"Once I'm fired, you [Laura Black] won't be able to control me ever again. Pretty soon, I'll crack under the pressure and run amok and destroy everything in my path."
Richard Wade Farley is a man who stalked one of his coworkers for four years before committing a massacre at his workplace on February 16, 1988, killing seven and wounding four (including the target of his obsession).
Farley was born on July 25, 1948, in Texas as the oldest of six children. His father worked in the military, and as a result, the family moved frequently before settling in California. Though the family loved him, they rarely displayed it outwardly. Graduating from high school in 1966 and attending Santa Rosa Community College for under a year, Farley then joined the U.S. Navy sometime in 1967, staying there for a decade. After being discharged, he got a job as a software technician at ESL Incorporated, a defense contractor in Sunnyvale, California. In April 1984, Farley met 22-year-old Laura Black, who was fourteen years younger than him and also worked at ESL Inc. as an electrical engineer, falling in love her almost instantly. He began to leave gifts, including letters and homemade baked goods, at her desk and asked her out a number of times, all of which were kindly turned down.
However, Farley persisted and began calling her desk every few hours, also showing up at Black's aerobics class. He also manipulated several other coworkers into giving him Black's home address and phone number, as well as access to her confidential personal files. Over a four-year-long period, he sent Black over 200 letters, and also managed to successfully follow her whenever she was forced to change her address. In the fall of 1985, Black asked the Human Resources Department at ESL Inc. for assistance on the escalating situation, and the company instructed Farley to attend psychological counseling sessions. However, the stalking continued despite him attending the sessions, and when he began threatening other coworkers in 1986, the company was forced to fire him. Farley eventually found work at ESL's rival, Covalent Systems Corporation, also in Sunnyvale, and was even engaged to a student at the nearby San Jose State University. On February 2, 1988, Black filed a temporary restraining order against Farley, which was granted; a court date was set for February 17 to determine if the order should be made permanent.
"You cost me a job, forty thousand dollars in equity taxes I can't pay, and a foreclosure. Yet I still like you. Why do you want to find out how far I'll go?"
The restraining order, plus the economic hardships he began experiencing recently, prompted Farley to snap completely. While not permitted by the restraining order to do so, he purchased a 12-gauge Benelli Riot semiautomatic shotgun and over 3000 rounds of ammunition, spending approximately $2000 that day. On February 9, he sent a package to Black's attorney, presenting falsified evidence that he and Black were in a relationship for a long time, but the evidence was dismissed as "utter fabrications". On February 16, the day before the court date, Farley drove to ESL Inc., allegedly planning on confronting Black and demanding that she rescind the restraining order, otherwise he would commit suicide. He brought with him the semiautomatic shotgun, a number of other guns that were already in his possession, (see below), over 1000 rounds of ammunition, a foot-long buck knife and a smoke bomb (neither of which was used during the massacre), a gasoline container, an ammunition vest, earplugs, and a leather glove.
At approximately 3:00 p.m., he donned the vest, earplugs, and glove, and approached the building, firing at bystanders and killing a 46-year-old data-processing specialist who he knew. He then entered the building by shooting the glass of a side-door and began shooting at employees as he advanced towards Black's second-floor office. After killing four and wounding two, Farley reached Black's office and attempted to gain entry, but Black saw him approach and slammed the door in his face and locked it. In response, he shot out the door's hinges, knocking it down, and marched up to Black, firing twice from his semiautomatic shotgun; the first shot missed, but the second struck Black in the left shoulder, severely wounding her and knocking her unconscious. Thinking he had killed her, Farley continued his shooting rampage, firing at employees hiding under desks and behind barricaded doors, killing two more employees and wounding 49-year-old Helen Lamparter. Black eventually regained consciousness and fled the building safely with other survivors. When the SWAT team arrived, Farley managed to avoid their snipers by moving from room to room. A hostage negotiator established contact with him, and he stated that he had originally planned to merely shoot up equipment.
After firing 98 shots during the massacre and then holding police at bay for five hours, Farley decided to surrender to police in exchange for a sandwich and a soft drink. The following day, the restraining order against Farley was made permanent. Black survived her gunshot wound, but had to be hospitalized for nineteen days. On July 9, 1991, over three years after the shooting, Farley went to trial on charges related to the massacre. During the trial, he admitted to committing the killings, but pleaded not guilty to the charges, stating that he hadn't planned to kill anyone and merely wanted to commit suicide if he failed to get Black's attention. His attorney also claimed that Farley was never a violent man and that his judgment was temporarily obstructed by his obsession with Black, and that Farley would likely never kill again should he be found not guilty. Prior to the shooting, Farley did not retain a criminal record and never married or had any children.
The prosecution documented every step of the stalking, using all of the letters he sent to Black, and also the purchases of his shotgun and ammunition, which occurred a week before the shooting rampage at ESL, as well as his other weapons; they argued that this amounted as extensive planning, which was evidence of premeditation, meaning that Farley knew he was going to commit the attack. On October 2, a jury convicted Farley of committing the massacre, and on October 21, he was found guilty of all seven counts of first-degree murder that were charged against him. On January 17, 1992, Superior Court Judge Joseph Biafore, Jr., sentenced him to death, which was countered by several unsuccessful appeals due to California law. On July 2, 2009, the California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence, and to date (October 2013), he remains on death row in San Quentin Prison. In the wake of the massacre and also the murder of Rebecca Schaeffer by Robert John Bardo, California passed the country's first anti-stalking laws, and the other states followed suit. In 1993, a film directly based on the stalking and the massacre, called I Can Make You Love Me, was made. The crimes were also the subject of focus in chapters of books Chinese Playground: A Memoir by Bill Lee and Obsession by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker.
Farley killed his victims by shooting them with a variety of firearms, which include:
- A 12-gauge Benelli Riot semiautomatic shotgun
- A Ruger M-77 .22-250-caliber bolt-action rifle outfitted with a scope
- A Mossberg 12-gauge pump-action shotgun
- A Sentinel .22-caliber revolver
- A Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver
- A Browning .380 ACP semiautomatic pistol
- A Smith & Wesson 9mm semiautomatic pistol
In addition to these weapons, Farley was armed with a foot-long buck knife and a smoke bomb, but apparently never used either during the massacre.
The following were attacked during the February 16, 1988 massacre
- Lawrence Kane, 46 (data-processing specialist)
- Wayne Williams, Jr., 23
- Donald Doney, 36
- Joseph Lawrence Silva, 43
- Glenda Moritz, 27
- Ronald Steven Reed, 26
- Helen Lamparter, 49
- Gregory Scott
- Richard Townsley
- Laura Black, 26 (electrical engineer and the objection of Farley's affections; stalked for an unspecified amount of time; later shot in the left shoulder with a shotgun)
- Patty Marcott