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High-tech stalker turns out to be an insider

Teen-ager confesses to harassing his family

April 22, 1997
Web posted at: 3:47 p.m. EDT (1947 GMT)

EMERYVILLE, Ontario (CNN) -- The Tamai family had put their home in a small town on the shore of Lake St. Clair on the market, ready to pack up and leave to escape months of high-tech harassment that even the experts could not explain.

A mysterious, electronic stalker who called himself "Sommy" appeared to have tapped into the family's phone lines and gained access to their custom-built home's electrical wiring. Phone conversations were interrupted with burps and babble, and lights and appliances turned on and off on their own.

But on Saturday, after police presented to the family all the evidence they'd gathered, "Sommy" turned out to be 15-year- old Billy Tamai, who "tapped" into phone lines from an extension in his bedroom and flipped electrical switches in the basement.

"I just want to say I'm sorry," the teen-ager said Monday. "It wasn't supposed to go so far, but I was too afraid to tell anybody."

Billy's parents were shocked to learn the identity of their tormentor.

"He's my son. I don't know how I didn't know," his mother told reporters on Sunday. "I must have been blind... I feel so stupid, so sorry."

Billy confessed to the stalking, telling police that it began as a prank and spiraled out of control. He was afraid to tell the truth, his parents said, "in fear of us disowning him."

Billy eluded Ontario police, Bell Canada, Ontario Hydro and an espionage team hired by Dateline NBC and the Discovery Channel. The espionage team completed its sweep of the house last week.

"At the conclusion of our visit, our team had formed the opinion that this was not a high-tech assault, but rather a low-tech lie," said Trevor Stewart of Nepean Systems. "Our first suspect was Billy."

Sgt. Doug Babbitt of the Ontario Provincial Police said the truth came out on Saturday after a long meeting between investigators and the family.

"That's when 'Sommy' -- the stalker's moniker -- came forward and identified himself," Babbitt said.

Babbitt said that no charges would be filed against the teen, "because the family has been victimized enough already."

Family attorney Don Tait said the episode has caused a "real rift in the family."

"There 's a lot of confusion as far as emotions are concerned," he said. "They're angry one minute, the next they're more concerned about his welfare."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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