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Zeta-Jones terror

July 29, 2004

LOS ANGELES: Catherine Zeta-Jones will come face to face today with a woman alleged to have terrorised her for more than a year.

The Welsh-born actress will tell a Los Angeles court about a campaign of threatening letters and phone calls by 32-year-old Dawnette Knight.

The letters, sent to members of her husband Michael Douglas's family, included a mock invitation to Miss Zeta-Jones's funeral, threats to kill her and an accusation that the actress was carrying George Clooney's child.

In one letter, Knight claimed to be Abi Titmuss at that time the girlfriend of Miss Zeta-Jones's one-time love John Leslie. Another note threatened to kill the star "in the blink of an eye".

Detective Teresa Garrett told the court Miss Zeta-Jones was terrified. "She was very upset, lost for words. She didn't know where the threats where coming from. She was very afraid for herself and her family."

Knight, who was arrested last month in a dawn raid on her Beverly Hills home, faces 26 charges ranging from stalking to criminal threats since January 2003. If convicted, she could be jailed for up to 19 years.

The contents of the letters were revealed at a preliminary hearing to decide whether the case should go to trial. Michael Douglas is also expected to give evidence.

The court heard that 14 letters were sent to his film star father Kirk, now a frail 87-year-old, and his wife Anne.

Detective Garrett said: "I advised Anne Douglas to place further letters in a plastic bag. Kirk Douglas used gloves when he opened one. Anne Douglas was very upset. She was very concerned about her daughter-in-law and her son."

Knight also allegedly sent a chilling "funeral invitation". "Home Grown celebration for Catherine Zeta-Jones," it said, on a card which carried a tiny picture of the star.

"Obituary Mrs Catherine Zeta-Jones. Goodbye to the solemnized ASAP Time place, Catholic church, Wales."

In another letter, Knight pretended to be John Leslie. She wrote: "You need to let Catherine know if she hurts Michael I will hire someone to kill her. She will be taken care of ASAP."

The letters were handwritten except for one, which was put together with letters cut from newspapers. It was signed "Abi Leslie" and warned: "We will kill Catherine Zeta-Jones soon." Knight also sent letters which purported to come from Miss Zeta-Jones' brother David Jones and Kirk Douglas's son Eric who died earlier this month from a suspected drugs overdose.

One, supposedly from Eric Douglas, read: "You know we really want to get her when she is by herself or maybe when she is on location. She will be dead before the blink of an eyelid."

Knight is also accused of making threatening calls to a Bermuda hotel in which Michael Douglas has a financial interest. One said: "You let Michael know we are going to kill his wife kill that bitch."

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