Garrett Harris 4 p.m., Jan. 16
Michigan Stalker of Santee Woman Fit to Stand Trial
New details have come to light regarding the case of a Michigan man who traveled to San Diego last year to stalk and potentially murder a Santee woman and her boyfriend, courtesy The Smoking Gun.
Twenty-eight year old Brian Hile, who had been living in his grandmother’s mobile home in Fremont, Michigan, apparently began an online relationship with a South African woman he met while playing an online video game. Although the two never met or even spoke on the phone, they conversed extensively online and began exchanging nude photos.
Unfortunately, Hile eventually discovered that his pen pal was actually a homosexual male.
“Grandma, it’s a gay!” Hile reportedly told his grandmother, Virginia Dewitte, who told the FBI that her grandson “fell in love with the woman” and became “obsessed with the failed Internet relationship and deception.” Dewitte also told investigators that Hile “was very upset knowing that a ‘gay man’ had photographs of his privates.”
Hile, who did not complete high school and was unemployed, discovered through online research that the woman who he’d been sent pictures of was Tiffany Watkins of Santee, whose “tiffytoodlepoo” Photobucket account had been compromised in 2007, with her photographs being widely circulated on the Internet over the following years.
Initially believing Watkins and her boyfriend, David Cranford, were in on the deception, Hile gathered personal information including names, addresses, and phone numbers on the couple, eventually hopping a Greyhound bus to San Diego with the intention to “kill a slut,” according to testimony from FBI agent Steve Kim.
Hile's brother, Brett, said Hile later acknowledged that Watkins "most likely had nothing to do with the deception,", but she "represented the closest point of retribution."
Along with information on his intended victims, Hile kept a notebook containing “a section entitled ‘supplies: trench coat, rope? duct tape, mace? chloraform?, knife, plastic zip ties.” The notebook also contained notes such as “learn to pick lock, get in car, and or work on ruse to get people to invite/let me in” and “make certain all info is up to date and ACCURATE—I’ll know where/who to go to and what I can do.”
Brett Hile, who didn’t believe his brother actually intended to commit the murders, tracked him down in downtown San Diego and discovered that Hile had compiled a list of others, in addition to Watkins and Cranford, whom he intended to kill.
Despite being told by Hile that he had already been casing the home of Watkins and Cranford, and being shown a backpack containing duct tape and zip ties, the brother agreed to drive him to an El Cajon Walmart to purchase a knife. Hile then fled, and his brother, fearing for the safety of the couple, phoned police.
When Hile returned to Walmart two hours later, El Cajon Police were waiting to take him into custody.
Originally declared mentally unfit to stand trial by a U.S. District Court magistrate judge in October, Hile was transferred to a prison medical facility in Missouri to “restore him to competency.” He was cleared to stand trial on two felony counts of interstate stalking “with the intent to kill, injure, [or] harass,” which carry a maximum sentence of five years each.
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