January is National Stalking Awareness Month, bringing attention to a national — and local — issue.
Story updated Feb. 2
“Hate feeds hate that leads to lunacy,” Yvonne Rice said as she overlooked the piles of documents laid out on her table. “That’s what happened to Wayne.”
The former nun and longtime singer flips through the hundreds of pages that tell the story of her ex-husband, Wayne Cummings, who stalked her and her two sons for eight years. Naive and young, Rice went to work for Cummings in Jacksonville after leaving the convent. Over time, he fell in love with her and despite his advances, Rice declined — until Cummings told her his ex-wife was accusing her of adultery and she could go to jail. Believing his lie, Rice fell into the arms of a monster.
“He was the dad of a child I had taught,” Rice said. “He was an elder in his church, a prominent physical therapist, and he even ran for mayor. The whole town knew him and loved him. I was terrified.”
During their marriage, Rice says there were times when things were really good, and she believed he had changed. But on her son’s sixth birthday, Cummings became violent with the child — and Rice decided to run.
“I was so close,” Rice said. “I had just about enough money to leave. On Glenn’s birthday, Aug. 19, Wayne hit him with his fist so hard that he hit the wall and fell on the ground. The police were called, and they had to guard our house from him that night. The next morning I get a call: ‘You’re time is up. I’m going to kill you.’ I grabbed whatever I could and ran.”
For the next several years, Rice and children lived all across the country fleeing Wayne, calling the police for safety and even escaping a hit man. Her nightmare didn’t end until 1989, when Cummings died. Decades later, she’s written a self-published book titled “Stalked,” and is currently filming a public service announcement at Matanzas High School, in Palm Coast, which she hopes will give victims strength.
“God puts people on this earth to say no,” Rice said. “God puts people here who will take their children out of a situation.”
A frightening phenomenon
Barbara Sims, the victims advocate coordinator for the Ormond Beach Police Department, has dealt with a few cases of stalking in the local area. She says its common for the stalking to occur along with domestic violence.
“When the stalker is no longer in control of the victim,” Sims said, “it escalates a little bit. They don’t listen. It’s just a frightening phenomenon for a lot of these girls. I know men get stalked as well, but my experience has been with women.”
According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, 3.4 million people over the age of 18 are stalked each year in the U.S. Though 30% of victims are stalked by a current or former intimate partner, CEO of the Domestic Abuse Council Cheryl Fuller recalls a case where the woman had only known her stalker for two months.
“This person knew her entire schedule,” Fuller said. “He knew what time she got up in the morning, when she went to work, even what time she was taking her bath. This guy was monitoring everything about her. It was brought to our attention because after two months, he broke into her home and put a shot gun down her throat and said, ‘If you ever go out with your girlfriends again, I will kill you.’”
This was several years ago, and Fuller said the woman ended up OK, and was told to take legal action and possibly move and change her name.
“Anytime someone is trying to monitor you, can be a form of stalking,” Fuller said. “Being stalked by a stranger and being stalked by someone you were dating can be extremely terrifying and ... dangerous.”
Tips for victims on staying safe
Fuller recommends every stalking victim to keep all incidents documented from phone calls to police records. Here are some other tips from the NCVC for stalking victims to stay safe:
- Trust your instincts. If you think you’re unsafe, you probably are. Don’t downplay danger.
- Take threats seriously. The level of danger is higher when the stalker talks about suicide, murder or when the victim tried to leave a relationship.
- Develop a safety plan. Change your routine, arrange a place to stay and have people with you all the time. Decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up.
- Don’t communicate with your stalker.
- Keep evidence. Photograph things the stalker damages or injuries they cause. Keep all emails, texts and voicemails. When the stalker follows you, write down the date and time.
- Tell people and seek support.
- Contact your local police department and make sure they are aware of the situation. They can advise you on legal action you can take.
If you are being stalked or know someone who is being stalked, you can call the Domestic Abuse Council hotline at 761-3166 or Victim Services at 676-3529.
Pubic Service Announcement Auditions
The PSA “Stalked: From Nun to Murder Target,” will hold a second audition 5-6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, at the Pirate Theater at Matanzas High School, 3535 Old Kings Road N., Palm Coast. The scene is being filmed by Purely Amatuer Studios in conjunction with Yvonne Marie Rice, author of the book “Stalked.” The scene to be filmed is taken from an attempted kidnapping excerpt of her book, a true story.
"We still need two boys, ages 4-9, for speaking parts; a big burly man 40-65; and two young women, ages 19-35; plus extras of all ages," according to Rice. "No acting experience is necessary. I can train and direct all of the actors in a very short time."
There is no compensation paid for the PSA, this is a strictly volunteer project by everyone involved. This PSA is being filmed to bring awareness to the devastating issue of domestic violence.
The incident is a powerful scene with intense emotions needed from all of the actors involved, especially the main roles, including the young boys. No preparations are needed to audition. Call Rice at 813-451-7996.