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Tampa woman accused of stalking Soundgarden singer Cornell

TAMPA — Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell and his wife pulled their children out of New York public schools, fearing that a Tampa woman would try to hurt them, according to a federal complaint that charges the woman with stalking.

Jessica Leigh Robbins, 32, may have tried to enter the couple's other home in Miami last fall, an FBI agent inferred from an Internet post obtained during the investigation.

The band's website administrator turned over a collection of hostile posts and tweets believed to have been written by Robbins, FBI Special Agent Bradford Price wrote in a complaint initially filed under seal in the Southern District of New York.

Robbins was arrested Friday in Tampa. At her first court appearance, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas G. Wilson barred her from going within 1,000 feet of the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater at the Florida State Fairgrounds, where Soundgarden is scheduled to perform Aug. 11, or from having contact with the family or the band.

She was not booked into a county jail, so no photo of her was made public. A summary of Friday's hearing states that she has bipolar disorder. Attempts to locate her to seek comment were unsuccessful.

Wilson granted her release from federal custody on $50,000 bail but ordered her to wear an ankle monitor and stay off the Internet. Agent Price said she used it to put the family "in fear of death or serious bodily injury."

He reported tracing some posts to an Internet address registered to Robbins' mother, with whom he said Robbins lives. Other posts were linked to her because of similar content.

The latter was the case with a post that appeared to refer to Cornell's Miami home.

The author of the post stated that she drove seven hours to talk to the musician "but was unable to enter the elevator in his residence because she did not have an elevator key," the FBI agent wrote.

The couple "became concerned for their safety because, among other reasons, their residence in Miami has an elevator that requires a key and because Miami is approximately a seven-hour drive from Tampa, Florida, where Robbins is believed to reside," Price wrote.

Soundgarden got its start in the early days of Seattle grunge bands, an offshoot of alternative rock, with contemporaries that included Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. The band broke up for more than a decade but reformed in 2010.

A year or two earlier, Robbins helped out at a fan event that featured Cornell. At the conclusion, she ran toward Cornell, yelling his name and asking if a manuscript she had sent had been helpful, Price wrote.

Cornell didn't know what she was talking about, according to the complaint, and Robbins' demeanor worried him.

Later, the couple learned Robbins had posted videos on the Web discussing the encounter and alleging that Cornell had plagiarized her writings. She further claimed to be the mother of one of the couple's children. The agent found evidence that Robbins' phone had been used to report Cornell's wife for child abuse.

Cornell's website administrator told authorities that Robbins often posts more than 100 messages a day about the couple, using at least 37 different user names on social media platforms.

Cornell, 50, has a history of being stalked. A Seattle woman was accused in February of sending him Twitter death threats.

This time, much of the hostility appears to be aimed at his wife, Vicky Karayiannis.

Many of the posts aren't printable in the newspaper, but one states, "I forgive her, but I'm done playing games with her, she is not going to be able to hurt him ever again by the time I'm done with her."

Contact Patty Ryan at pryan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3382.

Tampa woman accused of stalking Soundgarden singer Cornell 07/29/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 4:23pm]
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