Linda Ellis, author of “The Dash” and other poems, confronted auctioneer April Brown about her unauthorized post of the poem.
The auctioneer contacted Matthew Chan of Columbus, who reportedly runs an organization that believes published works should be free to the public online.
Chan calls himself an online cult leader, Ellis said, and posts threats to people who disagree with his views.
“He said I was dead,” Ellis said. “He posted photos on his site of my home, my subdivision and my full address.”
Chan began his cyber stalking and harassment with insults about the author’s appearance on his site, which has now been removed, Ellis said.
“I could ignore those,” she said. “But then he posted a video screaming at me saying I wouldn’t understand anything but brute force.”
The threat led her to file a complaint with law enforcement in Cobb County, who directed her to do so in Columbus. So she printed out all the proof she had, bookmarked websites where Chan had posted information about her mortgage and other finances, and presented it all to a judge in Muscogee County.
“I felt my safety and my family’s safety was in danger,” Ellis said. “He put (my photo) in front of a firing line graphic. This wasn’t a domestic situation. This was cyber stalking at its worst.”
Chan said in his posts that he would be in Marietta soon and encouraged his followers to do the same, Ellis said.
The Muscogee County judge in Columbus found that the threats were enough to issue a temporary protective order in mid-February for 30 days. Last week the order became permanent, according to court documents, and could lead to felony charges of aggravated stalking.
Ellis never saw Chan when he or his followers were taking pictures of her house. She met him in court last week.
“In court, the paper he was holding shook so much it was like there was a ceiling fan,” Ellis said. “He was nervous seeing me face-to-face. His weapon is his keyboard.”
Court documents indicate Chan may not come within 1,000 yards of Ellis or anyone in her family or post anything else online about her. Failure to abstain will result in at least a year of imprisonment, the order reads.
“When someone is stalking you, the littlest things put you on alert,” she said.
“My mother was in tears every day. My husband was watching my back. I didn’t go out at night, or pull into the driveway if there was a car parked on the street.”
Since the permanent order, Chan’s posts are slowly coming down, Ellis said.
He hasn’t contacted her, and his forum is gone, but she’s not convinced she’s seen the last of him.
“I just hope he’s taking this seriously,” she said.