I can’t imagine the pain that comes from seeing the love of your life murdered right in front of you, but it’s an anguish that Nikki Goeser sadly knows all too well. Goeser’s beloved husband Ben was killed in April of 2009 by a man who’d been stalking Goeser, and since then she’s been a fierce and tireless advocate for the right of self-defense.
Nikki had her concealed carry license on the night her husband was murdered, but thanks to the Tennessee law at the time, she wasn’t permitted to bring her gun into the bar where she and her husband were running their mobile karaoke business that evening. Hank Wise, the man who’d been stalking Goeser, didn’t care about the gun-free zone and brought a pistol into the bar that night. Ben Goeser was murdered, and Wise ended up receiving a 23-year prison sentence a couple of years later.
Even behind bars, however, Wise has continued to torment Goeser by sending her a flood of letters from his prison cell. Nikki went public with her story of being harassed by her husband’s killer back in July, and this week she learned that Wise is now facing federal charges for stalking Goeser through the postal system.
“We owe a duty to victims of crime to ensure that they will not continue to be subjected to cruel acts which cause emotional distress as alleged here,” said U.S. Attorney [Don] Cochran. “We simply will not stand for this.”
While in prison, beginning in approximately 2011, Wise began sending letters to the victim’s widow, through her attorney, which lasted until 2017. The communications were also in the form of holiday cards such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day and contained romantic overtures, professing his love for her and telling her that he thinks about her every day.
Wise continued to send letters and cards intended for the woman through her attorney until 2017. Although initially aware of the communications, the woman asked her attorney not to notify her of any subsequent letters after 2012. After 2012, the attorney continued to receive letters from Wise, intended for the woman, but in keeping with his client’s wishes, he did not share the communications with her until sometime in 2019. The woman was highly distressed when she learned of the continued attempts by Wise to communicate with her.
Since her husband’s death and the beginning of her Second Amendment activism, I’ve gotten a chance to know Nikki Goeser as a friend, and I am continually amazed and inspired by her inner strength and dedication to the cause. As the executive director of the Crime Prevention Research Center Nikki has helped to advance Second Amendment scholarship and research, but her mission has always been based on helping real people exercise their fundamental right to bear arms.
It’s shameful that her husband’s killer has been allowed to stalk her from behind bars for years, and while I’m extremely glad that the U.S. Attorney’s office is now pursuing federal charges against the man, I can’t help but wonder why nothing happened until Goeser told the media about Wise’s continued attempts to contact her.
Goeser says that a preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for next Tuesday, and hopefully the judge won’t have any trouble finding probable cause to charge Wise with mail stalking. If convicted, Wise could face up to five years in a federal prison. Frankly, I wish the potential sentence was a lot longer, because I don’t want to see this man ever set free from prison, but at least the federal sentence doesn’t come with the possibility of early release. We’ll keep an eye on next week’s hearing, and I hope and pray that it will allow Nikki Goeser to get some semblance of justice from the courts.