Obsessed with a female coworker, Farley
-a computer technician-
killed 7 people and wounded four others (including the object of his
obsession) in one day at the office.
Was captured by police and sentenced to death in the gas chamber.
Richard Wade Farley
(born 1948) is an American convicted mass murderer. A former employee of
Electromagnetic Systems Labs (ESL) in Sunnyvale, California, he stalked
co-worker Laura Black for four years beginning in 1984. Black obtained a
temporary restraining order against him on
February 2, 1988,
with a court date set for
February 17, 1988
to make the order permanent.
February 16, 1988,
Farley shot and killed seven people at ESL and wounded four others,
including Black. He was convicted of seven counts of first degree murder,
and is currently sitting on death row at San Quentin.
The stalking of Laura Black
Richard Farley first met Laura Black (who
was twenty-three at the time) in April 1984 at a company function. When
Black did not accept his advances, Farley began leaving gifts, including
cards and home-made bread, on Black's desk. Despite her refusals, Farley
persisted; he began calling her desk every few hours as well as showing
up at Black's aerobics class. By giving false information to ESL HR
department through pretexting, Farley was able to obtain Black's home
address and home phone number.
Farley was also known to have
befriended the custodial department in order to copy Black's desk keys
so he could rifle through her belongings in order to gain insight into
her life. He is also known to have sifted through confidential personnel
files of Black through false pretenses.
At this time, Farley was sending one or two letters
to Black per week. Although there were periods of times when the letters
would cease, in total Farley sent about two hundred letters over a
period of four years, with the last letter sent from his prison cell
after his rampage at ESL. Black moved four times during those four years,
but each time she did, Farley had managed to locate her address again.
In autumn of 1985, Laura Black asked the Human
Resources Department at ESL for help. ESL ordered Farley to attend
psychological counseling sessions, and although he attended these
sessions, his harassment of Black continued. By spring of 1986, Farley
was threatening fellow ESL employees, which, combined with his poor work
performance, led ESL to terminate his employment in May 1986. He had
been working at ESL for ten years. He spent several months stalking
Black full time, then found work at a rival company.
Farley delighted in setting up impossible situations
for Black, taking her lack of answer as an affirmative, and any
communication, even negative, as encouragement. For example, he called
and left a message to set up a date, which she ignored. Since she didn't
say no, he showed up at her door in anticipation. When she told him to
go away, he took it as proof that she was playing games with him. There
were also evidence that Farley tried testing code combinations for hours
on a garage opener trying to open Black's garage. He also once tried to
rent the adjoining unit to Black's in the same complex, forcing Black to
Farley continued to write letters to Black in 1987.
He wrote in one such letter, "... The shit has hit the fan... all
because you thought I'm a joke and refuse to listen or understand that I
am gravely serious." By this time, Farley had lost his house due to
foreclosure and was under investigation by the IRS for owing taxes.
However, his harassment never stopped.
In January 1988, Black found a package on her car
windshield. Inside was a note from Farley, with a copy of her house key.
Black filed for a temporary restraining order against
Richard Farley on
February 2, 1988
and it was granted by a family court judge. A court date was set for
February 17, 1988
to see if the restraining order should be made permanent.
Farley purchased a shotgun and extra ammunition on
February 9, 1988.
The restraining order did not prevent him from buying weapons during
that time. He also owned a variety of other weapons including two
revolvers, another shotgun, and a rifle. The next day, he left a package
with Black's attorney, claiming to have evidence that he and Black had a
longstanding relationship, such as dinner receipts, phone call
recordings, and so on. Farley even claimed that Black kept a secret
stash of cocaine that they shared once. Black's attorney dismissed the
package as utter fabrications.
One day before the court date, on
February 16, 1988,
Richard Farley drove his motorhome to the ESL parking lot in Sunnyvale,
California. He later claimed he waited for Black to leave work so he
could convince her to rescind the restraining order. If she refused, he
would kill himself. At about 3 p.m., Richard Farley loaded up his
various guns, including a .38 automatic, a .357 Magnum, a .22 rifle, and
two shotguns. He put on an ammunition vest, inserted earplugs, and put
on leather gloves.
