Michael Bonert begins his stalking campaign
The court issued an order of protection: Bonert was to stay away from Vicki and her children.
“From day one he ignored the order of protection,” Vicki later testified in a victim impact statement. “He feels he is above the law. He showed up at my home and called me incessantly, leaving messages threatening to physically harm me.”
Vicki saved the messages Bonert left on her answering machine. He wanted her to drop the charges. He wanted to get back together with her. He said he loved her. He threatened her:
“I don’t know why you’re calling 911 ”¦ I don’t know what the hell your problem is; it’s time to f*cking grow up ”¦ You got to get that next guy right away ”¦ If you ever have a guy in my bed I will beat the f*ck out of him. And I’ll probably beat the f*ck out of you too if you have another guy in my bed, so you better think twice about doing something stupid like that, cause it is my bed ”¦ If you don’t call me back, you better sleep with one eye open.”
“Vicki — why won’t you answer your phone? With your new boyfriend already? ”¦ You better talk to my lawyer by Monday or I will fill out the paper work and you will be doing seven days in jail ”¦ If you work with me, if you drop the charges, I won’t do it to you. If you don’t drop the charges you’ll be doing your time.”
“I still love you — I don’t know why — after what you did to me yesterday calling the cops on me. I miss you and I love you and I don’t know why ”¦ It just pisses me off that you and I wasted two years of my life and two years of your life and we could be happy together — moving on you know — having kids some day — having a nice house.”
“If you drop charges on me, I’ll drop the charges I’m going to put on you. You want to play that game, I can play it right back.”
“Vicki what is your problem? Every Tuesday, and every other weekend, when we can be together, you always do something stupid like this. You won’t answer your phone, you leave the house, won’t tell me where you’re at. What is your problem? Who are you with? If you’ve got some other guy in that bed I f*cking will beat the f*ck out of him. You know. That is my bed. That is our bed ”¦ If you ever take somebody in that house, or that bed, my entertainment center. That’s my entertainment center, my bed, my pickup. You know it ”¦ What the hell is your problem? Why can’t we be together?”
In August 2008, Bonert called Vicki more 1,200 times. Police subpoenaed her phone records and counted the calls.
Finally, Bonert was arrested again. After more than 1,200 calls, he was charged with only one violation of the no-contact order.
Five more arrests for Bonert
The arrest didn’t stop Bonert. Vicki wanted nothing to do with him, but Bonert continued to call her, drive by her house and follow her in his vehicle.
Vicki moved into her new home in Delhi, Iowa, where Dave Weatherwax was chief of police. She told Weatherwax of the trouble she was having with Bonert, and the chief personally staked out Vicki’s home to catch Bonert in the act.
Bonert was arrested five times between September and December of 2008. On December 20, 2008, in the midst of a blizzard, Bonert’s parents were driving him to turn himself in, and they drove by Vicki’s house.
Bonert jumped out of their moving vehicle and ran.
“I got a message to protect myself,” Vicki said. “He had escaped and was in my neighborhood.”
In the raging snowstorm, deputies chased Bonert for hours through the woods. “We tracked him for four miles across country to a trucking company,” Weatherwax said. “He was surrounded in a tractor trailer sleeper, holed up in one of those. He was brought out of the sleeper and arrested.”
First plea deal for Bonert
A few weeks later, on January 12, 2009, Bonert reached an agreement with county prosecutor. All of the 25 charges against him stalking, assault, trespassing, violating no contact orders, interference with official acts were bundled into one plea deal.
Vicki, the victim, was not consulted. She did not have the opportunity to submit a victim impact statement.
More than half of the charges were dismissed. Bonert was sentenced to 11 years in prison almost all suspended. Most of the fines were suspended. He was placed on probation.
“I believe he served a total of 30 days in jail with work release,” Vicki said. “Of course, Mike didn’t have a job with set hours, so he basically went to jail to sleep. Jail with work release equals no punishment for him.”
