Earl "Jack" Woods of Lewiston said he used to lie awake at night thinking about ways to kill the person tormenting him and his family.

He could stop the hangup calls by pulling the plug on the phone. He could remember to check the driveway for scattered roofing nails before backing out the car. And he could hide the family vehicles to avoid more damage from acid spatters and tire slashings.But there was no way to protect his family from the fear and anxiety caused by the harassment he says began in 1988 and continued almost daily for six years.

Michael J. Ceske, Wood's ex-son-in-law, was convicted in December under Idaho's 1992 stalking law. Ceske pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count, which accused him of "harassing by a course of conduct evidencing a continuity of purpose."

The underlying "course of conduct" that prompted the stalking charge was two charges of littering. Ceske was accused of tossing nails in the driveway of the Woods family in January and February of 1993. Both charges were dropped in a plea agreement, said Lewiston Assistant City Attorney William Lambert.

The stalking conviction does not implicate Ceske in any of the other incidents reported to police by Woods.

Woods and his wife, Leona, describe their life as hell during the past six years.

"You feel a lot of anger, but knowing his principal reason for doing it was to get me to do something and then sue me, that he was just trying to bait me" helped him keep control, he said.

The couple remains frustrated it took so long to catch and convict someone. And they aren't sure the problem is solved. When they returned last month from a winter trip down south, they found their pickup truck had been spattered with acid.

Skunk oil

Since March 11, 1988, when someone smeared skunk oil on his Honda, Woods has taken note of every nagging incident.

He abandoned the diary during a 1 1/2-year period when he tried to put what was happening out of his mind. But then he decided the best way to stop the situation was to keep the pressure on.

"I was told the best way to help the police is to keep records so they can see a pattern and catch (the criminal)," he said.

The list notes 300-plus hangup calls, most late at night; 100 times when nails were scattered in their driveway and street; 30 times when acid was splashed on their house and vehicles; and nearly 20 incidents of tire slashing.

Every week there was something, usually three or four somethings, Woods said.

Also on the list is less frequent mischief, such as the time their boathouse locks at Lake Chatcolet were sealed shut with Superglue and when a rock came flying through the picture window in their living room.

Although the Woodses reported most of the incidents to police, officers told them without an eyewitness, there was little they could do.

A couple of attempts at police surveillance were unsuccessful. They couldn't get a protective order because they were not related to the suspect.

Private investigators were hired several times, but still it proved difficult to nab anyone in the act.

One hired investigator kept a vigil all night outside the Woods home, but the next morning the family car showed signs of another acid attack. The investigator apparently had fallen asleep on the job.

Prior to the littering charges, Ceske had faced two separate criminal charges. A 1990 charge of telephone harassment against Ceske was dismissed, and a 1990 charge of principal to malicious injury to property was reduced to disturbing the peace.

Jack Woods said he became excited when the Idaho Legislature passed a stalking law in 1992, making it a misdemeanor crime to maliciously follow or harass another person.

But police told him he still lacked hard evidence to prove who was harassing him.

Woods was unhappy police could not devote more manpower to the case. Considering the number of incidents, he believed the case deserved higher priority and he would have liked an around-the-clock watch by police officers.

Woods finally hired a private investigator. On Jan. 19, 1993, a man was observed tossing nails on the Woodses' driveway. But that still wasn't enough to merit a stalking violation. So another watch was made, and on Feb. 8, a man was seen again dumping nails on the driveway.

With those two littering violations on record, Assistant City Attorney Lambert felt there was enough evidence of a pattern of harassment to charge Ceske with misdemeanor stalking.

Ceske agreed to plead guilty to stalking in exchange for the littering citations being dropped. Magistrate Carl Kerrick set a $750 fine and sentenced Ceske to five days in jail, with $300 suspended and all the jail time suspended if he successfully completed one year of probation.

As a condition of probation, Ceske was ordered to keep at least one block distant from the Woods home.

To date, the Woods have spent $17,512 repairing damage to cars and buildings and paying private investigators.

Jack Woods said he's willing to spend more money, but this time on a reward. The acid shower his pickup truck got in March tells him the trouble isn't over yet.