He then walked into a side door by shooting the glass,
and began shooting while heading toward Black's office on the second
floor. Several employees were killed by his shots as he made his way
through his former employer's building. Arriving at Black's office, he
opened her door which she slammed in his face. He fired one shot through
the door, which missed Black. The second shot hit her left shoulder and
sent her unconscious to the floor. Farley moved on.
Farley then held police SWAT team at bay for five
hours by moving from room to room so the SWAT snipers could not target
him. Meanwhile, Black woke up and managed to stop her wound from further
bleeding while she and other survivors hid from Farley. Eventually Black
and other survivors escaped, and Farley surrendered to police on the
promise of a sandwich and a soda. A total of seven people were killed by
Farley, and four more wounded, including Black. A total of 98 rounds
were fired in ESL by Farley.
The next day, court commissioner Lois
Kittle made the restraining order against Farley permanent. Commissioner
Kittle, through tears, offered this comment: "Pieces of paper do not
Laura Black survived, but was hospitalized for
nineteen days. She continued to work for the same company. Farley wrote
her yet again from his prison cell, claiming that she had finally won.
During trial, Farley admitted to the killings, but
pleaded "not guilty", claiming that he never planned to kill but only
wished to get Black's attention or commit suicide in front of her for
rejecting him. His attorney claimed that Farley never was a violent man
and only had his judgment temporarily clouded by his obsession with
Laura Black, and that Farley will likely never kill again.
The prosecution documented every step of the stalking,
produced all the letters he sent, and documented his shotgun and
ammunition purchase a week before his rampage at ESL, as well as his
other weapons. All this amounted to extensive planning, which was
evidence of premeditation.
October 21, 1991,
Farley was convicted of all seven counts of first degree murder.
Superior Court Judge Joseph Biafore Jr. sentenced Farley to death. Due
to California law, there are several automatic appeals. As of 2009,
Farley is still serving his time in San Quentin Prison. Prior to the
shooting, Farley had no criminal record.
On July 2, 2009 the California Supreme Court upheld
Farley's death sentence (People v Farley (2009) 46 Cal.4th
In the wake of this case and the high profile murder
of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, California passed the first anti-stalking
laws in the nation.
Love that turned to hate is linked to
the killing of 7
February 17, 1988
SUNNYVALE, Calif. - A man's obsession for a woman who spurned his love ignited a
violent spasm of gunfire that left seven people dead and four others
wounded at a high-security military plant here Tuesday, police
investigators said today.
"He said he was in love with her from the first
moment he saw her - it was her smile," said lieut. Ruben Grijalva, a
Sunnyvale Public Safety Department hostage negotiator. Lieutenant
Grijalva said he persuaded the man, Richard W. Farley, to surrender
almost six hours after he took over a sprawling two-story building at
the ESL Inc. plant here in a hail of gunfire.
"He knew she was not attracted to him," Lieutenant
Grijalva added, "but he told her it wouldn't end until either she went
out with him or he died."
According to the account provided by Lieutenant
Grijalva and other investigators, Mr. Farley had armed himself with a
shotgun, a high-powered rifle and two automatic pistols. The 39-year-old
computer programmer who was dismissed by the company more than two years
ago, shot his way into the building shortly before 3 P.M., the
Highly Sensitive Research
Industry sources say the company, a subsidiary of TRW
Inc., is involved in some of the most highly classified research
projects of any concern in the high-technology industrial community
south of San Francisco.
According to these sources, ESL Inc. specializes in
the development of electronic systems that eavesdrop on and decode
encrypted communications of foreign nations, jam enemy communications
and perform other functions for customers that include the Pentagon, the
Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Lieutenant Grijalva said that, in the telephone
negotiations before his surrender, Mr. Farley said he initially intended
only to "shoot out" some of the company's computers. When employees
confronted him in the building, he said he then felt compelled to shoot
them for "defensive" reasons, Lieutenant Grijalva said. Then, the
authorities said, he stalked and shot Laura Black, a 26-year-old
electrical engineer, the object of his unrequited affections, and the
cause of his dismissal.
Reloaded as He Walked
Reloading his weapon from a bandoleer swung over his
shoulder as he walked through the hallways, the investigators said, Mr.
