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By | March 17, 2014 25 Comments

1,200 phone calls, 45 criminal charges, 21-year sentence: Michael J. Bonert’s obsessive stalking of his former girlfriend, Vicki Kuper

Michael Bonert goes to prison

The judge finally revoked Bonert’s probation from his first plea deal. On August 30, 2010, Bonert went to prison to begin serving the original 11-year sentence.

By this time, Bonert had accumulated eight more charges of violating the no-contact order and faced an additional 10 years in prison. Kuper learned that Bonert had negotiated another plea deal with the county attorney two years in prison to run concurrent with the sentence he was already serving.

“In other words, there would be no punishment for this fifth stalking charge,” Vicki said.

Vicki wrote a victim impact statement objecting to the plea bargain, and the judge did not accept the plea deal. Vicki also wrote a letter to the county attorney. She wanted someone else to prosecute Bonert.

The case was turned over to Laura Roan, assistant attorney general for the state of Iowa.

State prosecution of Bonert

Laura Roan is an expert on stalking. Not only does she prosecute the cases herself, she provides training on stalking to law enforcement personnel throughout Iowa and the United States.

Roan described Vicki’s case as “classic.” But usually, when the stalking has been as severe as what Vicki endured, the victim was already dead.

“He doesn’t take no for an answer,” Roan said of Bonert. “All the law enforcement intervention in the world does not decide when it’s done. He decides when it’s done.”

Roan explained that many women who are stalked go back into the relationships to save themselves. “She’s always negotiating. Once she’s away, can she stay away safely?

“Vicki was determined to stay away,” Roan continued. “The fact that she’s survived is miraculous.”

Roan proved in court that Bonert knew, or should have known, that by driving by Vicki’s house, and maintaining physical or visual proximity, he was violating the no-contact order.

She proved that Bonert knew, or should have known, his conduct was causing fear.

She proved that Vicki was fearful, and her fear was reasonable.

Bonert was found guilty of stalking.

Sentencing hearing for Bonert

Bonert’s sentencing hearing on the new charges was held on October 10, 2011. Although he faced a maximum of 10 more years in prison, Bonert wanted any sentence to run concurrent with the prison term he was already serving.

For the prosecution, Delaware County Attorney John Bernau argued that Bonert’s new sentence should be consecutive, not concurrent. “He has shown absolutely no remorse,” Bernau said. “He’s taken no responsibility, no accountability for his actions. So the only way this family and the community are going to feel safe is if Mr. Bonert gets a consecutive sentence.”

The judge had previously received a progress report about Michael Bonert from Dean Gleason, correctional counselor at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility (FDCF) in Fort Dodge, Iowa. It stated:

Bonert arrived at FDCF on 1/31/2011 and has been assigned to my caseload since that date. His behavior at our facility has been exemplary. He has received no reports and has steadily advanced up our level system. FDCF rewards offenders who display positive behavior as they receive more privileges while advancing through our levels. Bonert has achieved Privilege Level Four and will advance to our highest level (PL6) if he continues to exhibit the proper behavior/attitude. I have to commend Bonert for his accomplishments and I welcome his pleasant demeanor when meeting with him. My only regret is that I don’t have more offenders like him on my caseload.

In his testimony during the hearing, Gleason admitted that the total time he spent counseling Bonert added up to less than an hour.

According to Vicki Kuper, Bonert’s behavior was all about manipulation. At the hearing, she testified:

Michael Bonert knew exactly how to manipulate me when he wanted to date me. When I quit dating him, he knew exactly how to manipulate the Delaware County Sheriff’s deputies in order to discredit me. He knows exactly who to manipulate at the prison to get a good recommendation, get moved to a minimum security facility and hopefully get released. His counselor didn’t  date Michael Bonert, so he wouldn’t have the same experiences I’ve had with him. Mike knows exactly how to manipulate his family to continue paying his attorney’s fees, which allows him to continue with his obsession. He knows exactly how to manipulate the courts to remain part of my life.

Bonert had been transferred to the minimum security North Central Correctional Facility in August 2011. His counselor there, Mary Elizabeth Pepples, also testified at the hearing.

“I believe he recognizes his charge and what he’s done, and he is so willing to do better, and I think that he does understand that and he is working towards that,” Pepples said. “I think he has done really well.”

On cross-examination, however, Pepples admitted that she had never dealt with Bonert outside of her office. She also did not know that while he was in prison, Bonert continued to victimize Vicki through his civil lawsuits.

