May 4 is a day of celebration for “Star Wars” fans, but for Erin Napier, it is a reminder of the day a stranger came to their town of Laurel, Mississippi seeking out her young daughter. The HGTV star took to Instagram to recount the “terrifying” experience.
A year ago, while filming “Home Town” and an interview with “CBS Sunday Morning,” Erin’s husband Ben “started getting messages from lots of folks in town about a 54 year old California man dressed like a Stars Wars storm trooper, wearing an ankle monitor bracelet, who had come to town and was saying some very strange things,” she wrote. “Things like ‘God sent me here to protect the women of Laurel, specifically little Helen.’”
The man moved a block away from the Napiers and lived in his home with “nothing but a suitcase and these toys for when my 3 year old daughter ‘comes over to visit,’” she captioned a blurry photo of toys, including Barbies, a baseball and a Clifford doll.
At the time, Erin was nearing her due date with her second daughter, Mae. “It was really, really scary at the time. When you’re nine and a half months pregnant everything feels elevated,” she told People. “So even more intense and stressful than it normally would be.”
She told the publication no one wanted to tell her at first, with Ben seeming distant.
“No one wanted me to know. Everybody was trying to keep it from me because I was pregnant and stressed out,” Erin said to the outlet. “And then when we got in the car and he told me what was going on, it scared me to death, gave me chills. I haven’t talked about it at all publicly since then.”
The Napiers were not the only ones affected. The man approached the nanny and daughter of their close friends, Jim and Mallorie Rasberry, who also co-own Laurel Mercantile. He said, “unsettling things. Disgusting things.”
They all got 24-hour security guards. “Helen asked who they were and why they were here, and we never told her the truth,” Erin wrote on Instagram. “‘They work with us! They’re friends of ours who are staying with us for a little while!’”
Erin Thanked Laurel for ‘Guarding’ Them
Erin concluded her Instagram post, “A year on, I still think of this thing every day but it doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m thankful for the way our neighborhood guarded us and put up a hedge of protection when we needed it and it further validated what I already knew: protect your kids in the online world much as you can.”
Despite the experience, the “Home Town Takeover” star told People that the couple is sure it will not happen again and plan to stay in their community of Laurel, Mississippi.
“It was such a weird one-time thing, but no, we’re good. We’re fine,” she said.
Erin Is Careful About Her Daughters’ Online Presence
In December 2020, Erin shared a “PSA” on “how to be a decent person on social media” after deleting a photo featuring the back of Helen’s head. While Erin noted the “value” in their lives being so public and vulnerable, she called out criticism over her daughter’s hair.
“But tonight, because of this job we have, after posting a photo of the back of my daughter’s head (why do we never show her face? for her privacy and because of vicious strangers who lurk and comment or could seek her out) there were cruel comments within moments,” Erin continued on Instagram. “About a three year old child’s hair.”