Running a background check can be as easy as Googling a name. Whether it’s a new boss, new employee or a new lover, most people do a little digging to make sure there are no surprises. On the other hand, some people do the complete opposite and use Google to find prisoners.
Sites like WriteAPrisoner.com get thousands of visits everyday from people looking for prison pen-pals. These relationships often grow from casual pen pals to more romantic interests. At HotPrisonPals.com, they don’t sugarcoat it. Rating inmates as Hot, Real Hot and Major Hot, interested visitors can look at inmate profiles, complete with pictures and a bio.
A majority of those who use these sites and are attracted to inmates are women. Speculations about why women would want to date a felon range from the women seeking control over a seemingly “helpless” individual, to being in a relationship that allows them to mother and spoil the man. Others link it to hybristophilia, where they get their jollies by dating prisoners. One professor of forensic psychology links it to the notion of having “the perfect boyfriend.” The woman knows where he is at all times and can feel he is always thinking about her.
Whatever their reason, these women gladly avoid seeing their partners daily, foregoing simple things like hugs and kisses while they often have to drive hundreds of miles to see their jailed partners. Even a consummation of the marriage is out of the question as only four states in America allow conjugal visitation. It’s hard to understand for most people, but it’s a very common phenomenon. Here is a look at ten people who found love while in jail.
10. Erik and Lyle Menendez
Jailed for life for the 1984 murders of their parents, Lyle, 21, and Erik, 19, saw their lives had come to a grinding halt. But life in prison took a turn for the better. A longtime pen pal of Lyle’s, Playboy Playmate Anna Eriksson, had moved to LA to be closer to him. On July 2, 1996, they got married in prison. In 2001, Anna left Lyle when she found out he was corresponding with another woman. He has since remarried 33-year-old attorney, Rebecca Sneed.
Erik also got married in 1996 to Tammi Saccomon in the waiting room of Folsom Prison. They also met by exchanging letters. Tammi has written a book about her experience and still drives 150 miles every weekend to see Erik.
9. Ted Bundy
Convicted serial rapist and murderer, Ted Bundy is notorious for having many unsolved murders ascribed to him. Before he was executed for his crimes in 1989, he found love in Carol Anne Boone.
Despite Bundy’s arrest for sexually assaulting and murdering women, he had a cult of women who were adamant that he was innocent. One of them, Carol, who was a former co-worker, moved to Florida to be near him. In 1980, while questioning her at his murder trial (he chose to represent himself), he asked her to marry him. She agreed and they got married right then and there.
Despite rules barring conjugal visits, she got pregnant and had a baby girl in 1982.
8. Damien Echols
In 1994, following the murders of three young boys, Damien Wayne Echols, Jessie Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin were arrested. Though the case was plagued with poor police work and lacked substantial evidence, two of the teens were sentenced to life imprisonment and a death sentence was issued to Echols. The case came to be know as “The West Memphis Three”.
For the next 18 years, the teens maintained their innocence, but they remained behind bars. Echols had been receiving letters from people who believed in his innocence for a while, when Lorri Davis wrote to him.
They soon became firm friends and she flew out to Arkansas to visit him every other month. Love blossomed and they got married in prison in 1999. In 2011, Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley were released on an Alford plea. Echols and Davis are still together living in Salem, USA.
7. Richard Ramirez
Known as the “Night Stalker”, Ramirez was found guilty of crimes ranging from rape to murder with machetes and hammers. A staunch Satanist, Ramirez was finally captured in August 1985 and after his trial, was found guilty of 13 murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries. He was sentenced to death for each of the murders in 1989.
While in prison, magazine editor Doreen Lioy started sending him letters in prison. 70 letters later, he proposed to her and they got married in 1996 behind bars. Such was her love for him that she constantly stated that she would kill herself if he was ever executed. They were separated before his death from cancer in 2013.
6. Zayd Rashid
Asha Bandele, a former Essence Magazine editor-at-large met Zayd Rashid, who was serving 20 years for murder, at a prison poetry recital. This seemed an unlikely pairing as Asha was a prim-and-proper Manhattanite and a well-educated author. Rashid was a street criminal and a murderer, but they somehow hit it off.
Over the next seven years, through visits, phone calls and letters, they courted and finally got married. Due to New York’s granting of conjugal visits, they were able to spend time together resulting in the birth of one of their daughters.
They have since separated, and Rashid has been deported to his native Guyana.
5. Susan Denise Atkins
A former member of Manson’s infamous cult, Susan Denise Atkins a.k.a Sadie Mae Glutz, found love behind bars multiple times. Accused of murdering another Manson Family member, Gary Hinman, Atkins was jailed in 1969.
Initially sentenced to death in 1971, she later had her sentence changed to life behind bars. In 1981, she fell in love and married Texas millionaire Donald Laisure. She soon divorced him when she found out she was wife number 35.
Six years later, she married the lawyer who represented her at her parole hearings, James Whitehouse. Susan died of brain cancer in 2009.
4. Charles Bronson
Born Michael Gordon Peterson, Charles Bronson is regarded as Britain’s most violent prisoner. He is considered so dangerous that he has been moved between prisons 150 times. In total, he has spent more than 40 years locked up, with 37 of them being in solitary confinement.
He married Fatema Saira Rehman in 2001. She first contacted him after seeing his picture in a newspaper. Their pen-pal friendship grew into love and within three months, after meeting only nine times, they were married in prison. Bronson briefly converted to Islam and changed his name (for the second time) to Charles Ali Ahmed. Though she spent her time campaigning for him to be released, they were divorced within four years.
3. Oscar Ray Bolin
Nicknamed ‘Bolin the Butcher’, Oscar Ray Bolin was jailed in connection with the rapes and murders of three women in 1986. Through a series of trials, convictions, appeals and retrials, he met Rosalie Martinez who was a public defender. She also happened to be married with four kids, but that didn’t stop them from falling in love.
Claiming to feel Bolin’s isolation and loneliness, she left her husband in 1996 and married Bolin in October, 1996. They meet every Saturday in the prison cafeteria, where they kiss and hold hands. She has shown up at every court appearance, making sure he is dressed in an Armani suit. She shows up in court professing her belief that Bolin is completely innocent of all the murders he is accused of.
2. Charles Manson
A charismatic and manipulative murderer, Charles Manson has a thing for adoring hordes. At some point, he was living with 19 women in an apartment in Berkley, California. Following years in and out of prison, Manson established himself as a guru and leader of the “Manson Family” in San Francisco, teaching a twisted mixture of Scientology and Christianity.
Manson was so canny that he directed six of his followers to carry out murders, making them “as gruesome as they can.” One of these sprees led to the murder of actress Sharon Tate and five others. Convicted of the murders in 1971, Manson has been behind bars since then. But it looks like his magnetism still works.
In 2014, a 27 year old woman, Afton Elaine “Star” Burton, who had spent the past 9 years trying to help exonerate him, obtained a marriage license to marry 80 year old Manson. Though the ceremony hasn’t occurred, the license authorizes a couple to marry.
1. Phillip Carl Jablonski
Phillip Carl Jablonski has been found guilty of many crimes with the last one being especially horrible. Like many lonely women, Carol Spadoni started writing to Jablonski in prison. He was serving 12 years for one murder. By 1982, they had met a few times and finally got married.
However, she had a change of heart before his release and expressed reservations about him not returning to live with her and her mother, Eva Peterson. Her reservations were not heeded and Jablonski was released.
While on parole, he killed a female community college student Fathyma Vann. The next day, he stabbed and shot Spadoni and her mother. Thankfully he is back behind bars serving a life sentence. Here’s hoping there aren’t anymore pen-pals waiting.