Bonert himself then spoke at his sentencing hearing. Vicki described his statement as a rant full of lies.

Bonert claimed that he and Vicki lived together while they were dating. After the no-contact order was in place, she secretly texted and called him, and he continued to help Vicki with her new home. After they worked together, they had sex. Bonert denied that Vicki was afraid of him, and claimed she had committed perjury by saying that she was.

“I was horrified,” Vicki said. “My family was there, two of my kids were there, my mom, father-in-law, husband, other relatives of his. I really regret having my kids there. I asked them if they wanted to go for closure it was a huge mistake. Bonert’s statement was 99% fabrication.”

The judge, Michael J. Shubatt, also did not think highly of Bonert’s statement.

“I did not, Mr. Bonert, in your statement, lengthy statement to the court, hear a lot of remorse or enlightenment into the circumstances and the ongoing situation that brings us here today,” he said. “I know that you closed your statement by saying that you’re sorry, but it seemed to me that 99% of your statement had to do with Ms. Kuper and what’s wrong with her. You say you’re done with her, but your statement seemed to indicate otherwise to me.”

Judge Shubatt sentenced Bonert to 10 years, to run consecutive to his current sentence.

Although Bonert could spend a total of 21 years in jail, there is no minimum sentence, so he is up for parole every year.

Bonert keeps losing his cases

Bonert appealed his conviction for the most recent stalking charges. He lost.

Bonert lost his small claims court case against Vicki, and was charged with perjury.

Bonert’s mechanic’s lien of $48,912 against Vicki was dismissed, and he was ordered to pay her court costs and attorney fees. He was also charged with perjury and fraud.

Bonert filed another appeal of his stalking conviction on February 6, 2013, claiming he had ineffective legal representation. The case has not yet been resolved.

Kuper’s life in danger

The Mike Bonert ordeal has taken a toll on Vicki Kuper. Defending herself against Bonert’s frivolous civil lawsuits cost her $20,000. Because of the constant stress of the stalking, she now has high blood pressure, and will need medication for the rest of her life although she doesn’t know how long that will be.

“I feel that my days are numbered,” she said. “Some people have not taken this situation serious enough, like the board of parole planning on releasing him completely instead of gradually, and I think he is going to hurt me.”

Both Assistant Attorney General Laura Roan and Police Chief Dave Weatherwax agree that Vicki is in danger from Mike Bonert.

“When he’s released, he’s an ongoing threat to her, no question,” Roan said.

“I worry about her safety, as well as my own, quite frankly,” Weatherwax said.

“I’ve known Bonert’s family for 40 years,” the police chief continued. “I’ve known his mother, father and grandfather ”¦ I tried to talk to him first, tried to tell him the seriousness of it, because I knew him, but it fell on deaf ears.

“One thing I will say about the stalking I’m about to retire I’ve never seen a case in which I’ve seen the fear in the family that I’ve seen in this case. To this day, that family still lives in fear of what can happen, and I don’t say that lightly. It would not surprise me if harm came to them.”

Attention to the issue of stalking

Vicki and Mike Kuper

Vicki and her new husband, Mike Kuper.

“The way I see it, my days are numbered anyway,” Vicki said. “I accepted a long time ago some day he will kill me. So while I’m alive, I’ll bring attention to this issue.”

Vicki told her story in an episode of the TV series Stalked on the Investigation Discovery network. The show was called Above the Law.

She created a website called Stalking Help Now. And in January, which is Stalking Awareness Month, she wrote a letter to the editor in The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“There are so many women out there who are being victimized, and they’re not strong enough to speak up,” Vicki said. “Someone has to speak out.”

Another parole interview for Bonert

Mike Bonert had a parole hearing on November 20, 2013. Parole was denied, and Vicki thought she would be safe for a year. But then she was notified in February that the Iowa Parole Board intended to interview Bonert again this Wednesday March 19, 2014.

She felt sick about it.

“We were warned at the last interview that he will be getting out soon,” Vicki said. “I just didn’t expect it to be this soon.”

Still, Vicki is determined to live her life as normally as possible. For years, her friends and neighbors didn’t know the depth of what was going on in her life because she refused to talk about it.

“Mike stalked me and used the courts to control me starting in June of 2008,” she said.  “During that time I was able to meet and marry my new husband, a wonderful man.  He served in the Air Force and receives ongoing self-defense training at his job.  I believe he was sent to me at the right time and for a reason.  He has always been supportive and is very protective.”