Farley fired at least 50 times, seemingly shooting everyone he
As the shots echoed through the complex, employees
ran out the door, jumped out windows and barricaded themselves in
When Mr. Farley arrived at Ms. Black's office, the
investigators aid, she saw him and slammed her door, but he fired
through the door and hit her in the shoulder.
The shooting lasted almost half an hour, witnesses said. In the end, two
women and five men, all employees at the company, were dead. Four others,
including Ms Black, who suffered shoulder and spinal injures, were
Couldn't Back Out
Lieutenant Grijalva quoted Mr. Farley as saying that
before he decided to enter the building, he sat alone in a rented motor
home in the company;s parking lot, contemplating whether he should go
ahead with his plans.
"Then he decided he had to go through with it," the
lieutenant aid. "He said he wanted to show the people who laughed at him.
He didn't want to be considered a wimp."
Mr. Farley apparently gained entry to the high-security
building, policemen said, by firing into an electronic security lock
that allowed him to enter the complex. Spokesmen for ESL Inc. said today
they had no warning of the attack and had no other reason to suspect Mr.
Farley of plotting it.
According to police officials, Mr. Farley, a beefy,
dark-haired man with thick cheeks who was born Texas, began pressing his
affections on Ms. Black more than three years ago.
Although she repeatedly turned down his requests for
a date, they said, he persisted, frequently telephoning her home,
writing her letters and following her in his car. Almost two and a half
years ago,she complained to her supervisors and he was discharged.
Even after Mr. Farley was dismissed and became
engaged to a student at nearby San Jose State University, investigators
say he continued to pursue Ms. Black. Her lawyer applied for a
restraining order that would have barred him from contacting her. A
court hearing on her request was to have been held today, and
investigators speculated it might have been the catalyst for the
Lieutenant Grijalva said he persuaded Mr. Farley to
surrender by promising that he would not be shot if he laid down his
weapons and left the building with his hands raised. He also promised Mr.
Farley, who had complained he was hungry, a sandwich and a diet cola.
The dead were identified as Joe Silva, 43; Buddy
Williams, 26; Glenda Mortiz, 27; Ron Reed, 26; Helen Laparter, 49;
Lawrence J. Kane, 46, and Ron Doney, 36.
Before he surrendered, Lieutenant Grijalva said, Mr.
Farley had expressed remorse about the shootings and said: "I'm not
crazy - I know I will die as a result of this."
The Crimes of Richard Farley
An obsession with Laura
Romance obsession, a type of delusional disorder
sometimes referred to as erotomania, has received a good deal of
attention in the media because of the stalking activities and violence
committed against well-known public personalities. Cases like that of
John Hinkley, who stalked and shot President Reagan in an effort to
impress actress Jodi Foster, or Robert Bardo, who stalked and murdered
actress Rebecca Schaeffer, tend to attract enduring attention in the
press and on television. However, this form of aberrant behavior also
occurs with surprising frequency in the workplace and, in some
situations, can be the precursor to extreme violence. The case of
Richard Farley’s complete obsession with coworker Laura Black vividly
exemplifies the kind of ultimate violence which can result from such a
particularly virulent delusional disorder.
By the 1980s, ESL (Electromagnetic Systems Labs)
Incorporated could be justifiably proud of its reputation as a premier
defense contractor and a respected landmark in the burgeoning
electronics industry. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, and
sporting a modern office complex in the flourishing city of Sunnyvale,
ESL provided its employees with a comfortable working environment and a
camaraderie unique to the "high tech" firms which populated
the area south of San Francisco known as "the Peninsula." It
was, by any standard, an exciting place to work, in an area of
California known for its singular blend of relaxed living, unparalleled
business innovations and modern management style.
It was at this time, and into this place, Richard Wade
Farley would arrive as a software technician in search of the consummate
career. There would have been every reason for Farley to look forward to
the future with unrestrained optimism when he joined the company after
leaving the military. This was, after all, a nearly ideal turn of
circumstances for a man with a much-demanded skill and a high security
clearance gained from a ten-year stint with the Navy. Still, Richard
Farley reported to work that first day with something dark and unseen
secreted within his psyche. Perhaps he sensed his own uneasiness; or
maybe he dismissed it as the expected initial jitters of beginning a new
and challenging career. Perhaps he never felt anything at all. Whatever
he may have known or expected, in less than four years Richard Farley
would leave this company and its employees forever changed; permanently
scarred by the unrecognized but developing psychosis he brought to ESL
that day. His legacy would be one of unforgettable mayhem—that of one
of California’s most vicious workplace murderers.
