There’s not a soul out there who can argue that we are living in an age of unparalleled communication. In the age of social media, of constant interaction, our friends, family, and enemies are merely a text message away.
Yet this transparency and 24/7 availability has a downside as well. When someone knows where you are at any moment of the day, you become vulnerable. This fact was beginning to become very clear to 19-year-old Shana, who was about to learn that constant availability was a dangerous thing indeed…
The police had been called. Someone had broken into the apartment of a 19-year-old girl. When they arrived, they found a dreadful scene, evidence that the someone had attempted to set fire to the whole flat. The question was, who would do such a thing?
The first suspect was one that the police had been looking at for months, one whom they had previously cleared of any wrongdoing because of a lack of evidence. His name was Michael Lane and he had once been the boyfriend of the girl who owned the apartment…
The girl’s name was Shana Grice and she had called the police on numerous occasions since she and Lane’s relationship ended. It was an abrupt end, abrupt enough that Lane was left with a thousand questions and no answers. After that, his obsession to know Shana’s reasons for their break-up began to consume him.
That obsession only grew after Shana got back together with her previous partner, Ashley Cooke. Soon, Lane was calling her cell phone constantly, leaving creepy messages and strange voicemails when she refused to answer. As unnerving as the phone calls were, things only escalated from there…
Lane was now leaving notes and unwanted flowers outside her home and on her doorstep. He would hide in the bushes, keeping an eye on when his ex-girlfriend was coming and going. He even went so far as to leave a note saying, “Shana will always cheat on you” on Ashley Cooke’s car.
A Well of Anger
When his “gestures” and warnings didn’t merit the proper response, Lane became infuriated. His next letter was a furious tirade demanding money back for the dinners and perfume he had bought for Shana during the course of their relationship. She of course said no and told him not to contact her further. The problem was, he seemed to know where she was at all times…
In addition to finding all the free time he could to spy on Shana at her apartment, Lane had apparently put a tracking device on her car as well. That way, he could keep tabs on her when she left too. As his obsession continued to fester, his declining mental state found him slipping the occasional venomous statement to friends. “She’ll pay for what she’s done”, said Lane more than once..
One month later, Lane’s stalking behavior finally came to a head. Shana Grice had called the police saying that she had been assaulted by her ex-boyfriend. The police looked into the incident but Lane denied the allegation, citing texts from Shana that implied she wanted to be in a relationship with him. Admittedly, they didn’t do much for her credibility..
The problem was, the assault wasn’t the first time Shana had called the police over her ex-boyfriend’s behavior and the tone of the text messages made it seem like perhaps the two were in some sort of on-again, off-again relationship. Perhaps what they were doing was some sort of strange game they played together.
Because of the doubt, Shana Grice was charged with “having caused wasteful employment of police by making a false report” and all of the charges against Michael Lane were dropped. This seemed to give him a renewed sense of confidence in his pursuit of her. Things were about to get much worse…
Breaking and Entering
At some point, Lane stole Shana’s keys and at one point even broke into her home to watch her sleep. Afterwards, the police did manage to give him a warning for the offense and took the keys back. He was told to stay away from her, but of course, he was too far gone to listen.
After the Fact
Soon, Shana had no choice but to try and meet the problem head-on. She decided to answer one of his late night phone calls in order to confront him about his behavior over the past few months. She was understandably taken aback by his brashness but he finally came clean, “I’m just not right in the head” he told her…
She suggested that perhaps Lane might need to seek real psychological help to deal with what he was feeling. There was silence for a few moments before he replied: “Obviously something’s not right, but I don’t know what it is. I need to find out, or be locked up or something.” She had no idea how right he was.
The police arrived to find 19-year-old Shana dead in her bedroom in Portslade, East Sussex. She had been attacked in her own home and her throat had been slit. There was blood everywhere, on nearly every surface and it appeared as if someone had tried to start a fire in two areas of her flat…
Dropping the Ball
Obviously the police had a suspect in mind. Though I’m sure in coming to that decision, every single one of them gave an audible “ugh” about the giant ball they had dropped by not only letting the suspected killer go, but also pressing charges against the victim prior to her murder.
Michael Lane was arrested and brought before the court. All the evidence was against him, the tapes of his conversations, evidence of his notes, and stalking behavior was brought to bear. His main defense was that his actions, all of them, had been motivated by a desire to know why she’d left him in the first place. Though, that was hardly an admission of murder…
According to Mr. Lane, he had engaged in sexual intercourse a mere two nights before her body was discovered by none other than…himself. Apparently, he believed they were getting back together after that night and came over to see her when he noticed her door was left open. When he walked inside, he beheld his lady love, slumped against the bed, covered in blood and completely still.
Fleeing the Scene
“She was in her dressing gown. I thought she was dead. I didn’t know what to do.” Lane explained to the court. After that, the panicked “former” stalker fled the scene. He didn’t bother calling an ambulance or telling anyone what he had encountered because A, he knew she was already dead, and B, he was sure that the police would immediately suspect him: which they did, for a fact…
He also admitted that he hid his sneakers after that too. Mainly because they had been covered in blood. He’d heard police sirens on the way home but refused to come clean that he’d been there first. This of course was perhaps the most foolish of his actions that day, if you don’t count committing the murder.
Find the Culprit
In the end, not only was Michael Lane convicted of the murder of Shana Grice, he was also subsequently implicated in the harassment and stalking of 13 other young women over a three-year period before the murder. Why didn’t police respond you may ask? Mainly, not enough evidence.