A man who waged a terrifying stalking and intimidation campaign against the mother of his four children has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Brian Hickson, 33, of Cottage Grove, became "increasingly possessive and jealous" of his ex-girlfriend with whom he still lived, according to the criminal complaint, and became enraged when he found out she had a new boyfriend.
Things came to a head on Oct. 18, 2015, when he followed his ex to a house party and broke in while wearing a ski mask with a skull on it. He proceeded to repeatedly punch his ex's new boyfriend, the charges say, and threatened to stab or shoot other revelers. The new boyfriend managed to grab the knife and throw it out of reach before other partygoers pinned him down.
That same night, police found lug nuts in Hickson's possession and discovered he had removed them from the wheels of his ex's car.
But it was after his arrest that police learned the full extent of Hickson's actions towards his ex.
She told police in the weeks prior to Oct. 18, he had:
- Sent her a text message with a gas can sitting by their front door, and several more implying he was going to burn the house down.
- Threatened to shoot her and set her on fire.
- Duct-taped her to a chair and shot her with a paint ball gun.
Her parents' house was also targeted, with her mother reporting on Oct. 19 that she had found a bag of tools in the wheel well of a car parked in their driveway. It included a crescent wrench, a brass window punch and "several blade-styled edged weapons."
A glove meanwhile was found placed over the motion detector that activates the home's floodlights, which was later traced back to Hickson.
During his trial, Assistant County Attorney Jessica Stott described Hickson's behavior as "a case of homicide waiting to happen," according to a Washington County Attorney's Office press release.
Hickson was convicted on one county of first degree burglary with an assault on a person, and one charge of making terroristic threats with reckless disregard.
Women are the most common stalking victims
Around 7.5 million people are stalked in America each year, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.
Women are the most commonly targeted, with 15 percent of women and 6 percent of men having been a victim of stalking during their lifetimes, the website says.
And in 61 percent of cases for female victims , the stalking is done by a current or former intimate partner. That number is 44 percent for men.
The following constitutes stalking: Following someone/showing up where they are; sending unwanted gifts, letters, emails; monitoring someone's phone calls/computer use; damaging your property; using technology to track where they go; threaten to hurt them, their family, friends or pets; posting information about you online or in a public place, or by word of mouth.
If you're a victim of stalking in Minnesota you should call the police, but there are also other resources available.
These include the Minnesota Domestic Violence Crisis Line at 1-866-223-111, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, and the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Woman at 651-646-6177.
You can find out more information from the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, by clicking here.