From the moment Farley was introduced to Laura Black,
an electrical engineer who had worked at the company for less than a
year, he was obsessed with her. The dark-haired, petite and athletic 22-year-old
spoke easily to him during that first meeting, unaware that Richard
Farley had already decided he would have her, one way or other. Later
recalling their first meeting during court testimony, Farley said,
"I think I fell instantly in love with her. It was just one of
those things, I guess." Laura Black, at first, had no inkling of
Richard Farley’s obsession with her.
During the three and a half years following that
meeting, Farley would write some 200 letters to Laura, constantly follow
her to and from work, leave gifts on her desk, and rifle through
confidential personnel files to learn more about her personal life. At
one point, learning that Laura Black was to visit her parents in
Virginia in December, 1984, Farley broke into her desk at the office,
obtained the address of her parents, and wrote letters to her in
Virginia. Throughout 1984 and 1985 his letters were not overtly
threatening; but that was to change as Laura continued to thwart his
Farley would frequently drive past her home at night,
telephone her at any hour, and, at one point, even join her aerobics
class to remain as close as possible to Laura, day and night. Although
Richard Farley dated another woman, and eventually lived with her in his
San Jose bungalow, he twice attempted to move into the same apartment
building where Laura lived. When at work or approaching her on the
street, Farley would often ask for a date but would inevitably be turned
aside by the polite and naturally-gentle Laura. These rejections would
inevitably bring on recurring protestations and endless restatements of
his limitless love for her. She would do what she could to avoid him and
deter his advances; he would respond by redoubling his efforts with more
telephone calls, more harassment, more gifts and incessant car trips
past her home. Laura Black would be forced to move twice during these
years as Farley’s harassment continued unabated at work, at her
apartment complex and even on shopping trips.
Eventually, Richard Farley could no longer take
"no" for an answer and his tactics became aggressive and
cruel. He would make derogatory statements about Laura and rifle through
her locked desk in search of even more information about her personal
life and activities away from work. It seemed that every effort Laura
Black made to avoid Farley was answered with further encounters with him,
each contact becoming more offensive than the previous. Richard Farley
was a man who had obviously succumbed to an obsession which was quickly
approaching a violent finale. Laura Black was running out of options;
her life had become hell thanks to Richard Farley.
By the Fall of 1985, Richard Farley had pursued Laura
Black so vehemently that she turned to the Human Resources department at
ESL for help. Farley was told he must attend psychological counseling
sessions and stop harassing Laura if he wanted to keep his job. Although
Farley attended the required counseling sessions on a regular schedule,
the harassment did not diminish—it escalated. During the period he was
attending counseling, Farley made a duplicate copy of Laura Black’s
house key which she had inadvertently left on her desk. Rather than
using the key to gain entry to her apartment, Farley displayed the key
and a handwritten note on the dashboard of his car so that Laura, and
others, would know he could get to her at any time. His driving
excursions past her home and his telephone calls to her late at night
increased. The letters he wrote to Laura became more threatening,
sometimes referring to his large gun collection.
Finally, in 1986, Farley could no longer control his
growing anger at Laura’s continuing rejections. He publicly and
vehemently threatened her life if she would not relinquish to his desire
to have her for himself. Farley also began threatening other employees
at the company, including a manger, who he warned about his gun
collection, his expertise with guns, and the fact that he "could
take people with [him]" if provoked. ESL management, by now very
concerned about Richard Farley’s bizarre behavioral patterns,
terminated him in May, 1986. They were clearly concerned about Laura
Black’s safety, as well as others in organization. Even as Farley was
being fired from his job, an ESL manager warned Laura once more about
his uncontrollable obsession and the company’s concern for her safety.
Still, even the termination from his $36,000-a-year-position could not
dissuade Farley. In fact, in a letter he penned to Laura just before he
was fired from his job, Farley wrote, "Once I’m fired, you won’t
be able to control me ever again. Pretty soon, I’ll crack under the
pressure and run amok and destroy everything in my path." His words
proved prophetic in the extreme.
