There are people who become absorbed in their fascination with notorious serial killers such as Ted Bundy. Some of these people become groupies who seek out and stalk the object of their obsession. Incredibly, there are groupies who even become the lover or spouse of an infamous predator.
For example, Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker) married an obsessed journalist and groupie, Doreen Lioy, in 1996 while he was awaiting execution in California. Lioy vowed to commit suicide the day Ramirez was executed but he died of liver failure while still on death row in 2013.
The legendary former FBI criminal profiler Roy Hazelwood commented to me on such extreme behavior:
"There are some people (mostly females, but also males) who are fascinated by corresponding or meeting with serial offenders. Here I am referring to individuals who correspond not to learn but to [develop a] relationship. Some women even "fall in love" with these men, believing them to be misunderstood. Such people, in my opinion, generally have low self-esteem. By interacting with serial killers, they fulfill their own need for attention."
Roy Hazelwood further explained that in certain rare instances, a groupie wants to experience the crimes of the killer vicariously through him. Hazelwood told me that he has seen this phenomenon predominantly among female groupies of male killers.
The groupie’s obsession leads her to contact the perpetrator of the crimes in prison. Her goal is to establish a relationship with the criminal in order to learn intimate details about the crimes that no one else knows. According to Hazelwood, this makes the groupie feel special and gives her a vicarious thrill—as if she took part in the crimes.
The former profiler noted that in very rare instances such as Gerald and Charlene Gallego, a killer’s spouse will participate in his crimes. Hazelwood said, “I interviewed four women who participated with their husbands in the murder of others. Every one of them admitted to being afraid of the killer and yet aroused by the acts.”
Similar feelings of excitement, fear and euphoria are often expressed by members of the public when describing their own fascination with serial killers and mass murderers, as I explain in my forthcoming book “Why We Love Serial Killers.”
Dr. Scott Bonn is professor of sociology and criminology at Drew University. He is available for consultation and media commentary. His new book Why We Love Serial Killers will be released by Skyhorse Press in October 2014. Follow him @DocBonn on Twitter and visit his websiteDocBonn.Com