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Man accused of using black widow spiders to stalk woman he dated, her boyfriend

BROOKSVILLE — The director of a Pasco County alcoholic treatment center was arrested Saturday on charges of stalking after authorities say he carried on a campaign of harassment that included black widow spiders.

Michael Burcum, 65, dated Kimberly Sonnenschen, 47, for three weeks in March, according to an arrest report. The alleged stalking began when she broke up with him and went back to dating longtime boyfriend Stephen Boyce, 52.

Burcum, a former contractor who is now the director of the A Club of Pasco County Inc. in New Port Richey, told deputies the two were ruining his reputation by talking about him.

Deputies say Burcum then began harassing the couple with letters and e-mails, some of which he posted on trash cans outside Boyce's workplace.

At one point, reports say Burcum put black widow spider eggs in Boyce's mailbox that hatched by the time Boyce went for his mail. Boyce told authorities Burcum keeps the spiders as pets.

Boyce was not bitten by the spiders, according to the report.

Rick Vetter, a research associate at the University of California Riverside, said a black widow bites used to be fatal affairs that have become much less threatening due to advances in medicine. Left untreated, the bites can still cause pain and flu-like symptoms.

"You wouldn't want it to happen to you," he said.

Burcum was released Saturday from the Hernando County Detention Center on $1,000 bond.

Melvin Backman can be reached at or (352) 754-6114.

Man accused of using black widow spiders to stalk woman he dated, her boyfriend 07/06/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 10:47pm]
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