The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the charges against a man who harassed a former high school classmate who was planning their class reunion. An Iowa City widow named Joanne sent a letter to members of her high school class to make preparations for the group’s 40th class reunion.
One of the letters was sent to Kenneth Murphy who was in prison at the time. Murphy wrote her back from prison, telling her about the ideas he had for a musical. In a second letter, Murphy revealed he was out of prison and then told Joanne one of the characters in his musical was named after her — “one of his own unrequited love interests.”
Murphy’s third letter, which was 22 pages long, told Joanne he had looked her up in a directory and noticed she was the only adult listed as living in her home. At this point, Joanne contacted an Iowa City policeman who called Murphy and told him not to contact Joanne again.
So, Murphy sent her a fourth letter as well as an e-mail. Murphy was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree harassment and eventually sent back to prison. Murphy appealed, describing one of his letters as a “misguided attempt…to woo” Joanne. The Court of Appeals has ruled there was “substantial evidence” to support the jury’s conclusion that Murphy’s letter was meant to intimidate, annoy or alarm Joanne.