Despite the profound betrayal of Mike Bonert, Vicki Kuper lives as vibrantly as she can. When her daughter pushed her to get a tattoo, Vicki agreed when she found something she wanted to say, which is now tattooed on her shoulder:

“Fearless is not the absence of fear, it is living in spite of the things that scare you to death.”

 

Vicki Kuper's tattoo.

Vicki Kuper’s tattoo.

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AnotherOne

People simply do not understand the issue of stalking. Some people are truly dangerous. It is frightening. I wish Vicki and her family strength and safety.

Vicki Kuper

Thank you 🙂

onmyown

I think the first thing I would do today is put my house up for sale, move away, and change my name to something ending in “Smith”.

I realize that doing all this would cause economic and emotional hardship, and I realize that she shouldn’t have to do all this to be safe. But the reality is that he’s going to get out of jail sometime, and he still blames her for all that happened. He’s going to try to kill her. It’s just a matter of when.

Redwald

Like “Aerosmith,” maybe?

(Sorr-ee, it just popped into my head and I couldn’t resist! 😉 )

onmyown

I don’t get it.

Redwald

I’m sorry if that was obscure. My point was that in changing your name to “something ending in Smith,” I don’t doubt your intention was to pick something as inconspicuous as possible, to help you “disappear” into anonymity. Something very commonplace, like Jill Smith, Linda Smith, Debbie Smith… Except that when I idly asked myself “what names end in Smith?” for some reason the first name that came to mind was “Aerosmith”! A familiar name to be sure, but hardly inconspicuous!

It reminds me rather of Douglas Adams’s “Ford Prefect” from Hitchhiker’s—another name that was intended to be inconspicuous, but wasn’t!

onmyown

Ha! Ok, I’ve got it now. I read the comment and “Janie’s Got a Gun” started playing in my head. 😉 ‘Nuff said about that.

Vicki Kuper

This is Vicki Kuper, the victim in this crazy situation.

We are just back from the parole hearing and, thankfully, parole was denied.

When asked by a board member if there are any criminal cases that are yet to be decided, Mike admitted that he has filed for post-conviction relief on the 5th stalking charge. He also admitted that 2 months ago he filed to have me arrested on a perjury charge, and apparently there is an investigation into that matter.

The perjury charge attempt is a huge sign that he is not done pursuing me, and parole was immediately denied.

I have come to the realization that he is never going to move on.

Of concern to me once again is the fact that his counselor recommended his release, knowing that he continues to pursue me by making the perjury claim.

Congratulations on standing up, being heard and passing another milestone. Many counselors are completely snowed by these people.

onmyown

I’m very sorry that you have to go through this, and I’m really disturbed to read that you might have to meet with a parole board every year.

I’m grateful that you had local police who paid attention early on, and a police chief who “gets it”. I think we’ve gotten to the point that informed police officers know what will happen, and they don’t want it occurring on their watch. I find it especially telling that the police chief is also fearful for his own well-being if this cretin is released.

I think you deserve all credit for doing things the right way. So often women are trapped in the malignant hope that the offender didn’t really mean it, or that he can change, that they don’t follow through with prosecution like they should. I’m glad you didn’t follow this path and could see that this “relationship” wasn’t worth saving.

I was also the victim of some relatively mild stalking when I left the sociopath. He did creepy things like leaving one article of my clothing on my front porch at a time while I was sleeping, and putting the jewelry I left behind in my mother’s mailbox. I knew it was a calling card to let me know he was still thinking about me. I feel lucky that he left me alone after he moved in a new woman, though I pity her.

I agree that it will probably never be over. This guy just doesn’t have the healthy fear of jail that most people have to keep them walking the straight and narrow, and now he probably has revenge on his mind most hours of the day while he’s incarcerated. He’s had years so far to plan. It’s frightening to think about it.

Vicki Kuper

I love it when I hear from someone who truly understands my situation.

I truly believe the Chief of Police saved my life. If I hadn’t had his help I would have had no one in law enforcement on my side.

Your last paragraph is exactly how I feel too. I couldn’t have said it better.

onmyown

Oh, I most definitely understand the situation. I’m not just talking about the criminal stalking. There were things Donna wrote about your time with him that totally clicked with me.

