In a world obsessed with the internet, it's become increasingly easier for everyday citizens to contact prisoners. Using websites like Meet-an-inmate, WriteAPrisoner, PrisonInmates, InmateConnections, ConvictMailbag, and InmatePassions, just about anyone can start a penpal relationship with someone who's currently serving time in jail. While it may seem bizarre to want to start dating a murderer, there are a number of people completely in love with the idea.
These people are often referred to as 'hybristophiles,' or in other terms, they suffer from 'Bonnie & Clyde Syndrome.' Hybristophilia is a fetish where someone becomes sexually attracted to a person who has cheated, lied, or committed a crime such as robbery, murder, and even r*pe. And this isn't a new phenomenon either. Ted Bundy attracted a courtroom filled with women throughout his trial despite the fact that he was being accused of killing, dismembering, and r*ping over 30 women. Other people, however, aren't in it to satisfy a fetish — they date notorious criminals for the money and fame that come with it.
Earlier this year, Lynn Hartman became engaged to Steven Avery, whom you'll remember from the Netflix series Making A Murderer. For Avery, it was love at first sight, but for Hartman, it was a paycheck. According to sources close to Avery, he broke off the engagement after he suspected that she was using him to promote herself through paid television appearances.
Despite what you might think, many women start legitimate romantic relationships with men who are in prison. In this list, you'll find 15 different reasons why women have confessed to dating men behind bars.
15 Gold Digger
Charles Manson is one of the most notorious criminals in the history of the United States. Though he didn't kill anyone himself, Manson was responsible for creating a cult of worshipers that did his dirty work for him — including murdering whoever Manson wanted.
Though he's been rotting away in a cell for decades now, Manson has attracted a number of fangirls. One of these women is 27-year-old Afton Elaine Burton, who calls herself a star. The two lovers were set to be married despite their 50-year age difference. Unfortunately for Manson, he got wind of Burton's master plan: she wanted to put Manson's corpse in a glass case and make it a tourist attraction to make herself rich.
Manson told those close to him that he thought the idea was ridiculous because he thought that he was immortal and that he would never die. Since hearing of the plan, Manson has called off the wedding. Some people feel that Manson was exploiting Burton and her friends to get money and gifts sent to him and that he had no intention of marrying her in the first place.
14 She's As Sick As Her Imprisoned Boyfriend
Joanne Rutledge is a textbook case of someone suffering from Bonnie & Clyde Syndrome. She started exchanging letters and phone calls with Ian Huntley, a man who was convicted of killing two 10-year-old girls. Huntley was sentenced to life in prison for the murders and never admitted why he made the choice to kill the girls from the school that he worked at. Rutledge, who photoshopped herself into a photograph of Ted Bundy, carries a bag full of letters from Huntley. She says that the letters make her feel flattered because he's always telling her that she looks good in the photographs that she sends him.
Rutledge says that she was drawn to Huntley because of all the women that sent him letters, he claims to have responded only to her. How romantic! Joanne wanted to send her prison lover a card with a Manchester United logo on the front, in reference to the last clothes his victims were wearing before he killed them.
Besides having a woman fall in love with him, Huntley has been having a miserable time in prison. After his fellow inmates discovered what he had done, he had his throat slashed, which he survived. Following that event, Huntley suffered severe burns after someone poured boiling water on him. He's tried to commit suicide several times.
13 She Wasn't Ready For A 'Real' Relationship
As a teenager, Melody Wilson was in an on again/off again relationship with a man named "Justin." Because her family was so close with Justin's family, Melody felt that she and Justin would one day settle their differences and get married. Justin was expelled from high school and turned to a life of crime, getting arrested for possession of marijuana and, eventually, burglaries. One day, Justin was arrested for being an accomplice to a double murder. He claims that his friend snapped and killed two of his drug dealers and forced Justin to help him bury the bodies at gunpoint.
While awaiting trial, Justin wrote letters to Melody, and they caught up. They hadn't been talking for years, and their rekindled friendship gave Melody the strength she needed to improve her life. She had faced a number of rough breakups in college, and her family was struggling with issues of their own. Justin helped Melody fix her relationships with her family members.
According to Melody, their unconventional relationship gave her confidence and stability at a time when she had none. At the time, she wasn't ready for a real relationship and cherished the closeness that she had with Justin. Their relationship ended nearly a year from when it started after Melody realized that Justin could never truly give her what she wanted in life. He hadn't graduated high school and planned to work a dead-end job for the rest of his life.
12 She Was Inspired By A Documentary
Danielle Laski, 47, is one of thousands of women in the United States to engage in a relationship with a man than that she had never met. The Australian born woman became infatuated with Timothy Wright Jr after they began talking online. Timothy is currently serving 63 years in prison for the murder of 19-year-old Justin Baumgartner in 2008. He has no chance of parole but maintains the fact that he was framed. Danielle Laski believes her husband and, since meeting him, has vouched to fight for his freedom.
After seeing a documentary about how lonely American convicts are, Laski took it upon herself to reach out to a number of prisoners online. After months of contact with Timothy Wright Jr, the two fell in love. Laski eventually made the 16,000 km journey from Melbourne, Australia, to visit her soon-to-be husband at the Buckingham Correctional Center in Virginia. According to Laski, she knew more about Wright Jr after 4 letters than if she had spent six weeks dating someone in person. Despite everyone assuming that she is, Laski told reporters that she wasn't crazy — just in love. When asked why Laski didn't date someone not locked up, she said, "You can deal with some stinkers outside of prison."
11 She Became Infatuated After Seeing His Photo
Charles Bronson is considered to be the most dangerous man in the United Kingdom. Bronson has been moved to different prisons over 150 times because of his violent tendencies with other inmates. In 27 years in jail, Bronson had spent an estimated 22 years in solitary confinement. The man has become internationally famous because of how violent he is, but some women find such wild men attractive.
Fatima Saira Rehman was 31 years old when she began dating 48-years-old Charles Bronson. According to Rehman, she became infatuated after she saw his photo for the very first time. After a very brief dating period, the two lovebirds got hitched in 2001. Bronson told reporters that Rehman had changed him more in their short time together than any prison sentence ever would. Their love caused quite a stir, as Rehman was fired from her job as a counselor for victims of domestic violence and nearly moved because of the abuse from her neighbors.
Rehman was forced into an abusive marriage when she was 18, and this is why many psychologists believe she married Bronson. He doesn't seem that bad to her because she lives a background of "normalized violence." Bronson was considered so violent that the couple wasn't even allowed to touch each other — they could only talk to each other through a glass plate. Four years after their marriage began, the couple divorced.
10 She Has Body-Image Issues
Social anthropologist Alex Cavendish has been studying relationships between convicts and people outside of prison for decades. According to Cavendish, these relationships are based on dependency and control. "Dependence works both ways," said Cavendish, "financial for many prisoners, particularly those who don't have family ties, as well as emotional."
In Cavendish's experience, a number of women who fall for prisoners are often lonely and have body-image concerns. When examining the photos sent to prisoners, Cavendish further observed that many of these women were overweight. Convicts are chosen by these women as lovers because, more likely than not, the prisoner isn't going to be judgmental and will be more appreciative of the gifts that the women send him. Some convicts feign appreciation and have a number of pen pals to get a bunch of free stuff. According to Cavendish, straight prisoners have been known to find "sugar daddies" to fund their tobacco habits.
9 His Letters Made Her Feel Wanted
Georgina Rigby was 28 years old when she was contacted by an inmate who grew up in the same area as her. She was working in the field of drug misuse, and when she was first contacted by the inmate, their relationship was completely platonic. She told a reporter that the letters she sent to this particular inmate allowed her to be her "best self" without having him see the physical and personal flaws that she had. Her prisoner pen pal made her feel wanted and cherished the communication that he had with her.
As her relationship with the convict progressed in time, the letters started becoming more sexual. According to Rigby, "I could tell that having a sympathetic woman to write to made him feel good and no doubt gave him some fantasy material. As for me, I guess I felt wanted and liked." Clinical Psychologist Dr. Stuart Fischoff implied that these types of prison relationships thrived because each person liked the idea of the other person more than they would've actually liked that person if they had met him or her in the real world.
8 She Thinks Inmates Deserve a Caring Friend
These days, there's a website for just about everything. WriteAPrisoner is a website that allows individuals to connect with inmates in America and write to them like a pen pal. Users can post what they're looking for in a pen pal and what type of people they don't want to connect with. It's like Tinder but for pen pals.
One of the users on the website, Vynte, wrote that she was looking for a chatty prisoner over the age of 40. In her own words: "I want to write to someone who can maintain their [sic] end of a conversation. I avoid profiles in which the inmate goes into a spiel about them being wrongfully convicted." Furthermore, Vynte revealed that she doesn't write to people seeking donations or to convicted sex offenders but will gladly write to a robber or murderer. The user also stated that she thinks all inmates deserve to have a caring friend.
7 She Loves The Attention
A user on WriteAPrisoner with the username "Pihllee" admitted to reporters that she had been writing to the same pen pal for more than three years. In the brief interview, Pihllee said that, at first, she was curious but then became drawn to all the attention that her pen pal was giving her. Not only does he write lengthy letters, but he apparently also adores her and tells this to her fairly regularly.
