AP

Utah hearing for Hawaii suspect in extreme cyberstalking

Nov 29, 2019, 5:54 AM
FILE - This March 21, 2019 file photo shows a warning sign and a police officer's vehicle at Walt G...
FILE - This March 21, 2019 file photo shows a warning sign and a police officer's vehicle at Walt Gilmore's home in North Salt Lake, Utah. U.S. prosecutors arrested Loren Okamura, a Hawaii man, on Nov. 22, who they accuse of sending hundreds of unwanted service providers to the Utah home, including plumbers and prostitutes. It's unknown why the Gilmores were targeted or what if any relationship exists between Okamura and the family. Homeowner Walt Gilmore told The Associated Press in March he couldn't discuss why a protective order was sought against Okamura but that he was sure the extreme stalking was not random. (Laura Seitz/The Deseret News via AP, File)
(Laura Seitz/The Deseret News via AP, File)

HONOLULU (AP) — A man arrested in Hawaii will be sent to Utah, where he’s accused of tormenting a family for more than year by sending more than 500 people to their house for unwanted services including food deliveries, repairs, tow trucks, locksmiths, plumbers and prostitutes.

Loren Okamura was in Honolulu’s federal courthouse Wednesday, for a scheduled detention hearing. His federal defender, Sharron Rancourt, said he wants to have that hearing in Utah.

He was indicted in Utah last month on charges of cyberstalking, interstate threats and transporting people for prostitution, court documents show. He was arrested at a Honolulu supermarket last week.

A magistrate judge ordered Okamura detained in Honolulu until he’s transported to Utah. It’s unclear when the hearing will be, but he would have had to face the charges in Utah eventually. Morgan Early, an assistant U.S. attorney in Honolulu, didn’t object to having the hearing in Utah, as long as Okamura continues to be detained.

Okamura, 44, targeted a father and his adult daughter, sending the woman threatening messages and posting her picture and address online, authorities said. One posting said the homeowner wanted drugs and prostitutes at the house in a quiet, middle-class neighborhood in a Salt Lake City suburb.

The Gilmore family was “tormented” during the year-plus that the “extreme cyberstalking” took place, U.S. Attorney John Huber told reporters Tuesday.

Investigators had been focused on Okamura as the suspect since January when the Gilmores were granted a protective injunction from him in Utah. It took investigators time to gather enough evidence to charge Okamura because of his use of encryption and apps that made him appear anonymous, Huber said.

“For all the good that technology offers us in our modern lifestyles, there is also a darker, seedier side to it,” Huber said. “That’s what you have here.”

Huber declined to disclose the relationship between the victims and Okamura, but said it was not random. He noted that most stalkers have had previous relationships with their victims and said, “those dynamics are present in this case.”

A sealed indictment was issued on Oct. 2, but Okamura wasn’t arrested until Friday as police struggled to find him because he doesn’t have a permanent address or job and authorities said he was “savvy” with technology used to mask his phone’s location.

A team of Utah officers flew to Honolulu and teamed with FBI agents on a 15-hour search that ended when they arrested him at the supermarket, said Sgt. Jeff Plank of the Utah Department of Public Safety, who was assigned to the FBI’s cybercrime task force.

Okamura, wearing an inmate’s jumpsuit, didn’t say anything in court Wednesday beyond, “Yes, Your Honor.”

Rancourt said he’s mourning his wife, who died earlier this year. “He’s been grieving and his family has been grieving,” she said. She didn’t elaborate and declined to comment after the hearing.

Prosecutors say Okamura’s online stalking began sometime in 2018 and he sent as many as 500 unwanted people to the house.

Utah police went to the North Salt Lake house more than 80 times over a four-month period from November 2018 to February 2019. The activities affected the entire neighborhood, prosecutors have said.

Okamura also sent the woman extensive and repeated texts and voicemails, authorities said.

In May, the woman received an email telling her she should “sleep with one eye open and keep looking over her shoulder.” The email also said: “You should just kill yourself and do your family a favor,” charging documents show.

Prosecutors have said they have records from Okamura’s cellphone and Apple ID to support the charges.

Walt Gilmore did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

____

McCombs reported from Salt Lake City.

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