Taylor Swift’s life in the spotlight hasn’t been all Champagne problems.
Between the money, fame, multiple Grammy Awards and platinum records, the pop star, 32, has experienced some of the most dangerous run-ins with obsessive fans — some of whom are still out there.
“The threats on her life have become so persistent that her security team installed facial recognition software at the venues she performs in to specifically distinguish her stalkers from her fans,” says Jake Brennan in the new true-crime podcast “Disgraceland,” which explores the dark side of the music industry.
“Imagine that you’re so famous and so harassed that [you’d need] technology that is specially programmed and installed to identify the lunatics that want to kill you,” he says in the episode, which premiered Tuesday.
Her violent pursuers have ranged from Roger Alvarado breaking into her luxury homes to Eric Swarbrick driving more than 900 miles to send her “love” letters.
The barrage of stalking incidents has had a dramatic effect on Swift, who wrote a candid essay for Elle in March 2019 where she opened up about her peeping Toms.
“You get enough stalkers trying to break into your house and you kind of start prepping for bad things,” she wrote. “Every day I try to remind myself of the good in the world, the love I’ve witnessed, and the faith I have in humanity. We have to live bravely in order to truly feel alive, and that means not being ruled by our greatest fears.”
Here’s a look back at the “Cats” star’s stalkers — and their dark motives for pursuing the singer.
Swarbrick drove 900 miles — from Austin, Texas, to Nashville, Tennessee — on three separate occasions to deliver more than 40 letters and death threats to Swift, her former label Big Machine Records and its CEO Scott Borchetta, in 2018.
“I will not hesitate to kill her, Scott,” one of Swarbrick’s threatening letters said. “And there is nothing that you or your lawyers or the law can do about it.”
Swarbrick’s obsession with Swift began when he was 22 years old and continued for four years.
“He felt the object of his obsession with Taylor Swift reach out to him in over 100 dreams,” Brennan says in the podcast. “Eric logged these visions into his notebooks and [felt] he had waited long enough to claim her.”
Swarbrick’s letters were cordial at first, and he even sent “respectful” emails to Big Machine. But no one answered him.
The letters got progressively scarier and more threatening, eventually saying that he wanted to “rape and kill” Swift, U.S. Attorney Don Cochran for the Middle District of Tennessee said in a statement.
Swarbrick opted to send his letters in person to the record label and not to Swift’s homes. He knew her residences had “security like Fort Knox,” so going to her houses was out of the question.
He eventually pleaded guilty to charges of stalking and was later sentenced to 30 months in prison. When his jail stint ends next year, he’ll be subject to supervised release for three years.
Alvarado broke into Swift’s Tribeca apartment not once, but twice in less than a year (April 2018 and March 2019).
“Roger Alvarado was among the worst,” Brennan said. “Police found him napping in the bed of her NYC apartment. He just showered in her private bathroom and was as fresh as a demented little daisy. He was waiting for her.”
Alvarado spent six months in jail for attempted burglary for the first time he crashed at Swift’s Big Apple pad. After his release, he did it again.
Police said he used a ladder to climb the back of the building and then used a concrete block to smash through the glass door.
After his second arrest, he eerily told Page Six that he doesn’t regret his actions. When asked if he would do it again, he replied: “Probably, with more violence, but not towards her. I don’t want to hurt her. I just wanted to speak to her, to talk to her. She seems nice [and] cool.”
Alvarado took a plea deal in 2019, copping to criminal contempt in exchange for two to four years in prison.
” ‘A crowbar. An aluminum baseball bat. Lock picks. A few pairs of rubber gloves.’ Taylor couldn’t bring herself to keep reading [the newspaper article],” Brennan said about David Liddle, a man from Iowa who was arrested near Swift’s Rhode Island mansion in 2019 and brought these items along with him.
The police caught Liddle near the home, where he had no suitcases but held onto a backpack full of tools. Liddle allegedly told the cops that he was an old friend of Swift’s, and he was there to get some music industry tips from her.
The case against Liddle was dismissed in August of that year.
No matter who the person was, “each one of these men were the same sick bastard inside. They all professed love for a woman they never spent a second with,” Brennan says on the show. “They were in love with a Google search. Nothing more.”