Gifts, Suicide Letters and a Glock: Filmmaker A.V. Rockwell’s Restraining Order Against Accused Killer

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Legal documents detail Jameelah Michl’s stalking of the Sundance-winning director and friend of Michael Latt

Director A.V. Rockwell Photo by Jeff Vespa for The Wrap

The woman charged in the murder of young Hollywood social activist Michael Latt relentlessly stalked his friend — filmmaker A.V. Rockwell — for months, inundating her with gifts and suicidal letters while harassing her on social media after working as an extra on the Sundance-winning “A Thousand and One.”

An 85-page restraining order granted in September details gifts including an Aladdin necklace, a “best director ever” mug, a Black Lives Matter hoodie and a photo of Langston Hughes among those Jameelah Michl sent Rockwell, the writer and director of the film, which won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize this year.

In April, Michl wrote a threat of suicide: “This isn’t a cry for help, my glock is loaded as I write this. I’ve chosen a public place to send a message. One pull of the trigger and I’ll be free. Take care love, Jameelah.” It was one of many such letters.

The cascade of unsolicited attention finally led Rockwell to file for the restraining order in June. The Los Angeles District Attorney said Thursday that Michl is accused of killing Latt due to his friendship with a woman she was stalking, without naming Rockwell.

Latt, the son of Sundance Institute director Michelle Satter and film producer David Latt, was Rockwell’s friend and was present at the January festival premiere.

Michelle Satter, A.V. Rockwell, and Michael Latt attend the 2023 Sundance Film Festival "A Thousand And One"
Michelle Satter, A.V. Rockwell and Michael Latt attend the 2023 Sundance Film Festival for “A Thousand And One” (Mat Hayward/Getty Images)

This week, Michl is accused of going to Latt’s home, targeting him “for being friends with a woman she was stalking,” according to the DA’s statement. “She allegedly knocked on the door, forcing herself into the residence once it was opened by one of the occupants.”

Michl then used a semi-automatic handgun to shoot and kill Latt, according to the DA. She faces one count of murder and one count of first-degree residential burglary with person present.

But the story that preceded this seemingly random killing was filled with Michl’s obsessive fixation on Rockwell and the filmmaker’s desperate attempt to distance herself from a threat. Many questions remain, but the details in Rockwell’s court-filed restraining order shed some light.

How it began — The gifts

Rockwell has been a rising star in the independent film world.

She’d received fellowships from the Tribeca Film Institute, the Sundance Institute and the John S. Guggenheim Foundation. Lena Waithe leaned in to coproduce her directorial debut, a drama called “A Thousand And One,” for distribution by Focus Features.

Michl worked as an extra on the film, at times acting as the stand-in for Teyana Taylor, the lead of Rockwell’s film shot in 2021. The film tells the heartrending story of a mother and son navigating the foster care system in New York City.

After the film wrapped, Michl started sending fan mail that included both letters and gifts, Rockwell wrote in the request for the restraining order.

The first package arrived at her manager’s office in September 2021.

The gifts included an Aladdin necklace, a mug, a timer, shirts, a hoodie, a journal, books, photos and more. Michl sent another package in January of this year. But after that, the “frequency and intensity of contact” went up.

“I know I probably went a bit overboard with the gift box LOL,” Michl wrote in one of her handwritten letters.

After the movie came out, Michl made her presence known at two of Rockwell’s publicity appearances. She ignored Rockwell’s “obvious discomfort with her attempts to connect and build a personal relationship,” Rockwell wrote.

Letter sent to A.V. Rockwell by Jameelah Michl from court documents obtained by TheWrap.
“I probably went a bit overboard with the gift box LOL,” Jameelah Michl writes in a letter to A.V. Rockwell, as included in court documents obtained by TheWrap.

Rockwell’s mother

Michl went on to track down the personal information of Rockwell’s mother, leading Rockwell to request protection for both herself and her mother.

