NASCAR fan charged with stalking, terrorizing Tony Stewart over autograph

Posted at 3:19 AM, Nov 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-23 03:19:43-05

INDIANAPOLIS (WRTV/CNN) – A Florida woman was arrested for allegedly stalking and harassing NASCAR driver Tony Stewart and his family for more than a year after Stewart refused to sign an autograph for her.

Kathi Russell, 68, was taken into custody Tuesday on felony charges of stalking, terroristic mischief and intimidation for an alleged campaign of harassment against Stewart lasting from March 2016 through October 2017.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Russell made hundreds of anonymous calls to Stewart, his mother and his sister at all times of the day and night during the 18 month-period.

The woman is also accused of calling in a fake report that a plane carrying Stewart’s friend was transporting narcotics, which triggered an inspection by federal drug agents.

The woman told a DEA agent the harassment started because Stewart didn’t sign an item of memorabilia for her at a racing event. She says she felt ignored.

The situation further escalated in September 2017 when Russell allegedly sent an envelope with a white, powdery substance to a law firm in Indianapolis that represents Stewart. The powder was later determined to be baking soda, but the building had to be evacuated.

Authorities say Russell was upset the law firm had asked her to abide by a protective order that prohibited her from harassing the Stewart family.

Russell is being held in Florida while she awaits extradition to Indiana.

Copyright 2017 WRTV, Lee County Sheriff via CNN. All rights reserved.