For the next year and a half Richard Farley continued
to harass Laura Black. He was experiencing economic hardships, lost two
houses and found himself in trouble with the IRS for back taxes. But
none of this seemed to matter to Richard Farley. He thought constantly
about Laura Black and increased his efforts to gain her affection. The
fact that he could no longer see her at work did nothing to check his
pursuit of Laura. The telephone calls continued, as did his habit of
following her whenever he could. By November 1987, his letters to Laura
were voluminous and overtly threatening. In that month he wrote, "You
cost me a job, forty thousand dollars in equity taxes I can’t pay, and
a foreclosure. Yet I still like you. Why do you want to find out how far
I’ll go?" Closing his letter, Farley threatened Black again:
"I absolutely will not be pushed around, and I’m beginning to get
tired of being nice."
Laura Black, in fear for her life and completely
victimized by the ever-present Farley, eventually sought, and was
granted, a temporary restraining order against him. The TRO forbade him
from approaching within 300 yards of Ms. Black and ordered him not to
contact her in any manner. The order was served against Richard Farley
on February 8, 1988, with a hearing scheduled for the matter on February
17, 1988. For Farley, this temporary restraining order was an act of
ultimate abandonment on Laura’s part. He now knew, without question,
that Laura Black would never submit to his advances. All that was left
for Richard Farley was revenge—and he already had much of what he
needed to take that course. Still, on February 9, 1988, Richard Farley
purchased a new, 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun and ammunition for his
arsenal of personal weapons. He spent $2,000 that day, despite his
financial problems, just to be sure he had everything he needed.
When Farley returned to the offices of his former
employer on Tuesday, February 16, 1988, two days after Valentine’s Day,
he was clearly prepared for maximum violence. It was just after 3:00 PM
as he drove his motor home into the ESL parking lot, armed with his new
shotgun, a rifle, two handguns, bandoleers of ammunition strapped across
his chest, and a container of gasoline. In all, Richard Farley carried
nearly 100 pounds of firearms and ammunition which he transferred from
the motor home to his body in preparation for his assault on ESL.
Walking across the parking lot to the office building,
Farley shot and killed his first victim, a 46-year-old data processing
specialist who he knew. He then approached the building entrance and
blasted his way through the locked glass doors, heading directly for
Laura Black’s office. Making his way to Laura’s location, Farley
fired indiscriminately at anyone in his path. Before reaching Laura
Black, Farley shot six employees, killing four instantly with powerful
blasts from his semiautomatic shotgun. Hearing the chaos outside of her
office, Laura Black slammed and locked the door, hoping to find some
It was to no avail. Farley leveled his shotgun at the
office door and blew it off the hinges. Jumping past the shattered door
and moving swiftly towards Laura Black’s desk he raised the shotgun
again and fired twice. The first shot missed, but the second critically
wounded Laura Black, severing arteries, tearing muscles and destroying
bone in her shoulder. Although losing a great deal of blood, and in
unimaginable pain, Laura was able to avoid Farley by hiding in an
adjoining office and then making a run for the parking lot where, by
that time, waiting ambulances and a SWAT team had arrived. During his
rampage Farley killed 7 employees and wounded another 4, including
Laura. At the end of his murderous siege, which lasted for five hours,
Farley surrendered to a police SWAT team.
Throughout the standoff, law enforcement personnel
later recounted that Richard Farley expressed no remorse for what he had
done and, in fact, appeared to delight in the mayhem and chaos
surrounding his actions. The once pristine ESL offices had become a
chaotic killing zone of the dead and wounded. Videos and photographs of
the events that day clearly depict the heroic efforts of law enforcement
officials helping those employees fortunate enough to escape Farley’s
revenge as they scurried for any cover they could find. The injured,
including a critically-wounded Laura Black, were rushed away for
treatment as members of the SWAT team eventually ushered Richard Farley
from ESL for the final time.
The day after Farley’s rampage, Family Court
Commissioner Lois Kittle declared the restraining order, obtained by
Laura Black a few weeks earlier, as permanent. It was clearly a symbolic,
but important, act. A tearful Commissioner Kittle, in making her
pronouncement, said, "Pieces of paper do not stop bullets." On
that day it was uncertain if Laura Black would survive to testify
against Richard Wade Farley.
