SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — U.S. prosecutors have arrested a Hawaii man they accuse of sending hundreds of unwanted service providers and others to a Utah home, including plumbers and prostitutes.
Loren Okamura was arrested Friday in Hawaii following his indictment last month on charges of cyberstalking, interstate threats and transporting people for prostitution, court documents show.
Okamura, 44, targeted a father and her 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” endured, U.S. Attorney John Huber said Tuesday at a news conference.
Investigators had been focused on Okamura as the suspect since January when the Gilmores were granted a protective injunction 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 victim and Okamura, but said it was not random. He noted that most stalkers had a previous intimate relationship 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 is “savvy” with technology he 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 Friday for Okamura that ended when they arrested him without incident at a supermarket, said Sgt. Jeff Plank of the Utah Department of Public Safety, who was assigned to the FBI’s cybercrime task force.
Okamura’s federal public defender, Sharron Rancourt, didn’t immediately return a phone message and emails seeking comment.
Okamura is scheduled to be in court in Hawaii on Wednesday for a detention hearing.
Prosecutors say Okamura’s online stalking began sometime in 2018 and led as many as 500 unwanted people to go to the house, according to Gilmore. Okamura sent food deliveries, repair services, tow trucks, locksmiths, plumbers and prostitutes to “harass and intimidate” the family, costing the service providers thousands of dollars in lost business, according to the charging documents.
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 say.
Okamura sent the woman extensive and repeated texts and voicemails.
In May, the woman received a threatening email telling her she should “sleep with one eye open and keep looking over her shoulder.” The email told her, “You should just kill yourself and do your family a favor,” charging documents show.
Prosecutors say they have records from Okamura’s cellphone and Apple ID to support the charges. His arrest was first reported by Hawaii News Now.
Walt Gilmore didn’t immediately return messages Tuesday.
Kelleher reported from Honolulu.