In her own words, Pihllee said, "I am so attracted to him, and I love the attention he is giving me. I get mails every day, with the sweetest words. Don't get me wrong; he is not sleazy; he is just very honest and telling me how much I mean to him." It would be terrible if the person that Pihllee was talking with for the past three years was just trying to use her for money or other goods that she could send him. Though that's probably not the case, you never know.
6 She Married A Murderer Because She Loved Him
Amy Friedman had a blossoming career as a writer when she fell in love with a convicted murderer in 1992. Friedman met the prisoner, Will, while working as a newspaper columnist who wrote about one of Canada's most notorious prisons. At first, Will tried to intimidate Friedman and told her that he wasn't going to talk to her. Slowly but surely, though, Will continued to reach out to Friedman, and the two eventually started seeing each other more often than prison officials liked.
The prison eventually stopped giving Friedman access to Will, so she tried to sign on as his personal visitor. Even with the presence of Will's family, Friedman was still denied access to him. Will later told her that the only way she could see him again was if they got married, and she agreed. They were married for 7 years before breaking up 18 months after Will had gotten out of prison on parole. According to Friedman, he fell into a depression, and she eventually asked him to leave.
Friedman claims that she learned to love Will during their first few encounters, but you have to question how deep her love was if they broke up so soon after he was given freedom.
5 She Was Trying To Stay True To Her Vows
Ann Edenfield was working as a flight attendant while she was married to her husband, a captain. Together, the happy couple had four young boys. In 1986, Ann's husband was arrested for a conspiracy to import drugs. The following year, he was in prison four and a half hours away from Ann and her children. Every six weeks, Ann would take her sons to see their father in prison to try and have as normal of a family life as possible.
In her community, Ann and her sons were pretty much exiled. After her assets were frozen in relation to her husband's arrest, her children were the kids that nobody was allowed to hang out with. Her life was filled with uncertainty for the first time, but she stayed with her husband for one reason: she vowed to stay with him for "better or worse."
Six years of prison later, Ann's husband was released. At the time, she was working as a youth director at her church and had to play the role of both parents for her sons. For years after his release, after nearly 28 years of marriage, Ann and her husband filed for divorce. They just couldn't make it work.
4 She Was His High School Sweetheart
Prison Wives was a reality program that focused on women who had romantic relationships with prisoners. The program was poorly received, as it didn't paint the women in the most favorable light. There was no sequel or follow-up to the program, but many other shows of a similar nature spawned soon after it aired.
During the program, one of the women explained that she was contacted by her high school sweetheart on social media. She hadn't heard from him in years and was surprised to hear that he was contacting her from inside the walls of prison. Their love was rekindled, and she married him the very first time that she went to visit him. Her ex-husband was unhappy with her new marriage because he was concerned that she was taking their daughter to visit her new stepfather inside of a prison.
3 She Didn't Want To Miss Out On Love Over The Circumstances
I'm a believer that there are a number of criminals who are good people but ended up making a mistake, though they might be rare. Even rarer is when a violent criminal becomes rehabilitated while serving his prison sentence. Jose Perez, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison at the age of 16, is one of those rare cases.
Now 28 years old, Perez has completed a college prison program and married 23-year-old Brie Morris. The newly married couple met on PrisonTalk.com and were writing each other 20 to 25-page letters during the early parts of their relationship. Morris said that it was hard at first, but she continued to love Perez because she didn't want to miss out on something because of the circumstances. Prison officials have noted that Perez has transformed as a person and that his future is looking bright. Experts say that inmates who are married when released have a 12% less chance of committing another crime.
2 Remember Ian Watkins?
The Lostprophets were a very successful alternative/rock band that became the center of a massive controversy. In 2012, the lead singer of Lostprophets, Ian Watkins, admitted to committing illegal acts on minors.
Watkins is currently serving 35 years in prison in a maximum-security prison. Even though he plead guilty, his deluded fans believe that he's too nice to do the things that he admitted to doing.
1 She Was A Former Prison Guard
Through something that resembles a plot of Orange is the New Black, former prison guard Jenee fell for one of the inmates where she worked. The man, Robert, was in prison on second-degree manslaughter charges, but that didn't stop Jenee from falling for him. Jenee used the national database to look at Robert's record and read everything that she could about him in order to understand him better.
According to both Jenee and Robert, they fell for each other the second that they saw each other. Jenee said that she thought Robert was 'hot' but quickly pushed her fantasies of him out of her mind because prison guards couldn't have those types of relationships with prisoners. But when Jenee was fired for an unrelated incident, she wrote Robert a letter saying that she wished him the best. She says that she gained a lot of wisdom from Robert, and she included her phone number for him to call her. Robert is now out of prison, and the couple has been married for the last 9 years! Somehow, Jenee has managed to hide the fact that Robert is a former convict from her family. She told her father that Robert worked for a company that was contracted to work at the prison.
Sources: news.com.au, theguardian.com, independent.co.uk