Austin woman charged with felony stalking

Published 1:57pm Saturday, January 12, 2013

AUSTIN — Investigators believe an Austin woman used a fictitious Facebook account to repeatedly send threatening and sadistic messages to a woman in New York.

A local investigator accused Sheryl Denise Finley, 39, of Austin, of creating a Facebook account under the alias “Rick Steenfield” to send messages about sexual assaults against a woman and child, along with references to murder and rape, according to the complaint filed by prosecutors in Mower District County Court.

Finley was charged Thursday with felony stalking for electronic messages sent by false impersonation and gross misdemeanor stalking for repeated electronic messages. Her bail was set at $20,000.

The victim hired an Internet security firm to investigate Finley, which allegedly led local investigators to her login times at the Austin Public Library and Riverland Community College. The complaint adds that Finley sent messages to the victim from her own Facebook account and threatening messages from the fake account from the same IP address, sometimes within minutes.

When told about this, Finley admitted she sent the messages, according to the complaint. The investigator told Finley she could not send any more messages to the victim. One hour after the interview, however, Finley reportedly logged into her account and sent another message to the victim.

Finley is scheduled for a Jan. 24 court appearance.