Sandia National Labs Worker Pleads To Cyberstalking Linkin Park Singer

A New Mexico woman admits hacking into a Yahoo server to access Chester Bennington's travel plans, pictures of his children, and online billing account.

Sharon Gaudin, Contributor

July 5, 2007

2 Min Read

A former Sandia National Laboratories employee admitted in federal court to hacking into a server at Yahoo as part of her efforts to stalk the lead singer of the Grammy-winning band Linkin Park.

Devon Lynn Townsend, of Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty late last week to stalking, unlawful access to stored communications, and unauthorized trafficking in recordings of live musical performances. She's facing a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000 for each count.

Bennington is the front man for Linkin Park, a band known for producing radio-friendly metal music. The band has won Grammy awards for Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Rock Album.

Townsend, who had obtained Bennington's e-mail address, confessed to gaining the unauthorized access to a server within Yahoo's network to secretly change the password to the Bennington's private e-mail account so she could gain access to any messages being sent and received from the account, according to the criminal complaint. Between Jan. 1, 2006, and Nov. 16, 2006, while still working at Sandia Labs, she used the e-mail account to view pictures of the Bennington's young children, read business correspondence, look at information about the family and the band's travel plans, and review online billing accounts.

In addition to stalking the vocalist online, the woman also traveled on two different occasions to try to see Bennington. On one of those occasions, she used information she obtained from his online accounts to listen to his voice mail to find out where Bennington would be eating.

According to the criminal complaint, Townsend also created two new Yahoo e-mail accounts to send anonymous messages to Bennington's wife and family friends. Describing herself as "someone who knows too much," she threatened to make private information about the Bennington family public. She also sent an e-mail to Bennington's wife that contained a hyperlink to a Web site that had a story about cyberstalking.

Townsend also trafficked in copies and phone records of the sounds and images of a live 2004 Linkin Park concert. Law enforcement reportedly confiscated more than 800 recordings -- DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes -- of concerts from Townsend's home.

About the Author(s)

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights