl since befriending her last December while playing Halo, an action video game played on the Xbox 360 console, Spokane Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said.
Halo, in which characters use dozens of weapons to defend Earth from hostile aliens, can be played with a headset that enables people to speak to each other live over the Internet.
Set in the year 2552, the game's alien civilization holds a "single-minded belief that a Great Journey awaits its faithful and that this Journey can be embarked upon by activating an array of vast, ring-like artifacts scattered throughout the Galaxy," according to Microsoft.
Stetar sent packages and flowers to the older sister at her family's home several times this year, flooded her cellphone with several hundred text messages -- and even flew to Spokane on Oct. 23 to stake out the girl's home, Kirkpatrick said.
Stetar's Myspace page is filled with Bible verses and also includes the message: "How can I know for sure that I am going to Heaven? First, you must accept that you are a sinner."
His page also includes a video clip of talk show host Bill O'Reilly criticizing Hollywood actors for their anti-war stances.
The girl's mother stepped in several months ago and changed her daughter's phone number in an effort to stop Stetar's barrage of calls and messages. But the Granville man allegedly resumed stalking the girl when he got her new number from a mutual friend, police said.
The situation came to a climax last week, when Stetar drove 40 hours west in his 1996 Oldsmobile. About 9:30 p.m. Friday, he sent a message to the 15-year-old saying that he was in a vehicle in front of her house, police said.
Six minutes later, police say, he sent the rape threat.
The girl's parents spotted Stetar in his vehicle and called police. Officers traced the vehicle back to an Econo Lodge hotel, and arrested him there.
Stetar, who faces felony stalking charges, posted $10,000 bond on Saturday and was released from Spokane County Jail. He could not be reached for comment on Monday. An e-mail address Stetar listed did not appear to be working. Police said he was still in Washington.
Police say Stetar admitted acquiring the victim's address and other personal information through Internet search engines.
He faces up to five years in prison if convicted of stalking in Spokane, according to state law. Yusko can be reached at 581-8438 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Staff writer Dan Higgins contributed to this report.
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