Warning from the police chief
When he wasn’t sleeping in jail, Bonert continued to stalk and harass Vicki. Two months after his plea bargain, on March 12, 2009, Police Chief Dave Weatherwax stopped Bonert in his car near Vicki’s house. The conversation was recorded. Here is part of it:
Weatherwax: I want what’s best for all parties here and I think what’s best is to try to keep your distance when it’s reasonable, okay?
Weatherwax: Okay. So anyway, please just use your head, that’s all I’m saying.
Bonert: I’m just telling you, she don’t own the road and I was going down this road before she even came to this town. This was kind of my town, and she can get the f*ck out of here as far as I’m concerned. If she has a problem with it, I’ll get her to lose that house.
Weatherwax: How’s that?
Bonert: I got connections.
Weatherwax: I don’t know. I guess if I was in your shoes, I would just clear out of it and stay neutral. You come and see Grandpa, I wouldn’t even look in that direction.
Bonert: I’m not changing my route. This is my route, this has always been my route and I’m sticking with it. Some days I might go down this road 50 times, the next day I might not go down for a couple days.
Weatherwax: That’s not for me to say yes or no ”¦ I’m just saying, if I can remind you or help you, steer you in a direction that maybe sometimes your emotions, you get angry or something like that and you feel like coming out and trying to intimidate or something. I’m not saying you are or you aren’t, I’m just saying think twice before you do anything like that because I don’t want you to get in any more trouble, okay?
The police chief’s warning did no good at all. Bonert was arrested for violating the no-contact order three more times. Weatherwax described his attitude:
“He was defiant, arrogant,” the chief said. “He was basically innocent. He was the person that had been picked on. In his mind, she made up these stories; he was the one that had wrong done to him. It proved to be much different than that.”
In August 2009, Bonert was sentenced to 100 days of incarceration. The judge told Chief Weatherwax to take him to jail. Bonert assaulted the police chief and a deputy right outside the courtroom door, in front of the judge and the county attorney.
“He resisted and actually got into an altercation,” Weatherwax said. “We ended up on the floor I battled to handcuff him.”
They finally subdued Bonert and took him to jail. Both the chief and the deputy had to be treated in the emergency room.
Bonert files civil lawsuits
While he was stalking her, Bonert also began harassing Vicki through the courts. He filed in small claims court, demanding the “return” of photos and videos of trips and events the two shared when they were a couple. Bonert said he owned the photos, although, according to Vicki, Bonert never owned a digital camera while they were dating.
Then, on October 13, 2009, three days after Bonert was sentenced again for stalking her, he filed a mechanic’s lien against Vicki’s home. Bonert claimed Vicki owed $48,912 for the work he did on her new home.
The claim was fantastical. “He claimed he brought in 742 loads of dirt,” Vicki said. “My house would have been on a hill it was such an outrageous amount.”
Vicki said Bonert never finished the work he agreed to do. And what he did do had to be repaired by someone else.
Bonert engages in two years of stalking
For two years, Bonert continued to stalk his former girlfriend.
“They would arrest him and let him out. It empowered him to keep going,” Vicki said. “Then he also had a habit of contacting me every time he got released. He’d contact me that day drive by my house honking.”
Vicki took steps to protect herself. She changed the locks on her house, installed a security system and a motion-detector video camera, and obtained a new cell phone number. She warned her children about Bonert. She signed up for a victim’s notification system that warned her whenever Bonert was released from jail. She got a permit and bought a gun.
Yet Bonert continued, and was charged with violating the no-contact order eight times in July and August 2010.
He was arrested on August 6, 2010. After spending the weekend in jail, he was released on bail the following Monday afternoon. Vicki received a text message warning.
Less than two hours later, Bonert parked his truck in a driveway facing Vicki’s home. Vicki called the chief of police.
Then Bonert drove off.
Vicki and her new husband, Mike Kuper, who works at a prison, believed that Bonert left to get a weapon and would return. They had six children in the house at the time their kids and friends of their kids.
Vicki was Bonert’s target, but she feared he would hurt everyone in the house. So she made her husband leave and take all the kids. Then she got out her gun.
“One of us will be dead, or both of us will be dead,” Vicki said. “It’s just a matter of who is more accurate.”
Bonert did not return. He was again arrested and charged with stalking.