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The Sad Saga of Sarah's Stalker

From: WretchAwry <>
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 95 9:00:48 EST
Subject: The Sad Saga of Sarah's Stalker
To: ecto.;
Cc: kate.;
Loves: Kate Bush..Happy Rhodes..Jane Siberry..Tori Amos..Peter Gabriel..

A few months ago I said I'd keep people updated on the story of
the Sarah McLachlan "Possession" case.  I was hoping to pass
along the news that the case had been dropped.  Well, the case
has been dropped, but not for the reason I would have wanted it
to be dropped.  It's a sad story, and my heart is hurting, for
Uwe, and for Sarah.

This originally appeared in the newsgroup,
and was then sent to the mailing list FTE.



From: ab142@FreeNet.Carleton.CA (James Hrynyshyn)
Subject: OTTAWA X PRESS ARTICLE: Object of Obsession
Sender: (James Hrynyshyn)
Organization: The National Capital FreeNet
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 1995 13:26:37 GMT
Lines: 197

The Ottawa X Press story on Uwe Vandrei. It appeared jan. 18. Ottawa X
Press is an alternative weekly news and entertainment magazine and can be
reached at  A web site is in the works.

Object of Obsession
Oh Sarah,
Will I ever hold you on that shore?
Or only live it in a dream?
Will I ever tell you of my fears?
Will you ever collect my tear?
				Uwe Vandrei
			Letters to Sarah, 1992	
And I would be the one to hold you down,
Kiss you so hard.
I'll take your breath away
And after I wipe away your tears
Just close your eyes dear.
			Sarah McLachlan
			"Possession," 1994
by Jane Tattersall and James Hrynyshyn
	Few people noticed Uwe Vandrei's disappearance 
last fall. His neighbors on Vanier's Barrette Street 
most often described him as a loner.
	Only the chance discovery in November of his 
truck parked in the Manotick woods, his decomposing 
body inside brought to light the end of his tragic life. 
	And yet Vandrei was not an entirely unknown 
quantity. Those that did know him at all could point to 
the source of his pain. But who could have predicted his 
love for Vancouver singer Sarah McLachlan would drive 
him to suicide?
	Vandrei's obsession with McLachlan is not the 
first time a fan has gone over the edge. Indeed, the list 
of crazed fans is a long one. David Letterman has one. 
Jodie Foster has one who's also a failed presidential 
assassin. Even some Ottawa musicians have been 
confronted with over-enthusiastic admirers. They're 
inevitable. But there's little anyone can do to help them 
and Vandrei's case is a perfect example of why. 
	Carey Stevens, an Ottawa psychologist who deals 
with obsessive-compulsive behavior, says fixations of 
any kind usually arise to fill a gap in someone's life.
	If the problem is smoking or nail-biting, it can be 
treated through behavioral modification, says Stevens. 
As long as they're a good reason to quit, the patient can.
	Fixating on a media star, however, is more 
difficult to treat because there's no obvious incentive 
to giving it up. Its origins are also more mysterious.
	"I don't know of a client who's been able to say, 
This is why I do it.' It's something that gradually 
forms," says Stevens. "I don't think they 
understand - and I really believe they're telling the 
	Perhaps Vandrei needed an intellectual and 
emotional partner. For some reason, he couldn't find one 
here and turned to McLachlan instead.
	Other obsessed fans have followed the same path. 
Many of those who's tactics have ended up as fodder for 
the popular press have resorted to gruesome or 
outrageous strategies. 
	But Vandrei's story does not include dead animals 
or body parts mailed to the star. There are no threats, 
no signs of violence or otherwise dangerous behavior, 
just letters. 
	Lots of letters. 
	And a bizarre lawsuit asking for $250,000 and 
credit for supplying the material that he claimed 
McLachlan used as the basis for her song about an 
obsessed fan, "Possession." 
Oh into the sea of waking dreams 
I follow without pride
CAUSE nothing stands between us here
And I won't be denied.
		-- S. McLachlan
		"Possession," 1994
	As do many obsessed fans, Vandrei kept to 
himself. "We never saw him with anybody or saw 
anybody at his house. He spoke with my roommate once 
about the court case, but that was pretty much it," says 
next-door neighbor James Buchanan.  
	Buchanan says Vandrei's home was well-stocked 
with computer equipment, and that the computer 