Farley went on trial in 1991, charged with 7 counts of
capital murder and 4 additional felonies. In his testimony, Farley
admitted that he knew he should not have harassed Laura Black, but
claimed he could not help himself. He argued that he had "instantly"
fallen in love with his former coworker, saying, "The more she
tries to push me away, the more I try to not have her push me away."
According to his testimony, Ms. Black’s final response to his
incessant attempts to date her was that she would not go out with him
even if, "I was the last man on Earth." During the course of
the trial, Laura Black, still in obvious pain from her injuries, was
able to testify that she had not encouraged Farley in any way but had,
in fact, made extraordinary efforts to avoid him and deter his advances.
Having been grievously wounded during the siege of February 16, 1988, Ms.
Black made a compelling witness against the remorseless Farley. It was
clear that Laura had truly been through hell with Richard Farley.
During closing arguments, Farley’s defense attorney,
Gregory Paraskou, pleaded passionately for the life of his client,
pointing out to the jury that Farley was "one of God’s children"
and should be spared the ultimate penalty for his crimes. Assistant
District Attorney, Charles Constantinides, countered with the argument
that Richard Farley had obviously targeted his victims without passion
and in a manner that indicated no regard for human life. Constantinides
reminded the jury that Farley had made sure several of his victims were
dead by shooting them in the back at near point-blank range with his
shotgun, also recalling Farley’s statement after the murders that he
would "smile for the cameras" if he should be sentenced to the
On October 21, 1991, the jury found Richard Wade
Farley guilty of 7 counts of capital murder and 4 additional felonies.
The following month, on November 1, 1991, the same jury, after only a
single day of deliberation, recommended the death penalty for Richard
On January 17, 1992, Superior Court Judge Joseph Biafore Jr.,
sentenced Farley to death in the gas chamber. In passing the sentence,
Judge Biafore described Farley as a vicious killer who demonstrated a
"complete disregard for human life."
Richard Farley was
remanded to San Quentin prison, north of San Francisco, to await his
required appeals and eventual execution.
The incredible nightmare of Laura Black had finally
reached a kind of conclusion and, in a legal sense, justice was served.
But, for 7 of Ms. Black’s coworkers and friends, and for Laura herself,
now permanently disabled as a result of the vicious attack, there may
never be a final and satisfactory resolution to the heinous crimes of
Richard Wade Farley. His legacy remains vivid and horrific.
Richard Wade Farley was born in 1948, in Texas. He was
the oldest of six children, raised by an Air Force mechanic and his wife.
During his early years the Farley household moved frequently as the Air
Force would reassign Richard’s father. Later, the family settled in
the small town of Petaluma, forty miles north of San Francisco.
Richard was an unremarkable and isolated child, born
to a family that was not close. When testifying in his defense, one of
Richard’s brothers stated that he had not talked to Richard in the ten
years preceding the trial. In school, Richard was considered a "wimp"
by his classmates and had no close friends. There were no known
incidents of problems with the law or extreme behavior as Richard was
growing. In fact, until the murders committed in 1988, Richard had no
criminal record whatsoever.
In 1966, Richard Farley attended community college but
dropped out to join the Navy the following year. While in the Navy,
Farley was trained in computer technology and earned awards for good
conduct and marksmanship. Those who knew him, though, found him to be a
loner, egotistical and arrogant.
In 1977, Farley left the Navy and purchased a small
bungalow in San Jose, California—at the southern edge of the booming
"Silicon Valley". He later joined ESL to make use of the
skills acquired in the Navy and pursue a promising career within a
reasonable commute from his home. By the early 1980s, Richard Farley was
a pudgy, bespectacled man with a puffy face beginning to show an
approach to middle age. He was also a collector of weapons, power tools
and numerous books dealing with sex and violence. All that was missing
for Farley was an object for his latent, deadly obsession.
Park E. Dietz, MD., Ph.D. is an eminent forensic
psychiatrist who is also a respected authority on mass murderers and
stalkers. Dr. Dietz has defined three specific subtypes of the romantic
stalker which can be practically applied in an attempt to better
understand the motivations of such a criminal:
1. The spurned ex-lover or spouse, whose primary
motivation is revenge against the person who has rejected or offended
him or her.
