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Suspect In Silicon Valley Tragedy Described As Obsessed Loner

February 18, 1988

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) _ A woman wounded by a spurned admirer in a shooting spree that left seven people dead says she was so afraid of the man she moved three times and sought a court order of protection.

Laura Black, 26, who police say was the target of Tuesday’s shootings at ESL Inc., was haunted for four years by unwanted advances from Richard W. Farley, a former co-worker, her lawyer said. Black was one of four people injured in the siege.

Black had asked a court to order Farley, 39, to never bother her again, but she was shot and seriously wounded in her office the day before her hearing, authorities said.

″I have been afraid of what this man might do to me if I file this action,″ she said in her filing with the court. ″However, I am now at the end of my rope.″

In the filing, Black said she obtained an unlisted phone number and moved three times, but Farley continued calling her at work, driving by her house and following her to softball games.

San Jose Family Court Commissioner Lois Kittle, who issued a temporary order against Farley on Feb. 2, made it permanent Wednesday.

″This was a consciousness-raising incident,″ she said from the bench in tears. ″It shows pieces of paper do not stop bullets.″

Charges were being prepared against Farley, who was being held in the Santa Clara County jail in San Jose, prosecutor Alan Nudelman said Wednesday. Police Capt. Al Scott said he expected them to include multiple counts of homicide, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

A portrait of Farley as a man with a deadly obsession but no apparent criminal background or pattern of job problems emerged from comments by authorities, neighbors and former employers.

When police searched a motor home owned by Farley, they found a stockpile of guns and ammunition, along with cans of gasoline, Scott said.

″He had a lot of guns and a lot of gun knowledge - apparently a lifetime hobby,″ the captain said.

Police say Farley was a Texas native who never married, served 11 years in the Navy with an honorable discharge, and started at ESL, a Silicon Valley defense contractor, in November 1977. It was there that he met Black.

When Farley failed to get dates with Black, he began living in a fantasy world, Black’s attorney, Mary Bird, said. Farley took pictures of Black and used them to ″document″ their make-believe life, Bird said.

Neighbors said Farley, who lived in a dilapidated cottage with peeling paint, was a loner who never said hello to anyone.

Farley was fired in May 1986 from his $36,000-a-year job as a software development engineer after sending a letter threatening Black’s life, said Jerry DeRuntz, a company manager.

The attack, said Scott and Lt. Ruben Grijalva, who negotiated the gunman’s surrender, was Farley’s way of ″making a point″ that he wouldn’t tolerate being spurned by Black or laughed at by other ESL employees.

″He was in love with her from the first moment he saw her,″ said Grijalva. ″It was her smile.″

After being fired, Farley found other computer industry jobs, and his current employer, Sunnyvale-based Covalent Systems, released a statement Wednesday saying his work was satisfactory and there was ″no indication whatsoever of problems.″

At ESL, which does such work as outfitting military spy planes, president Robert Kohler met with about 2,000 grieving employees outside the plant Wednesday. He said the deaths were ″like losing members of your own family.″

The company said the shootings did not result from any lapse of security. Scott agreed, noting that Farley gained access by blasting his way through a computer-controlled door.

The building where the shootings took place was closed Wednesday, but other buildings at ESL were open.

Black suffered chest, shoulder and spine injuries in the shooting.

Killed were Joe Silva, 43, of Sunnyvale; Buddy Williams, 23, San Jose; Glenda Moritz, 27, Sunnyvale; Ron Reed, 26, Sunnyvale; Helen Laparter, 49, Sunnyvale; Lawrence J. Kane, 46, San Jose; and Ron Doney, 36, Manteca.

Injured in addition to Black were Richard Townsley, 44, of San Jose, wounded in the chest, arm, leg and hand; Gregory Scott, 39, of San Jose, shrapnel wounds to the face; and Patty Marcotte of San Jose, who broke her forearm trying to break a window to escape.

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