Mountain View detectives arrested a man Monday who used social media to stalk and threaten a woman for over a decade.
On April 23, Mountain View patrol officers responded to a home in Mountain View where a woman informed them that she had found explicit messages in a separate inbox on her Facebook account. The senders on several of these messages appeared to be fake accounts, but based on messages she said she had previously received, the woman believed the accounts to be connected to a former classmate who had harassed her in the past.
The case was immediately referred over to our Cyber Crime Unit, where detectives began to look into who may be behind the messages. Because the Facebook accounts at the time provided a certain level of anonymity, a series of search warrants were executed so that detectives could accurately determine the true identity of the person behind the accounts.
Over the course of our investigation, our detectives maintained a strong line of communication with the victim, speaking to her regularly and providing updates as they were able. Finally, detectives were able to determine that the victim was correct – the derogatory and threatening messages were being sent by a former classmate, 29-year-old Los Altos resident Matthew Cringle.
From our investigation, we learned that Cringle and the victim were in one class together at a local high school. At some point during the school year, Cringle coughed, and the victim asked him to cover his mouth. After that, Cringle appeared to fixate on the victim.
As social media usage, Facebook particularly, began to rise, Cringle started creating fake Facebook profiles and would reach out to the victim, her friends, and her family, sending them sexually explicit messages. As time went on, our detectives learned Cringle began to send the victim sexually violent and threatening messages. Recently, he even began to use his personal email to reach out to the victim with even more messages, including asking after her whereabouts.
Cringle was taken into custody without incident on Monday, Nov. 19. He is being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Jail and faces charges of felony stalking, stalking under a prohibited restraining order, stalking after having been convicted of a prior felony, and criminal threats.
“This is the first holiday season in over a decade where the victim can relax and not worry about looking over her shoulder,” said Sgt. Tim Dahl. “[Cringle] has had enough opportunities to change his behavior, and he still didn’t stop. She shouldn’t have to live in fear.”
Based on Cringle’s behavior, detectives are concerned there may be additional victims that have been contacted. Anyone with additional information about this case, or who may be a victim or know someone who is a victim, should contact Sgt. Tim Dahl at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference case number 18-02540. Media inquiries can be sent to PIO Katie Nelson at email@example.com.