The FBI, in answer to Freedom of Information Act requests, has released files on Whitney Houston.
Among the 128 pages of documents are several fan letters and FBI paperwork regarding an extortion case that eventually was closed without anyone being prosecuted. But it does appear that Houston paid off the person who was demanding hush money.
Read: Whitney Houston's FBI Files
In 1992 a letter, marked "extortion" by the FBI, was sent to Houston's New Jersey offices of Nippy Inc., in which a woman demanded that unless Houston paid $100,000, "certain details" of her "private life" would be revealed. A later letter upped the ante to $250,000 and claims to have "intimate details" of Houston's "romantic relationships."
The FBI interviewed Houston, two lawyers and her father, John Houston. The singer tells agents she considered the woman "a friend" and "did discuss personal things" with her.
It appears from the documents that Houston's father next sends the person a confidentiality agreement along with a sum of money (the amount is blacked out in FBI documents) and the case was closed soon after.
The fan mail, from a male writer whose name is not included but is postmarked from Vermont, professes profound adoration for the singer. A review of one, however, caught the eye of the FBI as the agency determined the writer "might hurt someone with some crazy idea and not realize how stupid an idea it was until after it was done."
Among the contents, the fan wrote: "Miss Whitney, you are just so pretty and so beautiful. I just cannot stop thinking about you. Many times when I think about you I will start to shake..... I really and truly am in love with you."
And in another letter: "Over the past 17 months, I have sent ... 66 letters to Miss Whitney. ... I have been to 9 of Miss Whitney's concerts and I have tried to give her flowers twice at the concerts. ... When I first fell in love with Miss Whitney Houston I tried to ignore what I felt towards her. After 5 months I had to do something so I started writing letters. I have tried to stop writing the letters and to give up twice but after a few weeks I had to start writing again."
The writer goes on to say that getting no response from Houston was frustrating. "I have gotten mad at her a few times. ... it scares me that I might come up with some crazy or stupid or really dumb idea that might be as bad or even worse than that... I might hurt someone with some crazy idea."
Later, he wrote: "Miss Whitney, why can't you respond to my 70 plus letters? ... You probably think I'm crazy. Well, (maybe) I am. I just can't give up. I have to keep trying. I really am in love with you."
The FBI marked one 1988 letter as possible "extortion" as the letter included a line about the writer making his love known for Houston publicly in the National Enquirer or on The Phil Donahue Show. According to the FBI report, agents interviewed the writer at his small, cluttered one-room apartment and determined: "He believed this 'crazy idea' would have hurt Houston's reputation so he did not follow through on it." Based on those facts, and that he didn't intend to physically harm Houston, the FBI concluded that it did not constitute a violation of federal law.
And in one other case, investigators flew to Brussels to track down a Dutch fan who claimed to have sent tapes to Houston. He accused her of performing his music. In 1999, the FBI wrote that the fan "pledged there would be no further attempts on his part to communicate in any way with Houston."
Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY