On October 29, 1991 James “Jim” Arthur was shot dead in the streets of Bellfontaine, OH. Earlier that year his pageant queen wife had been Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for January.
James had been very supportive of his wife’s goals, but unfortunately her blossoming fame led to his early demise.
Who was Stacy Arthur?
Stacy graduated from high school in 1986. She was a quiet, beautiful girl who liked to do crafts and ceramic work.
In 1988, she managed a craft store in Bellefontaine, OH. At age 19 she started dating 34-year-old James Arthur who owned a tanning salon in the same building as her craft store.
They married June 4, 1988. At her young age, Stacy had been married before and had a daughter from that relationship. James had also been married before and had three children.
Stacy adopted James’ daughter Danielle in 1989.
After the married, Stacy pursued pageants and modeling. In June 1990, Stacy won Miss Ohio.
James supported Stacy’s dreams, including her aspirations for Playboy. They stopped into Playboy’s headquarters at the time in Chicago while Stacy was there for another modeling gig.
Stacy’s ascent to fame
December of 1990 Stacy went the U.S.S.R. to compete in the Mrs. America Pageant. Stacy placed in the top ten of the competition, and while she was there it was announced that she would be Playmate of the Month for January 1991.
This shocked the pageant community, but Stacy was excited to be the first pageant queen to be a Playboy centerfold.
Stacy wanted to use her burgeoning clout to build a country music career, and this was a goal that Playboy wanted to help her achieve. She also hoped to be Playmate of the Year that year.
Anonymous phone calls
Playboy had a feature they advertised in their magazine: fans could dial a 1-900 numbers where they could pay to hear messages from the women. They could also sometimes speak directly to the women.
Stacy saw this as a good opportunity to help solidify her spot as Playmate of the year. It was also a chance to earn some extra money, which she and James needed at the time.
The women were told to be very careful while conversing with the men, and they would be disconnected if they tried to talk dirty.
Fans paid $3-a-minute, and the women made about $50-an-hour to speak with the anonymous callers.
Sometimes, though, the men could be crafty with trying to get information out of the girls.
The magazine also provided some personality information about the girls on the back of the centerfold in the magazine written in her handwriting.
All of this created an illusion that the fans actually knew the girls, a sort of parasocial relationship that is much more common in the era of social media.
An obsessed fan
One fan who felt a little too connected was 32-year-old James Lindberg, who would call often. James would become the top caller to the phone line. He spent $15,000 on the line, which was no small sum for him as an often out-of-work trucker.
He was never inappropriate, but he was always very serious.
He didn’t have much of a sense of humor. 1992 Playmate of the Year Corinna Harney-Jones often worked the lines and spoke with James. During episode 2 of The Playboy Murders Corinna remembers that James brought up a detail from her information card about how she used to through water balloons at tourists in Las Vegas.
James Lindberg berated Corinna for doing this, and she would apologize profusely.
A parasocial relationship
His interest turned to Stacy and soon he was talking with her the most. By March James Lindberg was calling so much that Playboy put in a time limit.
One day, James Lindberg got mad and didn’t call back for a week. He apologized to Stacy and sent her 70 pink balloons.
He liked to pick out details like this. Because Stacy would often speak to him about her husband and children, so he thought they had a genuine friendship.
In late September 1991, James stopped calling. Stacy sought him out and called James to ask if he was okay.
James asked Stacy to meet up with him when she and her husband came out to California to the Playboy mansion. Once she got there, she was too busy so she didn’t meet up with him.
The deadly spiral
After not getting to see Stacy in real life, James Lindberg started calling Stacy to tell her that he was in love with her.
Stacy tried to let James down gently by asking him to please take a break via a voice message. This sparked James to take a train to Stacy’s town in Ohio.
He checked into a hotel in Bellfontaine, OH, where he stayed for a few days. He bought Stacy gifts at a gift shop. When he tried to find Stacy to give her the gifts, he ran into her husband and gave him the gifts.
They got into an intense conversation that led to James Arthur telling his employees to keep their eye out for James Lindberg.
He then brought some tanning bed lights down to his car. While he was on the street, James Lindberg approached him and opened fire on James Arthur.
He shot him multiple times in the middle of the street, in broad daylight. James Lindberg then ran to his rental car and killed himself.
Police found that James Lindberg had been recording his conversation with Stacy Arthur on cassette tapes.
One one of them, he left a message about how much he hurt because he was in love with Stacy Arthur, but she was married.
He had quit his job immediately after Stacy left him a message asking him to take a break.
In 1992, Stacy Arthur filed a $70 million lawsuit against Playboy claiming that she was sexually assaulted by three different Playboy employees, two bodyguards and a butler. She also claimed that the magazine’s inactions had led to her husband’s death.
The employees claimed that the sexual activity was consensual. The lawsuit was dismissed and never refiled. The employees were fired because it’s against the rules to engage in sexual activity during work hours.
After tragically losing her husband and being spurned by Playboy, Stacy stayed out of the limelight. She died in 2019 after a brief illness.