2. The individual who is suffering from a delusional
disorder, who will engage is bizarre and clearly unrealistic fantasies,
often believing he or she is involved in a love relationship with a
prominent or symbolic individual.
3. The individual suffering from a pathological
dependence on another, who becomes obsessed with the target of his or
her dependence and finds it difficult or impossible to function without
the attention and companionship of that person.
In Dr. Dietz’s opinion, Richard Farley belongs to
the last category and, based upon the evidence of the case history, this
analysis appears to be correct.
There are several variations of behavioral
characteristics and criteria which can be broadly defined as romance
obsession among the burgeoning incidents of workplace homicide available
in the literature. From a formal, diagnostic point of view, romance
obsession is considered to be a delusional disorder (297.1, DSM IV) of
the subtype erotomanic. This disorder "often concerns idealized
romantic love and spiritual union rather than sexual attraction" (DSM
IV)—a signification which is well suited to Richard Farley’s
obsession with Laura Black. On the other hand, the strict definition of
this subtype, as offered by DSM IV, is that the disorder, ". . .
applies when the central theme of the delusion is that another person is
in love with the individual"—a more specific interpretation which
cannot be attributed to Farley with certainty. In the classical
definition of delusional disorder, erotomanic type, the unwelcome
behavior typically involves unsolicited and troublesome letters,
telephone calls, gift-giving, visits and surveillance—all activities
undertaken by Richard Farley. As to whether he was convinced that Laura
Black was in love with him, there is much doubt. The evidence indicates
that he was well aware that Ms. Black had no romantic interest in him
and, in fact, desired not to be approached by him in any manner.
In the most strict interpretation provided by DSM IV,
Richard Farley would be considered as suffering from a delusional
disorder of the erotomanic type for lack of a more precise
categorization. From a less clinical viewpoint, Richard Farley was
locked in a struggle for power with Laura Black. It was his clear and
obvious intention to dominate Ms. Black, to have her for himself and
himself alone. When he was unable to cajole, harass or intimidate Laura
Black into submission, he made the conscious decision to murder her,
along with whoever might stand between them. Such brutal actions, even
though they may be predicated upon a well-defined delusional disorder,
demonstrate obvious pathological behavior of the most extreme kind.
Dr. Dietz’s opinion of Richard Farley as an
individual suffering from a pathological dependence upon Laura Black is
more appropriate to the facts of the case than the rather rigid DSM IV
diagnosis of delusional disorder, erotomanic type. Lending credence to
the argument of pathological dependence is the account of Farley’s
behavior leading up to the murders. Much of this behavior is reminiscent
of certain criteria of dependent personality disorder (DSM IV, 301.6),
in relation to Laura Black. Farley apparently had difficulty in managing
his personal affairs because of his obsession, evidenced by a
significant deterioration in his financial condition; he was obviously
in fear of driving Ms. Black away and consistently made greater efforts
to maintain some relationship with her, evidenced by his actions; and,
he went to excessive lengths to win her attention and felt helpless when
he was unable to gain it, evidenced by many of the letters written to
Laura Black. These behavioral characteristics are closely aligned with
the classic criteria for dependent personality disorder. To complicate
this pathologically dependent behavior, Farley demonstrated obvious
traits of obsessive behavior which, in the end, deteriorated into
threats and violence.
The categorizations used by Dr. Dietz fit well with
many cases of occupational homicide where romance obsession is a clear
theme. His opinion that Richard Farley suffered from a pathological
dependence upon Laura Black, combined with Farley’s obviously
obsessive behavior, account well for his actions and provide a strong
working analysis of this type of occupational homicide. When these
behavioral characteristics were combined with Farley’s fetish for
weapons, his highly developed skill with a variety of firearms,
additional personality traits which included social avoidance and a
strong sense of dissociation from others, it seems, in retrospect, all
too obvious that he was a man quite capable of the extreme violence be
wrought upon Laura Black and her coworkers.
Richard Farley being escorted by two bailiffs.
Laura Black was stalked by Richard Farley for four
years and wounded in the shooting.