A Florida woman accused of stalking Logan residents made her first appearance in 1st District Court this week.
Melissa Demetropoulos, 48, has been charged with 15 counts of stalking, a class-A misdemeanor; and four charges of retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant, a third-degree felony.
Demetropoulos was extradited to Utah after being taken into custody by Florida law enforcement officers; she was placed in a behavioral health unit, according to police. An affidavit for an arrest warrant states Demetropoulos violated a stalking injunction from a prior case by contacting friends and family members of the alleged victims over social media. It’s also alleged Demetropoulos contacted law enforcement via email discussing several topics regarding the victims.
The affidavit states emails from Demetropoulos referenced convicted murderer Jodi Arias, who stalked and murdered an ex-boyfriend in 2008, and Brenda Walsh, who was convicted of a school shooting in 1979.
She also inquired to the number of elementary schools in the Logan area, police wrote, and claimed to have learned from Arias’s mistakes
Demetropoulos claimed to have purchased a one-way ticket to Utah and wanted to die by local law enforcement, according to the document.
Cache County prosecutor Griffin Hazard said law enforcement planned on arresting her when her flight landed in Utah, but she was taken into custody by Florida law enforcement before taking the flight. Though there are mental health considerations with the defendant in the case, Hazard said protecting the victims and the public is a top priority.
“We’re all trying to weigh those considerations,” Hazard said.
Hazard said Demetropoulos has roped in almost everyone who has touched the case. The first names of multiple spouses of law enforcement officers and a Cache County prosecutor were also included in an email to police, according to the affidavit.
Demetropoulos has a prior conviction of misdemeanor electronic communication harassment from October involving the aforementioned victims. It began when one of the victims received a request on a social media account from a female seemingly in her 20s, police wrote in an affidavit for an arrest warrant. The victim began receiving hundreds of messages from the account and found out the person was Demetropoulos.
It’s alleged Demetropoulos discovered the victims’ phone numbers and addresses and began mailing gifts. She also sent sexually explicit pictures and told the victim “she is going to have sex with him if he wants to or not,” police wrote.
According to court documents filed in 1st District Court, Demetropoulos was sentenced to 12 months’ probation, mental health and substance abuse evaluations, and 20 hours of community service in Florida. She was ordered to have no contact directly or indirectly with the victims, was not to have any new social media accounts and was to notify probation of all current accounts.
It’s alleged Demetropoulos reached out to a friend of the victim’s regarding a student news story based on the incident through a “fake profile,” police wrote. She made references to the alleged victims and requested changes be made to the news story.
Cache County Victim Services Director Terryl Warner said stalking situations are serious.
“You don’t know what they’re going to do,” Warner said.
Warner said Victim Services can help targets of stalking in several ways — from filing a stalking injunction and getting into counseling, to footing the bill for home alarm systems and even relocating victims if the case is serious enough. Warner said a lot of stalking today happens on social media — she advises victims to shut down social media accounts or extremely limit access from the public.
“If you don’t know 1,500 people, you don’t have 1,500 friends,” Warner said.
Demetropoulos is currently being held without bail. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 21.