Groupies. Usually we associate them with rock stars and celebrities. There also exists a whole different cult network of groupies known as death groupies, death row groupies, and serial killer groupies. These are usually women and teenaged girls, although occasionally young men, who worship serial rapists and murderers. Women become sexually infatuated with criminals and young men often become intrigued by their prowess and courage in stalking and carrying out a murder. Neither these women or men are emotionally healthy. Some have a mental illness. Some may have a personality disorder and many have been neglected by family in their childhoods. Some groupies are sometimes isolated and lack friends and family.
Profile of a Death Groupie and Serial Killer Groupie
One disturbing theory that explains the phenomenon of a DG and an SKG, is that the groupie lives vicariously through the murderer. That is, the DG longs to commit an act of evil but lacks the wherewithal. Thus they “live” through the inmate. Some people become involved with criminals who have killed only once or twice. Others prefer serial killers due to the extreme notoriety. Many SKGs are educated and attractive. Some have money, and some are married. Quite a few are mothers, and it’s often the case that they work in some related field, such as psychology or law enforcement. In any event, serial killers prove to be magnets for some people, mostly females, and experts have offered a variety of reasons:
- Rescue fantasies: the SKG believes she has the ability to change someone as cruel as a serial killer.
- Need to nurture: women have said that they see the little boy in these killers and feel an overwhelming desire to nurture him.
- The perfect boyfriend: she knows where he is at all times, and while she can now claim that someone loves her, she does not have to endure the day-to-day issues of most relationships.
- Hybristophilia: some people are sexually excited by others who commit violence.
- Regaining the lost male: some who have been abused, neglected or without a father figure look to the killer to fill that need.
- Low self-esteem: some women believe they cannot find a man and since men in prison are desperately lonely, it’s an easy way to get involved
- Attention: when they get involved with a killer, people talk about them and often the media puts a spotlight on them.
- Beauty and the Beast syndrome: they like the idea of getting close to danger that will probably not hurt them.
In Women Who Love Men Who Kill, Sheila Isenberg quotes psychiatrist Park Dietz on prison groupies: “I would be amazed if they weren’t among the neediest and most dependent of woman. As in the transference cure in psychoanalysis, the women are sucking up a part of the men’s ego and that gives them the illusion of being in control.” Add the fantasy that they are truly loved or are being truly loving, and this connection can become an addictive drive. A large percentage of DG, DRG, and SKG, were raised as Catholics and were severely affected by church teachings, including sexism, subjugation of women, and repressions of sexuality. Their fathers were often missing, withdrawn, or abusive, and the mothers might have been demanding.
The “queen” of SKG is Sondra London, who says she fairly represents serial killers in the media and has had numerous correspondents among men on death row. London’ s career with serial killers apparently began inadvertently when she dated Gerard Schaefer, a man later convicted of two 1970s murders. He was suspected in 34 cases and he confessed to having killed between 80 and 110 over eight years. London helped him get a collection of fiction published that detailed his crimes. He was her first lover, and while she was initially appalled that she dated a serial killer, that did not stop her from contacting him in prison and becoming an advocate until he was killed. She got involved with Keith Jesperson, the Happy Face Killer, posting his ideas on the internet, which angered him. But her real “catch” was the Gainesville Ripper, Danny Rolling. He used his opportunity to speak during his trial to sing to her in court. She looked thrilled. It’s clear that London overlooks his brutality, and she helps Rolling indulge himself by getting him to describe them for publication. She doesn’t see how this collaboration was likely a narcissistic way for him to wallow in the killings.
Sondra appeared on the now defunct Geraldo Rivera show and vehemently defended Rolling, as well as their relationship. At the time she insisted Rolling hadn’t yet been proven guilty and must be innocent until proven. “I’m appalled at the suffering of the victim and families. I want to point out that the problem starts years before in the offender’s history that there is a tragedy that began and the child is now the adult offender and it continues to play out…” True that. She admitted, “I’ve been a victim of violent crime myself and obviously it has a terrible impact for a victim to be hurt…Danny and other violent offenders also have a tragedy within their own lives.” While her reasoning is sound, she cannot explain why Rolling’s background and subsequent crimes provide a legitimate reason to become involved with Rolling. Later she insists “he’s not a Satanist he’s a Christian.” The audience laughed at her absurd statement.
