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Judge Denies Freedom to Obsessed Fan

December 13, 1989|From Associated Press

GENEVA, Ill. — Freedom was denied to a mental patient described as a fan obsessed with Cher, Sheena Easton and Olivia Newton-John who also told police he killed his 8-year-old stepbrother.

Ralph Nau, 34, was ordered Monday to remain at Elgin State Mental Health Hospital, where psychiatrists have diagnosed his condition as mentally ill and violent. He can reapply for release in two months.

The man who led police to the shallow grave where the body of his stepbrother was buried reportedly suffers from delusions about fancied relationships with Hollywood stars.

Letters written to celebrities that were intercepted by hospital personnel were introduced at the release hearing where Judge Philip DiMarzio declared Nau a danger to himself and others.

Gavin de Becker, a Hollywood security consultant to the stars, said he is relieved by the decision.

Nau has never been convicted of a crime, though he admitted to police that he killed his mother's stepson, Denis Gerken, 8, with an ax on Aug. 8, 1984, near Antioch, in Lake County, authorities said.

He subsequently led police to the ax and to the shallow grave in a cornfield where the boy was buried. His confession was ruled inadmissible as evidence on the grounds that he was insane when he gave it.

Monday's ruling was based on evidence from the 1984 killing, as well as psychiatric testimony and letters written by Nau to female movie and television stars that have been intercepted by mental health officials.

Nau imagines that he has relationships with Newton-John, Cher, Easton and other Hollywood stars, mental health officials say.

Employees of De Becker's Studio City agency kept tabs on Nau from 1981 until a few weeks before the killing, even secretly watching him at public appearances of Easton and Newton-John, the consultant said Tuesday.

Tim O'Neil, the Kane County assistant state's attorney who has handled Nau's case since he was sent to Elgin, said that under state law Nau may file again for release in 60 days.

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