A Los Altos man has been arrested for using social media to stalk and threaten a woman for over 10 years, Mountain View police said.
The investigation started on Apr. 23, when police responded to a home in Mountain View. A woman there told police she had found “explicit” messages in a separate inbox on her Facebook account.
The senders appeared to be from fake accounts, but the woman said she thought the accounts were connected to a former classmate who had bothered her in the past, police said.
Over the course of a few months, police found the “derogatory and threatening messages” were being sent by 29-year-old Matthew Cringle, of Los Altos, a former classmate.
“From our investigation, we learned that Cringle and the victim were in one class together at a local high school. At some point during the school year, Cringle coughed, and the victim asked him to cover his mouth. After that, Cringle appeared to fixate on the victim,” police said.
Police describe how the case unfolded.
“As social media usage, Facebook particularly, began to rise, Cringle started creating fake Facebook profiles and would reach out to the victim, her friends, and her family, sending them sexually explicit messages. As time went on, our detectives learned Cringle began to send the victim sexually violent and threatening messages. Recently, he even began to use his personal email to reach out to the victim with even more messages, including asking after her whereabouts,” police said.
Cringle was arrested on Monday and is being held in the Santa Clara County Jail.
He faces charges of felony stalking, stalking under a prohibited restraining order, stalking after having been convicted of a prior felony, and criminal threats.
“This is the first holiday season in over a decade where the victim can relax and not worry about looking over her shoulder,” Sgt. Tim Dahl said. “[Cringle] has had enough opportunities to change his behavior, and he still didn’t stop. She shouldn’t have to live in fear.”
Police believe there may be more victims.
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