Love and the Night Stalker
A great many women wanted Richard Ramirez’s attention after he was arrested and convicted as “The Night Stalker” and he was happy to give it. Lines formed to get into prison to visit him. While some claimed to believe him innocent, others just thought he was cute or sexy. Those who sensed his danger admitted this aroused them. One admirer was Doreen Lioy, 41. She saw Ramirez’s picture and stated she fell madly in love with him. She wrote 75 letters to him before she met him. The meeting only deepened their connection, although Ramirez often disappointed her by allowing the visits of other enamored women. Doreen sat through every day of his trial, jealously watching the other women who showed up. She thought she was the only one who loved him but she wasn’t alone in that sentiment. Cindy Haden, a member of the jury appeared to fall in love with him. Her father had an “excessively bad temper” and as a woman who had been unhappy in her marriage. On Valentine’s Day, she sent Ramirez a cupcake with a message, “I love you,” on it. Ramirez she would not convict him. He now had a shot at getting a hung jury, so he made sure to look at her a lot. Not only was he convicted but he was also given the death penalty. Haden made a gesture to Ramirez that she was truly remorseful. He invited her to come meet him and she had him meet her parents. Despite Haden’s devoted efforts, Doreen won out. She stayed steady while other women came and went, and on October 3, 1996, Doreen became Mrs. Richard Ramirez. She accepted that she would be a virgin for life, and never a mother.
Profile of a Death Row Groupie
This is not the same as a DG. DR groupies write to and become infatuated with criminals on death row, awaiting execution. To people who support the death penalty, an anti-death row person who begins a pen pal relationship with a DR inmate is a scum pal. Mail maggots are people who correspond with death row inmates, typically women. Many women begin relationships with death row inmates. Such women devote themselves entirely to the man and make significant sacrifices, such as sitting for hours every week to await the brief face-to-face visit in prison. They may give up jobs or families to be near their true love, and they will most certainly be spending money on him, perhaps all they have. When the men are merely using them, they fail to recognize it. Groupies are infatuated with death row men because of the allure that they have killed and that they are now condemned. For example, Scott Peterson, the San Diego man convicted of murdering his pregnant wife Lacey, has a huge following and apparently gets thousands of naked pictures sent to him. In a twisted way the male who is the most strong and dominant, the most violent, appears to be the most male.
It isn’t difficult to find such men, either. Websites such as Writeaprisoner.com to Romantic Jailbabes.com, exist to assist women and men in accessing inmates. “Anti-death-penalty sites” vie with Match.com, as places for women to meet men. Writeaprisoner even offers advice as to why the general public should write to inmates and it offers a convincing argument:
- Without such contact with society outside the prison walls, rehabilitation would be adversely affected, prison morale weakened, perhaps inviting riots and other forms of internal disorder.
- It may provide an incentive to lower recidivism.
- Returning prisoners who were employed after release relied largely on personal connections—family, friends, former employers—to find their jobs
- Spiritual satisfaction is guaranteed for the writer.
I found a site posted by a young man who is serving 60 years for break and enter into a personal residence, (how this is possible i don’t know since I was under the impression that inmates were denied access to the internet – anyway). Even he stated that it is possible to write to SKs but do so at your own risk since this could be dangerous. I should imagine he means dangerous as in this blog: falling for and being manipulated by an SK. Mind you, an SK is never getting out of prison so I doubt writing to one could be physically dangerous….but then again, one never knows.
The prisoner doesn`t have to be attractive. Henry Lee Lucas, a one-eyed serial killer who confessed to more than 300 murders, recanted, and confessed again, has had his share of female admirers. Despite his apparent sexual relationship with Ottis Toole, he’s nevertheless compelling to some women as a potential mate. One woman even came up with a plot to free him by posing as his supposedly murdered former girlfriend. Overweight, narcissistic and whiney, John Wayne Gacy, killer of 33 young men during homosexual encounters, married in prison. A case in point is the book written by Jason Moss about his own intense fascination with serial killers. While in interviews he downplays it all, as if it were just a project, one can see a high degree of excitement in his planning and in his writing. Moss corresponded with many other notorious serial killers including Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez, Henry Lee Lucas, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Among many publications, Moss gave an interview to Salon.com . In it we learn that Moss’s mother showed him a book about a serial killer who made a belt out of nipples. These relationships must have taken their toll, however: in 2006, Moss committed suicide in his home by shotgun.
