ATHENS, Ga. -- A Clarke County grand jury this week indicted a Comer man authorities say is a serial stalker of college-age women and is accused of trying to rape a woman attending the University of Georgia.
Michael Lindsey Stapp, 28, is charged with aggravated assault with the intent to rape, two counts of stalking, three counts of loitering or prowling and one count of robbery, according to the indictment filed Tuesday in Clarke County Superior Court.
Athens-Clarke police first arrested Stapp in 2004, after he stalked four different women at a Gaines School Road apartment complex and repeatedly phoned the victims, according to Clarke County Superior Court records.
During those calls, he let the women know he was watching them, according to records.
Authorities said the calls made the women fear for their lives.
Stapp was convicted of four counts each of misdemeanor stalking and making harassing phone calls. He was sentenced to a year in jail and two years on probation.
He violated probation a year later in Morgan County, where authorities charged him with “peeping Tom” and making harassing phone calls. A local judge ordered him to serve an additional five months in jail.
Stapp’s crimes escalated in 2006, when he was arrested again in Morgan County on multiple felony counts of aggravated stalking, which is when someone stalks another despite a court-issued protective order, or as a condition of bond or probation.
A Morgan County Superior Court judge sentenced Stapp to five years in prison. He served a term that lasted from August 2007 to August 2011.
Upon his release, Stapp got a job at a Macon Highway restaurant, and authorities said the area around the restaurant became his new hunting grounds.
Last June, after returning from a trip, a UGA student was unpacking her car outside her home on Davis Street — a side road near the intersection of Macon Highway and South Milledge Avenue — when she noticed a man staring at her as he slowly drove by, Athens-Clarke police said.
When the man made a second pass, it appeared to the woman as though he was masturbating in the car, and she saw a “smirk” on his face, according to police.
The woman ran into her house and called 911. Police later identified Stapp as the suspect and arrested him on June 20.
While investigating that case, detectives tied Stapp to earlier incidents, also not far from where the suspect worked.
A 24-year-old woman reported in April that she was walking with a friend on South Milledge Avenue when a man stared them down when making a couple of passes in his car. One of the women took down the car’s tag number and gave it to police, explaining it was the same car and man that had followed her into her apartment complex a little more than a week before.
That same evening, the man in the car made several passes of the woman and gave her a “blank stare,” police said, and he drove off when the woman met up with an acquaintance in the parking lot.
The victim in that case and in the June incident both identified Stapp as their stalker, police said.
Stapp’s stalking victims were all college-age women, and his hunting grounds were apartment complexes heavily populated by students, police said.
That’s why police thought there might be even more victims in Athens, home to students who attend both UGA and the nearby Oconee County campus of the University of North Georgia. With Stapp in custody, police released his photo with the hopes other victims might come forward.
Investigators subsequently learned that in April 2012, a UGA student had been robbed of her cellphone then pushed down an embankment on South Lumpkin Street by a man she identified as Stapp. The student told police the man straddled her while groping her beneath her clothing