Serial killer groupies? Just about every serial killer has them. The groupies write to these confirmed killers in prison and stand in line and wait for hours to visit them for a brief few minutes. A few give up their lives and move homes to be near the killer’s prison. Some even marry them, or try to, and have their baby.
Serial killer groupies are not a new phenomena. William Henry Theodore Durrant was one of America’s first serial killers. He was a young and handsome San Francisco medical student, who in 1895 brutally sexually attacked and murdered two women. His three week trial was an international sensation. Reporters noted with some disgust the hoards of young females who flocked to the courtroom. One in particular stood out. She was Rosalind Bowers. Each day, she came to the trial carrying a bouquet of Sweet Peas that she unfailingly gave to Durrant. She unsuccessfully tried to visit him in prison. In the end, Durrant was convicted and hanged and the married Rosalind went back to her world – and her husband.
Flash forward to the 1990s. In the bizarre world of serial killer groupies, Sondra London became a stand out. She is a serial groupie of serial killers. A true crime author, she wrote to serial murderer G.J. Schaefer, claiming she was a former girlfriend. She began a strange “collaboration” with him, writing stories many said were based on his crimes. When Schaefer, who bragged he had killed 30 women, began writing threatening letters to London, she moved on. She became involved with Keith Jesperson, the so called Happy Face Killer. She then became obsessed with serial murderer Danny Rolling, dubbed the Gainesville Ripper. He serenaded her at his trial. In 1993, she claimed in a TV interview with Geraldo Rivera that she was engaged to Rolling. Rolling died by lethal injection in 2006.
Why do some women become enthralled with brutal serial killers? There is a long, rather boring technical term (hybristophilia) that describes why people (typically women) become obsessed with serial killers. There is an equally long and boring explanation for why. What it seems to come down to, though, is excitement, danger and a daring sexual thrill. Some women think they can tame the “bad boy”, while others secretly admire the alpha male the killer represents. Others appear to be in it for their 15 of fame.
These ten killers became famous because of their despicable acts. They became celebrities who attracted groupies because of our society’s undeniably morbid fascination with crime – and murder in particular.
Some graphic descriptions of disturbing crimes follow.
10. Wade Adam Ford
In the bizarre world of serial killer groupies, Ford and his groupie get a “B++”, for very, very bizarre. Ford was a serial killer who picked up prostitutes, then killed and dismembered them. He sent severed female breasts to police trying to catch him. Victoria Redstall was a busty British actress and a spokesperson for a bust enhancement supplement. Seems a perfect match. During his trial, she managed to get introduced to Ford in prison. She visited him often. They sang together and talked about their childhoods. At his trial, she took pictures of him, installing one as a screensaver on her cell phone. She said she would trust him with her life. Another piece of irony can be added to the mix: In 2011, 5 years after her meetings with Ford, she was in a movie called How to Pick up Girls.
9. Charles Manson
Sharon Tate was young and beautiful and married to director Roman Polanski. The August 1969 grisly house invasion murders of this pregnant starlet and her rich and famous friends at a secluded Beverly Hills house, as well as the gruesome torture/murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca a day later, were beyond sensational. A collective chill ran through the whole nation. The mastermind behind the spree was Charles Manson. He was the head of “The Manson Family” a group of 60s hippie dropouts in California. When Manson and his followers were arrested, the wild-eyed Charlie became an anti-hero and a celebrity. Women flocked to his murder trial, sent him fan letters and have continued to visit him in prison. In 2013, Star, a 20-something devoted groupie and regular visitor, announced she would marry the 79 year old. Charlie was less enthusiastic.
8. Richard Ramirez
In 1984 and 1985, Richard Ramirez committed 13 murders and 11 sexual assaults. Dubbed the Night Stalker, he broke into houses to attack, murder and rob. The handsome murderer and Satan worshipper had a groupie following that was almost beyond belief. Cindy Haden – who was, in fact, one of the jurors at his trial – fell for him. She bought him clothes and sent him a Valentine’s present. And she expressed remorse when he was convicted and sentenced to death. Once in prison, women lined up to visit him. He played them off against each other, exciting jealousy. In 1996, a long time fan and visitor named Doreen married Ramirez in prison. He died of natural causes in 2013.
7. Ted Bundy
Bundy was a handsome, charming man who between 1974 and 1978 brutally killed some 30 women. A necrophile and a sexual attacker, he is considered the most notorious serial killer ever. He also probably holds the record for groupies. Female groupies overran his trial. One of them, Carol Anne Boone, married him during the trial and later gave birth to his child. In prison, Bundy received up to 200 letters a day from women obsessed with him. Many thought him innocent. Even now, years after his execution, he has a new generation of followers besotted with the sordid Bundy legend.
6. Jeffrey Dahmer
When Jeffrey Dahmer, known as The Milwaukee Cannibal, went to prison for the sexual assault, murder and dismemberment of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991, dedicated female fans wrote to him. Not only did they write; they sent him money. In total, fans paid out some $12,000 to this murderer. Disgusted prison officials called the women sick. Dahmer was murdered by another inmate in 1994.
5. Henry Lee Lucas
Henry Lee took up painting to pass the time in jail. He was the less than handsome, one-eyed killer of 300. But he still had his fair share of female groupies. And this in spite of his “relationship” with an unsavory guy named Ottis Toole. One of Henry Lee’s lady followers concocted a plot to free Lucas by posing as one of his victims. It didn’t work, of course, and Henry Lee died in prison of natural causes in 2001.
4. John Wayne Gacy
Overweight, narcissistic and whiney, John Wayne Gacy had an unusual groupie experience with a male ‘fan’. Jason Moss, a college student pretending to work on an assignment, wrote to Gacy. He claimed to be homosexual in order to attract the attention of the serial killer of some 33 men. A visit turned nasty when the convict Gacy got violent and threatened to sexually assault Moss. He survived, though, later producing a book about serial killers, and then there was a movie.
3. Charles Schmid
Schmid was so short that he’d stuff things into his shoes in a effort to make himself taller. He wore make up. And in Tucson in the 1960’s, he killed young girls. But the Pied Piper of Tucson’s trial for the 1960’s murders attracted huge numbers of women. Women had always been attracted to Schmid. And nothing changed simply because he was a serial killer. Modern literary legend Joyce Carol Oates even wrote a short story about him.
2. Ken Bianchi
One of two California cousins who killed a dozen women and were dubbed The Hillside Stranglers, Bianchi scored a first in the annals of serial killer groupies: From prison, he got one of his groupies, Veronica Compton, to kill for him. Or rather, she tried to kill someone, using the MO of the Hillside Strangler. The victim was too strong and overpowered the hapless Compton. The bungled attempt at a copycat murder that would take the heat off Bianchi landed Compton in prison. Later, she became involved with another serial killer, Douglas Clark.
1. Joran van der Sloot
The headlines screamed it out: Convicted murderer van der Sloot was to marry his pregnant girlfriend. The number one suspect in the presumed murder of Natalee Holloway (an Alabama girl who disappeared while on vacation in Aruba in 2005), Dutch citizen van der Sloot is serving a 28 year sentence for murdering Stephany Ramirez in Peru, five years to the day after Natalee disappeared. Van der Sloot has had his share of groupies, and this is the second time it has been announced he would marry. The current intended is a 20-something Peruvian girl who claims she is pregnant with his child. Well, conjugal visits are allowed in Peru…