Man stalked and harassed victim for over a decade after she told him to cover his mouth while coughing
Matthew Cringle faces charges of felony stalking, stalking under a prohibited restraining order, stalking after having been convicted of a prior felony, and criminal threats
A man who was accused of using social media to stalk and harass a woman for over a decade after she allegedly asked him to cover his mouth while coughing during a high school class has been arrested by detectives from the Mountain View Police Department in California. Matthew Cringle, a 29-year-old Los Altos resident, was arrested and faces multiple charges from his continued harassment.
According to a press release by the department, Mountain View patrol officers responded to a home in Mountain View on April 23 this year on reports from a woman who informed them she had found explicit messages in a separate inbox on her Facebook account.
On a closer look, investigators concluded that the sender of several of these messages had been using fake accounts. However, the victim told them that, based on messages she had previously been the recipient of, she suspected the accounts were connected to a former classmate who had harassed her in the past.
The press release states that the case was subsequently handed over to the Cyber Crimes Unit, whose detectives began to parse through the messages to determine who may have been behind them. Because of the anonymity Facebook provided the accounts, the department had to obtain and execute a series of search warrants to take their investigation forward and zero in on the suspect.
The detectives eventually concluded that the victim's hunch was correct and that the messages were indeed being sent by Cringle, one of her former classmates from high school. Bizarrely, police said that the 29-year-old's fixation with the victim started after he coughed at some point during the school year and was asked by the victim to cover his mouth.
The Daily Mail reported that Cringle worked for a ride-sharing company, possibly giving him access to people's names and data, and with the advent and rise of Facebook and social media, Cringle allegedly began creating fake profiles and reaching out to the victim, her friends, and her family.
He initially began by sending them sexually explicit messages, but soon escalated to sending the woman sexually violent and threatening messages. More recently, he took to using his personal email to harass the victim, pestering her constantly on her whereabouts.
Authorities announced that Cringle was arrested on Monday, November 19, without incident and that he is currently being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Jail. He faces charges of felony stalking, stalking under a prohibited restraining order, stalking after having been convicted of a prior felony — he was reportedly convicted of stalking the same woman a few years ago — and criminal threats.
Speaking about the case, Sergeant Tim Dahl said, "This is the first holiday season in over a decade where the victim can relax and not worry about looking over her shoulder. [Cringle] has had enough opportunities to change his behavior, and he still didn’t stop. She shouldn’t have to live in fear."
However, detectives are said to be concerned that Cringle may have contacted additional victims and have asked anyone with information pertaining to the 29-year-old's crimes to contact Sgt. Tim Dahl at firstname.lastname@example.org and reference case number 18-02540.