Category: Mass Murder
Location: United States
Date: February 16, 1988
Crime: Stalked a female co-worker for four years before shooting and killing seven people at his place of employment and wounding four others, including the woman he had stalked. He is currently on death row in San Quentin prison.
Biography: Born in Texas, in 1948, Richard Wade Farley was the eldest of six children. His father, a mechanic in the Air Force, moved the family frequently with each of his assignments, finally settling in the small town of Petaluma, California. As a child, Rich was described as unremarkable and isolated and his family was not considered close-knit. Throughout his school years, he was not known to have had any close friends to speak of and had no history of the extreme behavior that manifested itself later on in his life. He dropped out of community college and joined the Navy in 1967, where he earned commendations for conduct and marksmanship. He also learned computer technology which led him to Silicon Valley upon his release from military life. His latent, psychosis was triggered upon meeting Laura Black, a 22-year old engineer at the company where they both worked. Farley was instantly smitten and over the next several years, pursued her obsessively. He wrote over 200 letters to her, left her gifts and packages several times a week and was ultimately sent for counseling after she complained. His obsession took a turn after that as he began to threaten her. Ms. Black was forced to move several times during the four years of the stalking. In May 1986, Farley was terminated for his work performance and also his unrelenting pursuit of Black. This just gave him the opportunity to pursue her full-time. He was soon under economic hardship due to the loss of his income, however, his pursuit never wavered. In late 1987 and early 1988, his letters to Black became overtly threatening forcing her to seek a restraining order against him on February 2, 1988. The trial to execute the restraining order was scheduled for February 17th. On the day before the trial, Farley gathered up his collection of weapons, and armed himself with a ammunition vest and drove to his former place of employment. He claimed that his intent was to dissuade Black from executing the restraining by threatening to kill himself in front of her. Instead, he sat outside the office building all day and at 3:00 p.m. shot his way through a side door and began gunning down anyone in his way as he walked toward Ms. Black's office, shooting her through the closed door. He then held off the SWAT team for 5 hours before surrendering. Ms. Black survived the attack, but remains permanently disabled. On January 17, 1992, Farley was sentenced to die in the gas chamber and is currently awaiting his required appeals and eventual execution.