“Jameelah used my mother’s social media account information to find her personal address, phone number, email address and known relatives and associates,” Rockwell wrote. “Jameelah described this in a letter to me.”

In the letter, Michl detailed how she found Rockwell’s mother’s personal information and used it to track down Rockwell’s own contact information and home address.

The situation escalated in April, when, Rockwell wrote, Michl visited Rockwell’s apartment to deliver handwritten letters in which she threatened to kill herself.

“Since her harassment has become more aggressive and persistent, I am now concerned for my mother’s safety and well-being in addition to my own,” Rockwell wrote.

Teyana Taylor in "A Thousand and One" (Focus Featues)
Teyana Taylor in “A Thousand and One” (Focus Featues)

A suicide letter directed to Rockwell

In one of the letters appearing to be from Michl, she wrote to Rockwell stating that she planned to kill herself. She noted that she’d written another letter a month before that she’d planned to leave as a suicide note, but, she added, “we both know how well the police can be trusted.” Michl asserted that she’d heard police hold on to suicide notes and that people never got them.

Michl went on to write that Rockwell is the only one she trusts with hearing her last words. She praised Rockwell’s interviews, writing, “Every word you speak are directly from my soul.”

But, she added, “I’m sorry for bothering you. You’ll be happy to know it won’t ever happen again.”

Michl also eventually blamed her threatened suicide on Rockwell.

“I know you would never tell me to go ahead and end it. But your actions did a great job of speaking for you,” Michl wrote. “You’ll be happy to know you will soon get your wish.”

In the April letter, Michl added a terrifying new element: “This isn’t a cry for help, my glock is loaded as I write this. I’ve chosen a public place to send a message. One pull of the trigger and I’ll be free. Take care love, Jameelah.”

AV Rockwell at Sundance Film Festival
A.V. Rockwell at the Sundance Film Festival 2023 (Getty Images)

An Oscars suicide plan

But Michl didn’t kill herself. Nor did she do so after multiple other threats to do so in future correspondence, via both handwritten letters and emails. She noted in one message that she had planned to kill herself at the Dolby Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

She wrote that she planned to kill herself on the stairs right before the Academy Awards, though she expressed concerns about tight security.

“I had to choose between ending it right before Hollywood’s biggest night where I would surely get my message across to the entire world,” Michl wrote. “Or getting to see you one last time before I died… I chose you.”

Michl wrote how happy she was that she got to see Rockwell’s film before killing herself. Michl saw numerous similarities between herself and the characters in the film, detailing them at length over multiple handwritten pages and emails as she also lamented her own trauma.

This isn’t a cry for help, my glock is loaded as I write this. I’ve chosen a public place to send a message. One pull of the trigger and I’ll be free.

Jameelah Michl to A.V. Rockwell

Silence, then anger

Michl expressed frustration with Rockwell’s lack of response.

“I feel stupid for thinking you would care or be affected by my death,” Michl wrote. “But I think of you, and those 6 weeks together filming, I think about how sweet and gentle you were, how comfortable I felt in your presence. And I want more than anything for it not to had been a lie.” (sic)

After Rockwell didn’t respond positively to Michl’s fandom, the performer started to raise complaints with the film. In an April 29 email, Michl wrote, “Did you know that I’m the only one on the crew who wasn’t in the credits?”

Michl also alleged that she’d spoken with SAG reps and that she covered up SAG rule violations that “A Thousand and One” was making.

“I fixed that by flat out lying to their face about SAG rules I knew you guys were breaking on a daily basis,” Michl wrote. She also claimed to have kept others from reporting violations of union rules.

Her emails threatened to make public that Rockwell knew of Michl’s plans to kill herself and didn’t do anything to stop it, despite publicly supporting Black women. This was followed by Michl taking these allegations to Instagram and other social media.

“The most recent instance of harassment occurred on social media where Jameelah posted false information about me,” Rockwell wrote, “and tagged people I have professional working relationships with, including celebrities. She also tagged major news outlets to gain their attention.”

