When guards at Spain’s Estremera prison searched Arndt Meyer’s cell last October in search of a phone, they stumbled across a photograph of the actress he was convicted of trying to murder in 2009. It was pasted in an album along with photos of seven other actors, leading the authorities to categorize him as a “sick obsessive.”
In 2010 Meyer, who was sentenced to eight years for attempting to kill actor Sara Casasnovas with a crossbow as she emerged from the theater where she had been performing, had attached a note to each photo. “This is exactly my type of body and skin,” says one. “In an ideal world, a girl like this would be the kind of woman I would make sweet love to and have children with. I would marry her,” says another. “The love of my life should have a face like this,” reads the next.
The eight actors were called to the courthouse in Plaza Castilla and ushered in through the back door to avoid media attention to be told by a judge that their photographs were in the album belonging to Meyer, 48, who has been diagnosed with a personality disorder. They were also told that Meyer is due to be released on May 30, having served his sentence.
Prison reports on Meyer say he is “potentially dangerous” and could “approach and attack in the future.” Consequently, the actors are now under police protection and will not be named by the media.
Casasnovas’ lawyer, meanwhile, has asked Madrid's regional government and its Provincial Court for an immediate expulsion order upon the stalker’s release. The request has been rejected by the Provincial Court while the regional government has agreed to an ordinary expulsion order, which gives Meyer 30 days to leave the country voluntarily following his release.
The search for a phone in Meyer’s cell followed a series of anonymous calls reported by Casasnovas in the early hours of the morning between 2015 and 2016. She also told police about the existence of a Facebook page featuring 80 photos of herself. The title of the page was “Tied Up” and the photos were shots from a play showing the actress gagged and bound with a gun to her head. The page was taken down but an investigation failed to prove a link to Meyer.
After scrutinizing Meyer’s notes, prison staff became aware of scorn toward Sara Casasnovas, with his obsession shifting to the seven other actors, six of whom are Spanish and one American. “I don't want her features for my children,” he wrote of Casasnovas. “I only want her to introduce me to the world of television so I can get to know women that I really like.”
This doesn't mean Casasnovas is out of danger, however, say the authorities. “We can't rule out the possibility of Meyer trying to find the victim to make her understand she is not his type and that he is looking for a different kind of girl,” says the prison report.
Arndt Meyer arrived in Spain in 2009 with an obsessive need to declare his love to actress Sara Casasnovas. After sending a number of letters to the actress and receiving no reply, he decided it was time to act. He began by gifting her a lighter engraved with both their names. Then he sent her a rose and a letter. Their last encounter took place on June 9, 2009, at 9:30 PM.
Meyer was waiting for Casasnovas at the exit of the Reina Victoria Theater on Carrera de San Jerónimo in Madrid. Casasnovas appeared with a group of actors after the evening performance of The Night of the Iguana. The German asked her about the letters. Casasnovas brushed him off. So Meyer took a military crossbow from his rucksack and shot an arrow that hit the sleeve of another actor. No one was hurt. Casasnovas and her companions were able to hold Meyer while they called the police.
On his arrest, Meyer was found to be carrying two crossbows, a Taser-style gun, a defense aerosol and 13 metal-tipped arrows. He told the judge that working in security in Germany had made him paranoid and fearful of an attack on his person.
Meanwhile, Meyer said a prison visitor working for a religious NGO sent him the photos in three installments in 2016, the last arriving a month before the raid on his cell. The visitor was stopped from having any contact with Meyer.
In less than four weeks Meyer will be released and at large for 30 days in Spain, despite the fact that only last October he was denied a temporary seven-day release from prison due to the security threat he is believed to pose.
The risk of Meyer’s 30 days at large
Sara Casasnovas, the actor Arndt Meyer attempted to kill in 2009, has requested the prisoner’s expulsion from Spain on his release on May 30.
Madrid's Provincial Court has rejected the request, ordering Meyer to wear a tracking device to make sure he complies with a restraining order to keep him away from Casasnovas until 2020.
The regional government, however, has agreed to an ordinary expulsion order that will oblige Meyer to leave the country within 30 days, during which time he will have freedom of movement. “The prisoner has been given a month to leave Spanish territory voluntarily according to the ordinary procedure. Having served out his sentence, an immediate expulsion is not feasible,” said a police statement addressed to the Madrid Provincial Court. “Nor can he be sent to a detention center for illegal aliens, as he needs to be free to leave the country voluntarily.”
In fact, all prisoners serving more than one year in jail for crimes affecting public order and safety can face immediate expulsion. According to judicial sources, it is Meyer’s European citizenship that has let him off the hook.
But Casasnovas' lawyer argues that Spanish alien law says nothing about exceptions being made for Europeans and insists that, considering the prisoner is nursing an unhealthy obsession for eight women, an immediate expulsion is necessary and appropriate.
Immediate expulsions oblige the government to finance the journey of the person expelled. “This is more expensive, which explains why most expulsion orders are not preferential,” say judicial sources. Naturally, some prisoners facing an ordinary expulsion order use their 30 days of grace to simply disappear.
English version by Heather Galloway.