The only thing contrived about Tracy Kelly is her name.
Everything else is true, contrary to accusations made in the comments section of a previous post.
I interviewed Tracy for about 90 minutes. Im a decent judge of character, and can usually tell when someone is not being truthful, or if they have issues with emotional stability. Tracy came across as highly credible and absolutely believable. Her attention to detail was precise, and she named names throughout, trusting me to remove or mask them. It helped, as well, that I already knew some of her stories to be true.
Moreover, its significant that a high profile media personality is telling me all this; the allegations in themselves are newsworthy. Since the series started, I have received confirmation from a co-worker, who witnessed more recent events, and a friend who attended the social event (in part 4) and confirmed events of that evening, and more.
That said, its no fun being called a laughing stock, so I placed a few calls of my own. And I got the clincher I was looking for, from Helen Cleary-Escott, a communications officer with the RCMP.
Through her work, Cleary-Escott became familiar with at least two of the more serious cases referenced by Tracy. Furthermore, as a former media personality herself, Cleary-Escott has known Tracy for many years. Not only does she verify the truth of Tracys experience, Cleary-Escott has had more than a few bizarre encounters of her own including a stalker who showed up at her wedding, with plans to kidnap her.
Tracys story is true, very true, Cleary-Escott said in an interview. We can confirm that that did happen, she did contact me personally and we did have (her allegations) looked at on two occasions that were in our jurisdiction. Those were true. She had the letters and I have seen the letters For some reason, she is a target. That girl has been tortured. I dont know how she stays in the business.
Cleary-Escott said she thought about her immediately on reading part 1 of this series, and wondered if Tracy would be interviewed.
When I read part 2, I knew right away who it was, Cleary-Escott said.
Cleary-Escott worked 15 years in both radio and TV, including a regular stint on OZ FMs Dawn Patrol. She knew Tracy well and says they became close friends.
Weve had hundreds of conversations about this (subject), Cleary-Escott said. I fear for her. I really do. She has told me those stories and I have seen those stories happen to her. I know about the guy who used to watch her from outside her house, when her boyfriend left. Ive seen people come to the switchboard looking for her. People show up on her doorstep ringing her doorbell, just wanting to see her. I know shes endured a lot. It really says a lot for her character that she keeps doing it. Shes very strong. A lot stronger than people think she is
If I ever get a call saying Tracy has been attacked, I will not be surprised.
Cleary-Escott is able to identify with Tracys story. She says she experienced similar treatment, whilst working in media.
I ran into those problems over and over again, she said. People just become obsessed with you People think they develop some sort of connection because they hear you every day on the radio. They think they know you, and start calling every day as if they were a friend, and showing up (at events) where youre going to be. Ive had friends in broadcasting, other announcers, who have had the same thing happen to them. Just last year a friend had to go to the police because a person was stalking them.
It started early in her career, while working with VOCM, and never stopped, Cleary-Escott said.
My manager at VOCM came in and sat with me several nights because I was getting so many threatening calls from this one guy, who actually ended up coming to the station looking for me, she said. When I went to OZ, the problems continued. And you start to wonder, is it me? Am I somehow flirting or leading them on? But the fact is, theres a lot of lonely people out there, and people with mental health problems, and sometimes one meets the other. Theyre listening to you every night, they think youre talking directly to them, and they make a connection with you. Then they phone and youre nice to them. And they may not have many people in their lives who are nice to them, who listen to them and talk to them. And then they start phoning every night, and now you are friends.
She gets female stalkers too, though its nothing sexual, Cleary-Escott said. They want to be your best friend. They phone every night wanting to talk, like a sister or good friend. But they can be forceful and persistent. One called my mothers place looking for me, because I wasnt on the air. I was on vacation. She said, Oh I kinda missed taking to you so I figured Id track you down. I finally had to say, well, okay, but were not friends or anything. She was really upset. She really thought we were best friends. She would call and say, Oh, you played that song for me because you knew I was feeling down, and you would explain, no, you have a play list. But she would call back the next night and say the same thing and when you get firm with them, they cry, and you wonder if you are making them suicidal.
She said the night shift was the worst time for encountering lonely people. They just keep calling all night long. And Christmas Christmas is a horrible time to work in radio.
One day, she called in sick. At 9 am, she said, her doorbell rang. It was a guy, driving a truck. He said, Oh, just wondering why you arent at work today. I said What?
There are seemingly harmless, even humorous, stories, but even these have a potentially dark side, depending on the intent of the stalker.
There was one guy who followed me every day on a bicycle. Every day, I would go out and get in the truck, and hed be sitting there on his bicycle. I would head down Logy Bay Road and hed be pedaling along right behind me. Finally, one day I went over to him and said, Listen, I lose you as soon as I get to Newfoundland Drive! Why dont you just give it up? But there would also be notes on top of the truck windshield, little teddy bears tied to the mirror, whatever. It was frightening to know that people had that access to you.
The most bizarre and chilling experienced happened that is, almost happened - during her wedding.
One of these people who would call all the time showed up at my wedding. And I didnt know he was there. He always phoned so I didnt know what he looked like. What happened was, (some time) after the wedding I was down on George Street hosting an event, and this guy came up and introduced himself as this (repeat) caller. I told him I didnt recognize him. He said, Oh? You dont recognize me at all? Thats really funny because I was at your wedding. We were waiting just outside the Basilica, me and a friend, and our plan was, we were going to pull you out of the church. Their plan was to stop the wedding. He said they saw me walk in with my oldest brother, who is over six feet tall, a big man, and decided it probably wasnt a good idea. They stayed for the wedding and left after the ceremony.
It was a surreal moment for Cleary-Escott. She said the man laughed while telling the story, as if it was a practical joke that somehow fizzled.
I saw nothing funny about it, Cleary-Escott said. I was just in shock. I didnt know how to take it I remember breaking into a cold sweat. My wedding received as much publicity as Charles and Diana. I was doing the Dawn Patrol at the time, and so talk about my wedding was part of the show. Back then, I didnt mind saying I was getting married at the Basilica. I wouldnt do that now. It was frightening. Really frightening.
As bad as the stalkers can be, Cleary-Escott said, the rumours are even more hurtful. The stories are outrageous, persistent and pervasive, and are repeated by otherwise ordinary people.
The rumours that were spread about me were just horrible. People said I was going out with this businessman or that one. I had a longtime boyfriend at the time, and it would start fights sometimes Well, you were at this event with him! Everyones saying it! And of course it wasnt true. Any woman who works in radio or TV has had rumours spread about them. Any girl. You would never hear stories about the males though. Though they did get some stalkers.
Cleary-Escott also witnessed the impact rumours had on Tracy Kelly.
She would come home bawling about (the worst one). Just crying on the bed. How many times did I have to go in and sit with her because that rumour had come up again
Between the stalkers and the rumours, Cleary-Escott grew disillusioned with her public profile. I had a small child and decided, you know what, I have a child now. I cant have these constant rumours going around.
Cleary-Escott decided that a career change was necessary, and took a communications position with the RCMP. The glamour was gone, replaced by less pleasant memories.
I left broadcasting because I couldnt stand it any more. When I left, I was just bitter; bitter because it was a job I had wanted all my life.
Cleary-Escott was looking for privacy through obscurity, and discussed this during her hiring process.
One of the things I said at the first interview was, Do I have to go on-air? Do I have to go on-camera? They said, How would you feel about that? and I said, I really dont ever want to go on-air or in front of a camera again. I dont ever want to be the face of the RCMP. Id rather put the uniform out front.' I dont ever want to be in the public eye again.
On the one occasion she did return to the public eye, to appear with Karl Wells on a weather hit for a police-related story, it started again.
When it was over, I was handed a message from someone I didnt know. It said, Call right away urgent. So I went back to my office to call, and this guy said, I was watching you doing the weather with Karl. I just wanted to let you know, if you used a bit of lipstick, youd be as pretty as Debbie Cooper! When I hung up the phone, I said this is why I am never going back into broadcasting.
Working with the RCMP has given her better insight into the stalker phenomenon, Cleary-Escott said.
People just dont realize that it goes on. I have told Tracy a hundred times: you have to be careful. Very careful. You cannot take chances any more. You cannot be nice to them any more. Being nice leads them on, I know that now. Through policing, I understand that. Bosses used to say, Be nice to everyone, theyre listeners. But through policing I understand that being nice leads them on. You have to stop the relationship right away. Its okay to be rude. And thats one reason why women end up getting stalkers, they dont want to be rude.