“Jameelah posted a series of fabricated Twitter posts on Instagram and Twitter from anonymous accounts,” Rockwell continued. “She doctored images to falsely represent me — insulting high-profile Black women, some of whom I have worked with professionally. She falsely implied that I once sold drugs and hate Black men in order to publicly damage my reputation. Her clear goal is to sabotage my public image, derail my career, hurt the release of my movie and ruin my professional relationships.”

At that point, Rockwell said she was experiencing severe anxiety.

“The emotional distress has lead to lack of sleep, inability to eat and concentrate,” she wrote the court. “Panic attacks caused by the anxiety and fear for my safety has meant that I have been unable to return to work. Her messages have disrupted my professional relationships.”

The restraining order was granted on Sept. 15, two months and a few days before the death of Michael Latt on Monday.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

Comments

5 responses to “Gifts, Suicide Letters and a Glock: Filmmaker A.V. Rockwell’s Restraining Order Against Accused Killer”

  1. Floyd Leroy Beatty Avatar
    Floyd Leroy Beatty

    Protective order my a$$! These stalkers need to be in a locked down psychiatric ward. In my life time, I have seen so many people killed right after a Protective Order has been issued. It is, in fact, not a protective Order at all, but a warning to a very sick person that something bad is going to happen to him/her if they continue to do what they can’t or won’t stop doing. This is one really damaged and disjointed effort by law enforcement that needs to be looked at in a micrscopic way. If a sick person cannot take care of themselves and their sickness is causing others to suffer, we should step in and isolate that person and offer the necessary ‘cure’ for that person against their will.

    1. L.M. Pelletier Avatar
      L.M. Pelletier

      You are correct.  Protective Orders aren’t very helpful.  A system for protecting individuals from mentally unwell and obsessive stalkers does not exist.  California could lead the way.

  2. Michael Avatar
    Michael

    Well, if this were a screenplay I wrote, a producer would ask me – where’s the inciting incident? What exactly was it about AV Rockwell and Jameelah Michl that led Ms.Michl to be so obsessive – to actually track down AV Rockwell’s mother and cause Rockwell to take out a restraining order? I would hate to think Ms. Rockwell “led her on.” Either sexually or otherwise. Still, there is no excuse for Ms.Michl to murder someone to spite a spurned affair. But we’re missing a motive here.

    This article would have you believe Ms. Michl was “just an extra” on the film. Oh and sometimes she was stand-in for the lead. That’s how they use extras in low budget films by the way, double duty, non-union. So, if Ms. Michl was just a throw-away extra on Ms. Rockwell’s set, why does Ms. Michl’s letter read: “I think of how sweet and gentle you were and how comfortable I was in your presence.” What does that sound like to you? That’s sounds like someone who was working directly with the director every day for six weeks. The best six weeks of this person’s life, as it were.

    Would the writer of this article care to speculate why this was the best six weeks of this young black woman’s life – that more than two years after the fact she went on to murder someone because she felt so lost and disconnected? Find that out and find the inciting incident to this Hollywood tragedy.

    1. Lori Avatar
      Lori

      She was obviously delusional. People with obsessive disorders like this don’t need any encouragement. Don’t they say most homicidal people are also suicidal? This is a mentally deranged, unhinged individual and her thinking is not rational. 

  3. Michael Avatar
    Michael

    Here’s another question. If Jameelah Michl was a resident of Los Angeles and “One Thousand and One” was shot in Brooklyn, how did she end up on the film as “an extra”? Extras are always hired on location. Unless there is a special relationship between the principal members of production: ie the director or producer and the aforementioned “extra.” It’s not unusual for a producer or director or lead actor to transport their personal preference of stand-in extra to location.

    I’m going out on a limb here but this whole case turns on whether or not Rockwell and Michl were involved, or that there was even a hint that whatever kind of connection they had – might lead to something deeper. Let me put it another way, if Rockwell were a man, and Michl had written that letter (posted above) to him and stalked him like crazy, there would be no doubt.

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