Ricardo Lopez is most widely known for his stalking of the Icelandic singer Björk. He was born in Uruguay as an American and was extremely close to his mother, partially due to the fact that she had him later in her life.
Ricardo originally had his sights set on becoming an artist and even dropped out of school toward this end.
In the early 1990s, Lopez and his brother moved to Florida where he worked part-time for his sibling at a pest-control company.
Over the years, Ricardo’s emotional state worsened. At right around 18 years of age, he seemed to be a reasonably intelligent young man, but was extremely troubled and mentally ill. It is believed by some that he had Schizotypal Personality Disorder, which tends to make its sufferers socially anxious, exhibit odd behavior in the eyes of the masses, and hold unrealistic and unconventional beliefs. He became a recluse and was increasingly obsessed with fame (or infamy), celebrities, and even occasional porn.
He kept a diary that he added to religiously. In it, he would discuss his struggles with his weight, ramblings about his job, and his extremely low self-esteem.
Around 1993, he began to become enamored by the Icelandic singer Björk. For three years, he followed her career and her life away from the spotlight to a compulsive degree.
In 1996, however, Ricardo learned of Björk’s relationship with musician, DJ and actor, Goldie – and he was not happy about it. He referred to Goldie in racist terms (Goldie is of Jamaican and Scottish descent), and described Björk’s relationship with Goldie as his (own) “breaking point.”
Also in 1996, Ricardo’s life entered further into its downward spiral, never to right itself.
Between January and September of that year, he continued to write in his diary and began recording a video diary. In his written version, he would discuss many things; murder, suicide, his extremely low self-esteem – and Björk.
He had a habit of sitting and doing the video portion in his underwear, or more often, naked. He almost seemed at home talking into a camera. It was often in the wee hours of the morning and showed him wide awake.
But what changed it to quite abnormal was what he then discussed and showed the process of doing. To the layperson running across this video diary, he wouldn’t stand out as particularly odd or different from many other people…until they got to the parts about Bjork, his planned gift to her, and the infamy with which he planned to leave this world. He documented his growing disdain for Björk. He showed us the building of his earlier prototype bomb for taking her out of this world. He also showed us testing of the new and “improved” version of it.
I have personally watched the entire 19+ hours long video diary and did so after seeing its deadly conclusion. He really did seem quite intelligent; just not well, mentally.
The bomb he was constructing was inside of a hollowed-out book which he had attempted to make look as if it had been sent by her record label. If all went according to his plan, when she opened it, it would spray her with sulfuric acid. This, he reasoned, would make him “the one person who changed her life the most.”
Also in the seemingly endless volume of video footage, was the emotional and mental decline Lopez was experiencing. Besides the obvious – the bomb-making, Ricardo’s demeanor seemed dismissive throughout, about the seriousness of what he was actually doing and what he had planned; a murder, and perhaps even more helplessly, his own death by his own hand.
I won’t lie, ladies and gentlemen; watching his unrecoverable trek down this dark and lonely path hurt my heart for him. But this doesn’t change the fact that he had planned to do very real damage to a fellow human being.
At 10:05 am, he starts cutting his hair off with a pair of scissors. About a minute later, he explains that he’s doing this to make it “easier on them” when they find his body; depersonalization, as he called it – minutes later, calling it his “execution look.”
At exactly noon, his face paint is complete. He has what many have called a Darth Maul (Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace) air about him now – albeit a far more amateur version.
Just as it turns to 12:03 pm, he turns off the radio in the background and has a seat in his now all-too-familiar chair.
“Well…um…it’s twelve and I’m almost ready to roll,” he says. “I’m not nervous at all, actually,” he says after a brief pause in his words.
“Gonna write some things for the FBI. I’m gonna start painting that thing now. The fucked up thing is I can’t touch my face.” He then stands up and stops recording.
He returns at 12:31 pm after having completed his Star Wars-esque look, adding more detail, and sits down again. He briefly mugs for the camera again before the recording stops again.
It returns just under an hour later, 1:29 pm, but he is not in frame. There is now a sign with the words “The Best of Me” written in large print, and “SEP 12” written slightly smaller than the former, below and to the right of the larger words. It’s written on an empty white canvas. The sign is perched on the overturned side of his mattress which sits leaned against the wall off to the left, as it has through his entire video diary.
At 1:31 pm, he puts the camera back on its perch and aims it at his chair and sign. He stops the recording. It returns at 2:09 pm where our first glimpse is of his sizable chest; his nipples now painted red.
It is not until this point that the part of his extremely long video diary that has been seen all over the World Wide Web begins.
It is the final moments of this entry and his life that had the majority of us seeing someone who was just “way out there,” mentally and had been in obvious mental distress. We’d only seen the very end of the life of a very, very troubled soul.
He walks toward the camera and bends down and says, quite close to the lens and microphone, “This is the last song. After this, I’m dead.”
As he says those words, he again walks out of the camera’s view to the left.
Ricardo is now seated on the chair yet again. He closes his eyes and begins to take deep breaths before briefly pausing, opening his eyes, looking at the camera, and casually saying, “Last breaths,” before again closing his eyes and continuing to breathe deeply.
His movements while taking these breaths exaggerate what he’s doing. Ten seconds after starting his deep breathing, he again briefly pauses and mutters, “a few seconds.” This time, he didn’t even open his eyes. He simply kept breathing deeply.
He opens his eyes but continues the breathing. Even with Björk’s song playing fairly loudly in the background, we can now hear those breaths.
The song ends, Ricardo’s eyes open for the last time, he turns directly to the camera, yells something (it’s unclear if it’s a word or words, or just a sound, but it’s yelled much louder than anything previously), and then he puts the barrel of the gun into his mouth and pulls the trigger.
The last moments we see Ricardo Lopez alive, his eyes are quite wide open and then they close tightly as he pulls the trigger. The gun sounds not much louder than a small firecracker. At that same moment, we see the unmistakable view of a bulge briefly form on the top of Ricardo’s head as he lets out a guttural and final painful-sounding exhale.
His body slumps down and to his right (the viewer’s left) as he then falls from the chair and out of frame; the undeniable sound of blood gushing from his mouth and nose and onto the floor can be heard.
49 seconds after his [actual] final words, Ricardo Lopez lay dead on the floor. The time stamp reads 2:53 pm. One hour, twenty-six minutes, and twenty-seven seconds after his final video diary entry began, Ricardo lie motionless and out of frame. Not even one minute later, the tape runs out and the video is over.
He was 21. His nine-month video journey meant for the world to see is now over.
It is commonly assumed that Ricardo had planned for his suicide to cause, at the very least, blood spatter on the sign behind him, but this is obviously mere speculation and something none of us will ever know.
On September 16, 1996, four days after Lopez took his own life, an apartment maintenance man noticed a foul odor and blood coming through the ceiling of the apartment below Ricardo’s. At that time, he called the Hollywood (Florida) Police Department.
Upon making entry, police found his decomposing body and his video tapes, as well as the scrawled message on the wall.
As a precaution, the Broward County Sheriff's Office evacuated the apartment complex as a bomb squad looked for explosives. None were found.
Local police contacted Scotland Yard to warn them of the bomb that Lopez had mailed. Metro Police found the bomb at a London post office and harmlessly detonated it. It had indeed made it to Björk’s country of residence, contrary to Lopez’s doubts that it would.
As a result of this, among other things, Björk relocated from London to Spain with her son. She sent flowers and a card to Ricardo’s family as well.