The sociopath I was with tried to devalue my children almost from the start. He used to tell me that I raised them wrong and that they wouldn’t amount to anything in life, and then he gave me “advice” to correct them. It was very upsetting! I have two sons who are in college – one working on his master’s in education, and one in undergraduate pre-med studies. The younger two are honors students. They’re good kids, and they don’t get in trouble. There’s nothing wrong with them.

The ‘spath also bragged that he was some kind of master of the construction trades. 4 times in two years that I know of, he took money to do work and either didn’t finish it or botched the job, requiring that someone else be hired to complete the work. To add insult to injury, it was also discovered he overcharged people who didn’t know any better for the work. It was this, I think, that led me to the understanding that this person had a certain charm and animal cunning, but in the end he was just a very stupid man. There’s no ability to think long-term, that the destruction of his reputation would far outweigh a few thousand dollars he stole from other people.

I think the only difference between me and you is that the sociopath I was with didn’t ultimately decide that *I* was the one who had to pay for his failures.

SociopathsSuck

I’m also so happy to hear his parole was denied again. What I don’t get is how someone who rarely deals with these monsters has so much pull about whether they’re released or not. I had my ex’s psychiatrist testify at my trial and she basically got my ex unsupervised access to my 3 yr old. She wouldn’t listen when I told her my concerns. I guess it wasn’t HER child so she really didn’t care. He has bragged many times about how it’s a game to him to manipulate psychiatrists. They don’t get to see what WE see…neither do the lawyers or judges who continually give these freaks so much freedom to break the law.

I have court tomorrow with the ex monster. 4 cases against him. 3 payment hearings and one default hearing. I just found out yesterday that I’m not the only one going after him for child support in my province. so this makes at least the 3rd ‘other’ child that I didn’t know about…lol I immediately told his oldest daughter. she wasn’t surprised either. Tomorrow should be fun! Listening to the lies spew forth is always entertaining.

Vicki Kuper

So true! Good luck tomorrow.

Stargazer

It’s hard to understand how easily manipulated these people are who work with prisoners. Are they not required to receive any training about sociopaths? What an outrageous nightmare. This should NEVER happen to anyone! I’m having a hard time understanding all the ignorance.

lAFraud, I know you and your family are living as normal a life as you can under the circumstances. But I must say, I’d probably be ocnsidering a move to some place like Australia or Iceland or anywhere far away, with a change of identity, especially if your life is on the line. I know I’m projecting my love of travel and faraway places. That’s not for everyone.

Vicki Kuper

Stargazer,

I would move away if I could. My husband and I both have ex spouses who need to be able to see the kids. We can’t just take them away or move away from them.

Then there’s the job and money situation. We don’t have lots of money to move far away, especially without jobs.

He just needs to move on.

Thanks,

Vicki

Sophia

My son and I will be moving into a subsidized apartment complex and because my ex and his father wil be stalking us, I wonder if it anyone has ever had to designate an entire complex be an area where the alledged stalker may not enter, like a building.
The reason I am certain he will stalk us is because he has this sick fantasy of reuniting with me and picking up where we left off. Not only that, he has no place to live, so he thinks I can allow him to live with us and defraud the government. I will not place me or my son who is going to live with me in jeopardy of living on the streets or in a car when he is the one who planned our demised so that, as it was told to me, I would not have any other choice but to leave with him, so he got us evicted on purpose. And here we are contemplating our next move yet again.

Vicki Kuper

Sophia,

I would talk to the manager of the complex and give them his name and a photo. I’d be worried that he may try to rent a unit close to you. Explain the situation and ask them not to rent to him if that’s possible.

In my case, the stalker was court ordered not to drive on the street I lived on, even though his grandfather lived next door. He filed to amend the order and was allowed to visit his grandfather one night a week for a 3 hour period. That was eventually taken away too when he didn’t follow the order.

If you have a case history with this man established with law enforcement you can request that he not be allowed near where you live. If you don’t have a case history start one. Keep track of his contact attempts with you and report them to law enforcement. This is the only way to get help from them if you really want to keep this man away.

Good luck and stay safe.

Vicki Kuper

Sophia

Well the thing is, the complex now has been labled “subsidized” and this means that your income must be within the poverty guidelines. You must also be on one of the government assistance progams such as food benefits, medicaid, welfare or totally disabled. My ex has a job which pays him $16.00 an hour so even with deductions such as 4 garnishments and my alimony, he probably nets about $600 a month and the last time he applied to this same complex, he was given a letter explaining that;

1. his credit was and will always be deplurable

2. they were making an over-haul and changing to subsidized housing for those with low income.

