Coulter said authorities knew of the problem with the release of driving records before Schaeffer's death, because an obsessed fan had stabbed and seriously injured actress Theresa Saldana years earlier. Yet it wasn't until Schaeffer's death that policies changed.
He said it was up to policymakers to determine if more changes are needed now, with celebrity access, including home addresses, increasingly available online. The veteran detective is fairly certain however that no matter what deterrents are in place, some people will continue to develop unhealthy obsessions with the famous.
"I don't think it's ever going to change," Coulter said. "You're always going to have people fascinated with the celebrities."
The Internet may have made sending messages to celebrities easier, but stars have long had to contend with unsavory contact, including a 1949 case in which three obscene letters were sent to Elizabeth Taylor, then 17. Despite painstaking comparisons with other threatening letters, no suspect was ever identified, according to FBI files, although in 1952 a man was arrested on suspicion of harassing Taylor and falsely identifying himself as an FBI agent.
In the 21st century, stalkers' use of the Internet for harassing stars can leave digital fingerprints used by authorities and private security investigators to track suspects and strengthen cases against them.
Coulter said just as laws improved celebrity safety after Schaeffer's death, stars will learn how to use social media without putting themselves in danger. "It's just a new problem that they have to deal with," he said.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP
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