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Thriller Thursday: Serial Killer Groupies

Serial September is coming to an end, and I’ve saved the creepiest post for last: serial killer groupies. Yes, they exist, and I bet there are a lot more of them than you imagined.

Ted Bundy and Carol Anne Boone

Ted Bundy’s name is enough to make most of us quiver. I remember his execution in 1989, and his was one of the first serial killer stories I ever read. The scariest thing about Bundy was his charm and good looks–he truly was the last guy you’d expect to be a coldblooded butcher.

Ted Bundy was incarcerated for good in February 1978 in Florida after killing two girls in their sorority house at Florida State University and later 12-year-old Kimberly Leach. He’d already escaped once, so the Florida prison made sure to keep a close watch on him.

Bundy’s charm and looks made him a media darling, and the fan mail from women poured in. Ann Rule, author of The Stranger Beside Me, said some of the women were frightened of Bundy but still viewed him as a romantic interest. Even worse, some of these women couldn’t get passed his charm and believed he was innocent. They supported him in person during his trial, and in the creepiest of twists, several of the women looked like his victim type of choice: long brown hair parted in the middle!

Carol Anne Boone began a relationship with Bundy and moved from Washington to Florida to be close to him. She believed in his innocence and testified on his behalf during the penalty phase of his trial.

Here’s where Bundy’s intelligence and ability to manipulate really kicked in. During his penalty phase, Bundy stood up and proposed to Carol Anne. He’d found a loophole in an old state law that allowed a declaration in court to constitute legal marriage. Carol Anne accepted.

Don’t worry. It gets creepier. She got pregnant and bore Bundy’s child. There is disagreement among experts as to whether she had conjugal relations or managed to smuggle his semen out of prison, but Carol Anne stood by Bundy for years, ignoring the teeth marks he’d left on a victim and his confession of killing more than 30 women.

It took her eight years to admit she’d been wrong.

Samantha Spiegal

In 2010, San Francisco Weekly ran an article about 19-year-old Samanth Spiegal. At the time, she was a fashion student in San Francisco with a dark resume of communication with several heinous killers. Spiegal had sent letters to Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker) and Richard Allen Davis, the man who murdered Polly Klass. All three men are on death row.

Prior to her contact with the death row trio, Spiegal was engaged to John Mark Karr, the man who falsely confessed to killing John Benet Ramsey.

Spiegal told San Francisco Weekly she had a two-year relationship with Karr, but that it ended after persuaded her to recruit children for a sex cult. She ended up in rehab and eventually sought a restraining order against Karr. Instead of learning her lesson, Spiegal sought out death row inmates.

For more on Samantha Spiegal’s extensive story, visit the original article.

Spiegal’s psychiatrist SF Weekly that “vulnerable women like Samantha often fall for more aggressive men who they think can protect them. Killer groupies often have violent inclinations themselves, she says, but they don’t act on them because it’s not accepted by society. “The men represent a part of the women that they can’t talk about…They’ve all had violent upbringings, and they’ve all been abused.” SOURCE

Sondra London

London has a storied career as a serial killer groupie. She dated (supposedly without knowing of his crimes) Gerard Shaefer, before he was convicted of two murders in the 1970s. He eventually confessed to killing between 80 and 110 women in an eight year span. Instead of abandoning Shaefer, London helped him publish supposed fiction that described crimes authorities suspected he’d actually committed.

She later got involved with Keith Jesperson, the Happy Face Killer, and then, Danny Rollings, better known as the Gainesville Ripper.

In 1990, Rollings stabbed two coeds in Gainesville Florida and then posed them for effect. He also killed an 18-year-old woman and left her decapitated body in her apartment with her head propped on a bookshelf. Two days later, he stabbed a male and female.

Despite the ironclad case against Rollings, London stood by him. In a book they cowrote, The Making of A Serial Killer, she supports his theory of being possessed by an evil entity. Rolling described his crimes in the book and experts have noted that London was either clueless or didn’t care about his obvious attempt at reliving his killings.

But London also profited from the killings. She persuaded him to write the book, and he turned all the rights over to her. They are no longer engaged.

So what’s the draw?

Sheila Isenberg has interviewed dozens of women who were serial killer groupies. Her book, Women Who Love Men Who Kill, profiles nurses, teachers, journalists, laborers, and housewives from a variety of backgrounds. Isenberg found only two common denominators: Catholicism and abusive childhoods.

The Catholicism is something that’s interesting to me, but I’m not an expert in religion, so I’m leaving that one alone. But the abusive childhoods come as no surprise. Obviously something has happened to these women to make them insecure and an offset of “normal” society.