That made him form a hatred of women. Because in his warped mind, only women can get help from the government. He did throw in the disabled because we are all faking an illness to get help from the government also. Yes, I like being on 20 pills and an injection that that has risen $1000 dollars a year and now is $6500 a month. I would rather have my health and a life without him.

Vicki Kuper

Sophia.

Good for you for staying away from him. I hope your health improves and you are able to live happily without him. Take it one day at a time and choose happiness. I know that’s hard, as it is for me too, but you will have much more success when you choose to be happy in spite of your troubles.

It doesn’t sound like you have to worry about him moving in the complex near you. Now you just have to be strong and not let him insert himself into your life. Just remember if you let him in, you will have to start the process of getting rid of him all over again when it doesn’t work.

Vicki

Sophia

Thank you for the incouragement. He has been gone for 24 hours and though I’m waiting patiently on my Social Security card, which is a big thing for me and my son to get a safe place to live, we have a lot of correction ahead of us.

I’ve finally convinced my son to go with me for counseling and I will be asking about some special kind of help for my son. I know I call it “deprogramming”, but that’s so close to what his father has been doing to him for 20 years.
He taught him how to disrespect me and my side of our families. He was taught not to listen to anything I would tell him even though my son admitted to me that listening to his father had never been the best thing for him.
I was tricked into going back to work when my son was two when I had set my mind to retuning to work when he was five and in school. And besides kicking myself for not seeing through him back then, but if I could turn back the hands of time, I would, I would. When my son was two and he had all his toys everywhere, I would say to him, “O.k. let put your toys away.” or “Let go put your clothes away.” though at two he was only playing with the laundry basket. I wanted him to get the idea of keeping a house tidy. His father would just put him in front of the television, which taught him to HAVE TO DEPEND ON OTHERS. During his pre-teen and teen years, he was never given chores, so now he had no structure. He’d get into trouble, only I addressed it and handed out the punishment which his father would promptly take him off of it. Next thing I knew, hevwould be wayching t.v. and playing video games. I had become so frustrated, I wanted to run out and I knew what was going to happen in the future (now). My ex told me how he would grow up to walk all over me. Well, this turned out to be wrong. My son is mannersble and respectful to everyone but me, but even more disrespectful towards his father. This because his father has sabotaged this child’s life from the start and then yñturned around and wanted to get physical with him when our son saw who his father really is. This is the day he made me have ny first netvous break down and went into a drunken tyrade because I was so exhausted from moving and running up and down 3 flights of stairs all day, I collapsed. He was the most evil incarnate human being at this very moment. I didn’t even have the energy to find the phone to call the police! All I could do wss listen to him start in on my son and sob. I was a wreck. It exhausts me just remember this.
However, my point being my son knows that he needs this and has the potential to still be a good person. I know this because last week, he took a long walk in the middle of the night to buy me a soda when I started to have an ulcer attack. Then he got so angry with his father that he went and snatched him up to drive me to the hospital after he told him he intended to leave when he was done with the beer he had just popped open. He screamed how I was in pain and I needed to go that minute. It could have went another way. He could have sat down with him but he was genuinely concerned for me where his father couldn’t be bothered. I feel I really need to help my son.

justlikeyou

This just makes me so incredibly sad. The danger to you and your family is so abundantly clear. Yet you are forced to continually defend yourself financially, legally, emotionally. It is though the abuse continues its just a different source. The source being the system designed to help you. You shouldn’t have to fight this hard😢 I’m so sorry that you do. Your tattoo is beautiful, it seems to mirror your spirit beautifully. Thank you for speaking out and trying to make a change!

Vicki Kuper

Justlikeyou,

You are right about the abuse continuing through a different source. I am now painfully aware of the term ‘legal abuse’. It’s filing fraudulent lawsuits against someone for whatever reason. In my case it was revenge for me breaking up with him. My attorney warned him through his attorney that if he didn’t drop it I was prepared to follow through with it to the end, and I did. I never lost a minute of sleep worrying about losing the case. I am very organized and keep thorough records of my transactions. I’m sure his attorney was hoping that I would be a mess at keeping track of things. Have you ever heard any of the ‘Dumb Criminals’ stories? He was a very dumb criminal in many ways.

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