Redstall is unlike other DG in a number of ways: she is gorgeous, educated and was once a British weather girl on television. She and Wayne Adam Ford began a relationship although she insisted Ì`m not like those lunatics who want to seek out serial killers.“ Redstall, an actress who’s landed bit parts in several films, befriended Ford while on a tour of the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. She went there to see him, and persuaded a guard to take her to his cell. She visited Ford regularly, spending as much as three hours at a time. Featured in the LA Times on August 1, Redstall told reporters that she and Ford liked to sing country songs together, and his singing gave her “gooseflesh.” Several sources reported that she’d long been interested in serial killers. She says that he is full of remorse, and anyway, “We all have evil in us.” She thought it was “hysterical” that this offender with a breast fetish was involved with a model for breast enhancement.Many people believe that Redstall, 34, is in this relationship strictly for publicity, because her career as an actress never really got off the ground. In light of the media sensation she became, I tend to disagree.
For the majority of death groupie women, moral activism is the primary driver, at least initially. Several were heavily involved in anti-death penalty campaigns before they met their significant others. Some were moved by Christian conviction to contact – and save these doomed souls, only to discover that they ultimately were the ones who needed saving. Two middle-aged Christian sisters from Australia left stable marriages to marry released violent offenders with whom they had romanced in prison. One was bludgeoned to death with a hammer and the other one narrowly escaped death after her new hubby tried to cut off her ear and pull out her teeth with pliers.
Samantha Spiegel’s a promising, San Francisco-based fashion student. So why has she “dated” a series of notorious criminals? At only 19, Spiegel has already been “engaged” to John Mark Carr, the creep who tried to take credit for the JonBenet Ramsay killing. (To add to the creepiness, she met him when he taught at her elementary school.) Of course, women who are attracted to killers is not a new phenomenon. Spiegel’s psychiatrist explains her patient’s motives that “vulnerable women like Samantha often fall for more aggressive men who they think can protect them. Killer groupies often have violent inclinations themselves but they don`t act on them because it`s not accepted by society. The men represent a part of the woman that they can`t talk about…They`ve all had violent upbringings, and they`ve all been abused.
In Spiegel’s case, you also get a window into the psyche of women like Myra Hindley, who fall under the sway of pedophiles and end up helping them. She talks about helping Carr plan a cult called “The Immaculates,” made up of the 4-to-6-year-old girls he liked. Ì sized up girls on the street….I would look at their feet, their face, their hair, their size. He`s not a fan of black girls, so when I saw one, I`d thiknk, `She`s just not gonna work.`When I look back at all that it scares me so much. He was grooming me to be a pedophile. Spiegel is deeply disturbed and putting herself in dangerous situations. She considered herself to be “in a relationship” with Klaas’ killer, in some ways the most disquieting element comes in one of the piece’s three online comments. Writes someone identifying herself as “Virginia Spiegel,” As anyone who knows Samantha is aware, she suffers with bi-polar disorder and has struggled with it for many years. She stopped taking her medication several weeks ago. I hope her friends will encourage her to take her meds and get real psychological help.
Some serial killers sell their art and some are the subject of art; a handful of artists market or display their depictions of the likes of “superstar” killers such as Ramirez, Bundy, and Dahmer. Among the most notorious are:
Nicolas “Nico” Claux, a self-proclaimed necrophile, who once was convicted of murder. He set up a web site to display his portraits, and he believes that serial killers reflect society’s rampant consumerism and need to make them into celebrities.
Joe Coleman, who creates “outsider art,” which attracts buyers like Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCapprio. Coleman has collected medical oddities and torture devices, and has devoted himself to rendering the visages of the outcasts of life, including serial killers.
It`s easy to become part of the SKG culture without ever contacting an SK: many people bid on and purchase items in online auctions. eBay once allowed plenty of trade in serial killer odds and ends. Murderauction.com is a place where fans can list and buy serial killer items including photographs, letters, comic books, and other items. Serial Killers Inc sells many such items. The Internet Movie Database lists 852 movies and television series associated in some way with serial killers.