Isenberg believes dating a man behind bars–one with zero chance of ever getting out–puts these women in a position of power, something they’ve never experienced before.

Forensic psychologist and author Katherine Ramsland states there are a number of theories as to why certain women are draw to these killers. Among them are:

  • Rescue fantasies – she wants to believe she can change him.
  • Need to nurture
  • Need for drama
  • Vicarious fantasies and the need to live out their own images of violence
  • Low self esteem
  • Attention and Eminence (evolving from nobodies into somebodies).

There are many more serial killers who had groupies, including John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker), and the Hillside Stranglers. There are websites devoted to serial killer merchandise and some murders even sell their own art to their “fans.”

What do you think? Could you have contact with a serial killer? Would you feel safer with him behind bars? Do you think these women attention seekers or in need of something more substantial?


39 comments on… “Thriller Thursday: Serial Killer Groupies”

  1. Stacy, this is such a good post. wow. disgusting and horrible but great information. and I’m reading this at 6:30 before breakfast. LOL

    I’d love to talk to some of these women…Imagine having such lousy self esteem that you’d believe they cared about you…little old you…after killing all those others. poor things. there’s another, nastier part of me that would like to slap them…did I say that out loud? must have coffee. LOL

    • Thank you. It’s one of the more interesting parts of serial killer lore in my opinion. I can’t understand the mindset of them, and I know they’ve all got serious issues, but still. It’s frightening, and I totally understand the need to slap them, lol.

  2. Shannon Esposito

    So Ted Bundy has a child out there??? Whoa! I must go look this up! Great post, creepy women. I need a shower just reading about serial killers, though I am fascinated by the whole psychology of what goes so wrong in the human brain.

    • Yes. Thanks for looking that up. I was rushed with this post and didn’t get the chance to go any farther. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Poor child. I truly hope no one knows who her father’s real identity is. Thanks for stopping by:)

  3. I am pretty sure that the serial killer my mom met was Ted Bundy. At the time she didn’t know anything about him of course. She and a friend went to a garage sale at his house and he really creeped them out!

    • That is wild. When was this? I assume before his first capture? So damned scary. The scariest thing about The Stranger Beside me is that Anne Rule worked with him off and on and had no clue. I just can’t imagine. Thanks for sharing.

  4. jerridrennen

    This is just too creepy. Who would want to have a child with a serial killer?

  5. It’s so hard to wrap my mind around the idea of a woman falling in love with a known serial killer. Some of the proposed reasons make sense, especially that the killers might represent the repressed violent tendencies of these women and that being involved with someone who can never get out of prison puts the women in a position of power but it’s still too horrible to think about. Your articles are always so fascinating and thought provoking, Stacy.

    The religion link is interesting. Going to have to check out the book and get a better understanding.

    • Me, too. I understand the fascination with them to an extent. I’m the same in terms of getting inside their heads and trying to understand what makes them tick. But to be so deluded as to not believe one was guilty .. crazy. Thanks so much for your kind words!

  6. This is such a wonderful post, Stacy. I knew serial killer groupies existed–in theory. Now you’ve made them real to me, and I couldn’t be more horrified.It’s truly fascinating how people can rationalize just about anything away…

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Kristine. They are a fascinating culture to me, and you’re right, it’s amazing – and scary – how the mind can rationalize. I don’t know exactly what makes them tick, but I’d have to say all of them suffer from some serious mental issues, and I’d bet self-esteem is a major one.

  7. Absolutely fascinating, Stacy, and soooo creepy (especially the bit about Carol Anne Boone potentially smuggling Ted Bundy’s semen out of prison? Gross.). I had heard in the past about all of the mail that Charles Manson receives from his female fans, but I didn’t know about all of these other cases.

    • Thank you, Lena. I’ve been looking forward to this post, and I’m so glad everyone liked it. Yeah, I don’t know how Boone may have done that, but I’ve heard about some crazy stuff happening within prisons. Yes, Manson is very popular, and a total enigma to me. I’ll never understand how he managed to brainwash so many people.

  8. Ruby Barnes

    Wow! Most women over here in Ireland are Catholic. I wonder how many are having long-distance relationships?! The Bundy thing with groupies dressing as his preferred victim type is just so weird. Somehow these groupies seem to be able to park the true horror part of the person and get lured by the persona.
    I squirmed at the suggestion of serial killer semen smuggling. On the other hand I’d believe it. A woman smuggled a budgie into Portlaoise (Irelan’s only maximum security) prison in her knickers a couple of years ago, apparently.

