Death Row Romeo. Just what is it about women and serial killers?
'Who's your boyfriend?'
'Oh he's a notorious serial killer.'
My article examines some of the psychology behind women's pechant for serial killers. From Ted Bundy to Ramirez. These men have all had their female followings.
Death Row Romeo
Have you ever wondered what it is that women see in these men? I was talking to a friend of mine two years ago who had recently pulled a girl in a nightclub. When he asked her what she was into she looked at him very seriously and replied ‘serial killers.’ She then proceeded to roll up her sleeve and show him her Ted Bundy tattoo.
The sweet pea Girl
Women have had this strange affinity with criminals for centuries. In 1895 William Durrant was on trial for a series of murders. A woman would turn up every morning and present him with a bouquet of Sweet Peas. Durrant wore one in his buttonhole while in court. The woman who became familiarly known as The Sweet Pea Girl was already married and her appearances at Durrant’s trial deeply troubled her spouse. She tried to see the accused in his cell but he refused.
Law student Ted Bundy who had sex with his victims after killing then had a following known as ‘Ted’s Groupies’. Bundy hated woman and wanted to kill them yet he was getting over two hundred letters a day from women who claimed they loved him.
John Wayne Gacy Jr.
Former children’s birthday party clown John Wayne Gacy Jr. killed thirty three boys and raped numerous others. He married a woman who was in denial about his killings.
Richard Ramirez was the dark and brooding type, a Satanist who was nicknamed ‘Death Row Romeo.’ He was nicknamed The Night Stalker after terrorising LA in 1985. Ramirez married a forty year old magazine editor with a BA in English Literature. She had sent him over seventy five letters until she was allowed to visit him in prison.
The list of cases is endless. Now let’s put to bed a couple of assumptions.
1. These men are devastatingly attractive? In some cases yes, however Henry Lee Lucas (who had killed three hundred people) had a female following and yet he only had one eye!
2. The woman who fall for serial killers are uneducated? No. As we have seen from the case of Ramirez, his wife had a degree.
Power, a heady aphrodisiac.
Men who have killed repeatedly gain ‘celebrity’ status. At the time Ted Bundy was convicted of serial killings the media was full of his presence. Some people get turned on by power and celebrities who are in the public eye. Pop stars, news presenters and yes even killers regularly attain groupies and stalkers.
1. Attention seeking. The groupie may crave attention. Being involved in the life of a high profile figure also brings media attention onto them, as in the case of the Sweet Pea Girl.
2. Delusion. They are deluded that whatever the killer has done to other women, it won’t happen to them. They view themselves as ‘special’ or believe that they can ‘tame’ him. These women may have inflated egos or suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Another possibility is that the woman refuses to believe the crimes her ‘love’ has committed. Maxine Carr provided a false alibi for Ian Huntley after the murders of Holly and Jessica Chapman. She claims that she genuinely believed he was innocent.
3. Past history. Such women have themselves perhaps been abused. The subconscious may draw them towards undesirable men who are similar to their father figure. They may subconsciously desire to be raped or killed due to learned patterns of behaviour. They may therefore deliberately put themselves in compromising situations.
4. ‘Safety’/control of destiny. Women with a history of sexual or physical abuse may favour men behind bars because they are ‘safe’. The woman can have a ‘relationship’ with the person without having to actually become intimate or live with them on a day to day basis. The woman has control over when she sees him. See it as a rather warped method of self-protection.
5. Danger. As Alexander Burke sang it ‘I’m drawn to danger and have been all of my life.’ What more is there to say?
6. Doing it for the thrill. The Drama Queen pursues a serial killer or dangerous man for the romance and excitement of unrequited love. They want what they can’t have and yet never actually get it together.
7. Maternal instinct. Waitress Dagmar Polson claims she fell for Bobby Lee Harris because ‘it was something in his eyes; remorse, the sadness. I was attracted and knew he was the one.’ Just as a mother is biologically drawn to a distressed child, some women are drawn to serial killers out of sympathy and maternal instinct. Polzin saw Lee Harris going through the repercussions of his actions and doubtless wanted to ‘save’ him.
8. OCD/chronic infatuation. Some women develop obsessions. Adoring a pop star and having his poster up in your room at school is normal behaviour, obsessing over a serial killer and sending him worn knickers is not healthy behaviour. Myra Hindley at the centre of The Moors Murders enquiry became infatuated with Ian Brady at the age of eighteen.
9. Low self-esteem/self-worth. A woman with a low opinion of herself may go after a dangerous man because he comes across as charming and she does not believe she can do any better.
10. Bonnie & Clyde Syndrome, also known as hybristophilia is sexual arousal or excitement brought about by associating with those who have committed acts such as rape and murder.
11. Borderline Personality Disorder. One of the key symptoms in cases of Borderline Personality Disorder is idealization. The patient has ‘black and white’ thinking and often exaggerates qualities and attributes in others.
ALONE WITH A DANGEROUS MAN
Is it always the woman’s weakness?
Perhaps it is the killer’s ruthlessness; their ability to manipulate, charm and seduce that excites even the sanest woman.