Two years after Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert and How the West Was Won‘s Bruce Boxleitner got married, they received a tape in an envelope in their mailbox. What was on the tape nearly caused the couple to divorce. But after a little investigation work, the couple realized how the tape ended up in their possession was even more sinister than its contents.
The tape in Melissa Gilbert and Bruce Boxleitner’s mailbox
The tape found in the actors’ mailbox contained several recorded phone conversations of Gilbert’s. In the conversations, the Laura Ingalls actor is complaining to her friends about Boxleitner and their marriage. In some portions, she even talks about how she wished Boxleitner was more like a man she’d just starred in a movie with. When Boxleitner heard the tape, he thought his wife was having an affair with her Seduction in a Small Town co-star. She assured him that they never crossed a physical line but admitted that their emotional connection was inappropriate. Once the couple got past the contents of the tape, they focused on how it ended up in their mailbox.
The envelope had no stamp, so someone had delivered it in person inside their gated community.
“Bruce’s friend Jerry called and told us that he had also received a tape in the mail, along with a note that said, ‘Better that you should tell Bruce about this. He should hear it from a friend instead of reading it in a tabloid,'” Gilbert wrote in her 2009 memoir, Prairie Tale.
“Something really creepy is going on here,” Gilbert told her husband and Jerry. “This is freaking me out.”
Why Melissa Gilbert thought her neighbor had been recording her conversations
Gilbert listened to the tape again and realized two things.
“First, most of the conversations had taken place while I was cooking dinner and talking on the cordless phone as I moved about the kitchen, and second, the envelope was addressed to another house in Hidden Hills and had no return address.”
When Gilbert looked up the address on the envelope, she realized she knew the residence in question.
“It had an apartment over the garage occupied by a woman who had been obsessed with Bruce for years,” she wrote.
“Long before I came into his life, she would cross paths with him on the trails when he was running or walking. She continued to run into him after we became a couple. One day she approached Bruce’s ex-wife, Kitty, and said she couldn’t believe Bruce was dating ‘that Melissa Gilbert. She’s fat and ugly and horrible.’ She scowled at me whenever Bruce and I saw her, which was, as I thought about it, pretty often; I realized then that this psycho stalker may have recorded our phone calls for nearly a year and sent the tape to Bruce to try to split us up.”Melissa Gilbert, Prairie Tale
‘We brought pressure on her in our own way until she moved out of the area’
When Gilbert came to the realization that her neighbor may be behind the tape, she was “absolutely terrified.”
“I wanted to shut the blinds and lock the doors,” she wrote. “If she was willing to go that far, what was to keep her from hurting one of our children or killing me?”
She grabbed Bruce and said, “It’s her.” He knew exactly who she was talking about.
I called my security expert and friend Gavin de Becker, who immediately went to work on the case. His people delivered flowers to her and saw she had a large antenna on her roof, which we surmised allowed her to tap into our cordless phones and pluck my conversations as they traveled through the air. According to the authorities, there wasn’t anything we could do legally. Those radio waves were public domain. But we brought pressure on her in our own way until she moved out of the area.Melissa Gilbert, Prairie Tale
In a roundabout way Gilbert feels the whole ordeal was actually a “blessing in disguise.”
“The crazy lady ended up doing Bruce and me a favor by forcing us to confront problems in our marriage before they grew too big to handle,” she wrote.