    • The Catholic part is interesting to me, but I think it’s a pretty broad generalization. Yeah, the Bundy groupies/lookalikes blew my mind. With all he’d done, being capture twice, and being so calm and cold on the stand, I don’t know how any woman could be anything but terrified of him.

      Wow on the woman smuggling into maximum security. It’s unreal to even think about.


  9. There are some women out there who believe that they can be the one to rehabilitate “bad” men. They have faith in the power of love and understanding. You only focused on the ones who pick high profile killers, there’s a thousand more who settled with the local thug.

    • You’re right, Tom. There are a lot of women like that – so many who go for the bad boys and think they can make them better. Thanks.

  10. Have you seen that show about women who marry prisoners? I forgot the name… It’ll come to me. 😉 I think such interest in serial killers comes from a variety of factors, none of them good.

    On a side note, my first date in Hollywood was with a guy who played a serial killer in a movie I’d just seen. Creepy realization mid-date! Fortunately, he turned out to be a super nice, non-killer-type guy.

    • Yes, I’ve seen that show a couple of times. Just wild. I don’t understand the compulsion to marry someone behind bars, but I’d bet fear of intimacy and abandonment has a lot to do with it.

      Crazy about your first Hollywood date. So glad he only turned out to be acting;)

  11. At this stage in my life, I can believe just about anything. There was song from the 80s called “Mama We’re All Crazy Now.” That says it all. LOL

    Locally, these two turds killed three people over a Camaro. The turds had the Camaro a total of 72 hours before the police got them. One of the turds got the death penalty. The other turd got something like 40 years in prison. There is no way turd #2 can be released before he’s in his 60s. And…since he’s been in the pen…he got married. The woman who married him is educated and knew exactly what he’d done when she married him. Somehow they smuggled his semen out of prison, and she had his child. Nice, huh?

    • LOL, me too.

      That’s just crazy. I don’t know how the hell you smuggle anything out of prison, let alone some guys semen. I mean … did they have a conjugal visit? Then why the need to smuggle? And if not, weren’t their normal visits supervised? Inquiring minds want to know;)

      • Now, I may be wrong on this. But I think in Texas there are no conjugal visits. So that’s why they’d smuggle out the semen.

        Here’s what I don’t understand. Why would you want to have a kid with a guy who is in prison and who is not going to be around to help you and to be a part of that kid’s life?

        • No idea. Unless you want to bilk the welfare system. And anyone’s semen is good for that, lol. Seriously disturbed. I’d guess it would have to do with the lifetime connection they would have to them.

  12. This is super-creepy to me. It’s a little like some friend who dated a total jerk, and we were all screaming, “He’s bad news!!!” and she continued to smile and say, “You just don’t know him like I do.” *rolling eyes* *slapping friend*

    The abusive childhood was not a surprise, and I have a few theories about the Catholicism link. (My bachelor’s degree in history focused on church history. Anyway…) However, I don’t blame the Catholic religion since a lot of charitable people have that in common too. Basically, if you’re crazy, you’re crazy. However you got there, you need serious help.

    Fascinating topic, Stacy.

    • You’re right, it is like that. Would love to hear your theories about the Catholicism link some time. And I do think including Catholicism was pretty general and needed to be explained more.


  13. Candy Korman

    Great post! These serial killer groupies seem like an extreme version of the girls who go for bad boys — really bad boys. Fascinating to a fiction writer, difficult people in real life.

    Thanks for the in-depth discussion of a few of the stars in that universe.

    • You’re absolutely right. They are definitely of that ilk and combined with a ton of other issues.

      You’re very welcome. Thanks for the compliment:)

    • So glad you enjoyed, and I’m loving your comment. Thanks!

      And no clue. This would make for an awesome thesis or dissertation project, tho.

  14. Just the thought of having a serial killer touch me at all, let alone in a romantic way, makes my skin crawl. I don’t understand the appeal at all.

    In a way though, knowing these women show a common link of an abusive childhood, I can understand how they want to believe these men are innocent or that they can change them. They’re still trying to fix what went wrong in their childhoods. They couldn’t change the person who abused them, but maybe they can “save” this man and when they do, they’ll prove to themselves that it wasn’t their fault they were abused.

    • I don’t either. I wouldn’t be able to get past my fear, and I certainly don’t see how one could be trusted.

      You make a good point about the childhoods of these women, and I do think may of them do have the need to save others, and I think you’re spot on, they’re looking for some sort validation.


  15. Pingback: Gross Groupies and Gruesome Egos « Killers Without Conscience

  16. Stigma

    My ex (who turned out to be a sociopath herself) actually used to date a serial killer before me. In scandinavia we don’t have life sentence, you’re released after 21 years..
    I’m only now starting to realize how messed up my ex truly was

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