engineer was a well-known presence on several 
Internet newsgroups. (Psychologist Stevens says many 
obsessive loners are turning to the Internet to find 
some sort of social fulfillment.) In his basement he 
kept stacks of books and journals with titles like 
"Poems" and "Songs."
	But he didn't appear to have a social life in the 
physical sense. Details of his life -- his age, 
birthplace, family -- are hard to come by. His former 
landlord contacted Vandrei's family after his death and 
promised to pass on a request for an X Press interview, 
but the family has yet to respond.
	Buchanan says he and his roommate only noticed 
Vandrei's absence when junk mail started piling up 
outside his door. "We were cleaning it up for him. Then 
his bike got knocked over in the driveway and he didn't 
pick it up. It just sat on its side for days. That made us 
start to wonder."
	Even the building manager saw little of the man. 
He paid his rent on the apartment he lived in for three 
years with post-dated cheques. According to the 
manager, he told people in September just before he 
disappeared that he was going to Vancouver, which is 
where McLachlan is based. 
	She described him as "a nice, friendly guy. He was 
incredibly intelligent, but misguided. There was no 
question in his mind that she [McLachlan] was as much 
in love with him as he was with her."
Let me repeat the lessons that you may not have learned 
well. Time and distance are IRRELEVANT! I am absorbed 
by, bound to you and I can wait a year, a decade, a 
lifetime. I will still be there, cherishing, 
contemplating, waiting.
				  	        --  U. Vandrei
						Letters to Sarah, 
	Other neighbors tell of meeting Vandrei on the 
street and immediately finding themselves involved in 
a mostly one-sided conversation of the merits of 
McLachlan's music. It was clear he was obsessed.
	His letters, the ones he sent to McLachlan over 
the space of more than two years, paint a picture of a 
lonely man who had nothing to live for beyond the slim 
hope of recognition from his idol.
	In one, he compares his life to the frozen Rideau 
River waterfalls, "except that spring is certain to come 
and my winter is eternal." 
	So desperate was he for McLachlan's attention 
that he thought nothing of exposing his obsession to 
public scrutiny. He launched the lawsuit last 
September, then he sent copies of his letters to CKCU 
radio. All that mattered was reaching the siren of his 
	Such behavior may sound irrational, but to an 
obsessed fan it makes sense. Police have come across 
similar patterns in stalkers, men who pursue women 
relentlessly. As an American detective told Details 
magazine two years ago, going to court is "like going on 
a date - he gets to be in the same room as her, gets to 
talk at her if not to her, learns new details about her 
	Rodney Murphy, a Carleton University student who 
met Vandrei at a McLachlan concert in December, 1993, 
spent several hours talking with him. "He kept talking 
about how little faith he had in humanity," Murphy 
recalls. "The court case wasn't about money. He didn't 
need it. He was very well off. All he wanted to do was 
meet her. He was in love with her music, her whole 
	Nevertheless, Murphy felt it was for the best that 
Vandrei never actually meet his idol. "He wasn't at all 
violent or hostile, but he truly believed everything he 
told me. He couldn't see things straight. Meeting her 
would have made the whole scheme even more real to 
Oh you speak to me in riddles 
And you speak to me in rhyme.
My body aches to breathe your breath, 
Your words keep me alive
				-- S. McLachlan
				"Possession," 1994	
	McLachlan has always portrayed herself in her 
songs and videos as a mythic, remote figure. Through 
her management agency, she declined to talk about the 
affair, but in an interview on MuchMusic she described 
herself as a "sucker for tragic romance." 	
	The image she has constructed has attracted more 
than one obsessive fan. In March of 1994 a restraining 
order was issued against a fan who moved to Vancouver 
to be near the singer. But even if Vandrei wasn't the 
most troublesome fan, his death shows he was the most 
All these years your music kept me warm in that 
winter. You warm me so, and we have not even met yet! 
						--  U. Vandrei
					Letters to Sarah, 1992

James Hrynyshyn	  ***
Centretown, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
(613) 235-9465  *** News Editor, Ottawa X Press