Believe It Or Not, Scott Peterson, Convicted Wife-Killer, Has Groupies
Since Peterson first got arrested in 2003, admirers have continually loaded his prison bank account with donations.
According to The San Francisco Gate, Scott Peterson had been on San Quentin’s Death Row for less than one hour back in 2005 when the first phone call came in from a woman who wanted to marry him.
Over the course of the next 24 hours, San Quentin spokesman Vernell Crittendon said, nearly 40 more calls came in from other women, each offering support, assistance, money and, indeed, more wedding proposals.
Crittendon added that love letters poured in to the penitentiary in even greater numbers. He said:
“Much of that mail is from people who do not know Scott Peterson personally, and most of them are females … A lot of women writing to Mr. Peterson believe he is innocent or think he is very handsome.”
Since Peterson first got arrested in 2003, admirers have continually loaded his prison bank account with donations. He’s allowed to spend up to $180 a month on commissary items such as coffee, snacks, toothpaste, and grooming products — and he’s never fallen short.
Peterson is also granted limited internet access, and while he hasn’t used it to directly attract additional female fans, it certainly hasn’t hurt him in that department.
A report in 2015 described Peterson’s San Quentin life as “cushy,” the result of his receiving continuous special treatment behind bars. Even the otherwise dispassionate female journalist who broke that story said on TV that Peterson was “buff-looking” and came off not like the perverse killer he is, but more like a charming “college athlete.”
It all begs a single question: What is this man’s amorous appeal?
Let’s remember some specific downsides: in 2002, Scott Peterson strangled or suffocated his hugely expectant wife, Laci, on board his fishing boat. He then tied weights to her body and sank her to the bottom of the San Francisco Bay — on Christmas Eve.
Even if spouse-and-unborn-baby homicide isn’t an immediate turnoff (and, really, it should be), Peterson had also been living a double life by dating Amber Frey — a woman who had no idea he was married, let alone awaiting the birth of his son.
To be sure, Peterson boasts movie star looks and photogenic charisma, but the world is full of attractive men who manage to stay off Death Row. Still, it’s not just Peterson who pulls such attention.
Lyle and Erik Menendez, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Richard Ramirez — a literal murderer’s row of especially notorious killers — all ended up either engaged or married while in permanent lock-up. And, again, we have to ask — why?
First off, human infatuation with society’s worst offenders has long been named as a disordered sexual condition — hybristophilia. The condition is defined as:
“A paraphilia in which sexual arousal, facilitation, and attainment of orgasm are responsive to and contingent upon being with a partner known to have committed an outrage, cheating, lying, known infidelities, or crime—such as rape, murder, or armed robbery.”
Thus, there’s nothing new under the sun — or in Scott Peterson’s San Quentin mailbox.
For her book Women Who Love Men Who Kill, author Sheila Eisenberg interviewed more than 30 subjects who were engaged to marry Death Row inmates. Eisenberg offers these thoughts:
“Most of these women had been abused in their earlier lives, by parents, fathers, first husbands, or first boyfriends. So a relationship with a man behind bars is a safe relationship. The guy can’t hurt them … [The relationship] is always dangerous and exciting. ‘Can he make the phone call?’ ‘Will he be executed?’ Will he spend 30 years in prison?’ All these exciting elements. It’s never mundane.”
From the other perspective, Dr. Tony Clarke, a psychologist and criminal profiler, notes that the prisoner is also after excitement, and that Scott Peterson and his ilk can be devilishly persuasive. Clarke stated:
“Psychopaths in jail are expert at manipulating people, and they specialize with people who have low self-esteem. Psychopaths test [their admirers’] vulnerability extremely quickly and then exploit them to get what they want … for sex, money, or boredom. It’s boring in jail.”
World-renowned FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood echoes the other opinions regarding the fans’ unhealthy sense of themselves, writing:
“There are some people (mostly females) 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.”
Another factor is simply sheer star power, regardless of the gruesome context. Dr. Jack Levin, who co-authored Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder, calls such women “killer groupies,” and said:
“They love the celebrity status. These are the same women who might correspond with a rock star or a rap artist.”
Rick Messick, another San Quentin staffer who has observed the outpourings from Scott Peterson’s gushing groupies, agrees with Levin. Messick said:
“You take our five highest-profile killers here, and you’ve got your answer about who the most popular inmates are. I think it’s just the publicity that attracts people.”
Furthermore, Messick pointed out that Richard Allen Davis, the sicko who kidnapped and slit the throat of 12-year-old Polly Klaas, “probably gets more mail than most.” Messick also noted that “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez continued to receive wedding proposals even after he got married.
Given those factors, perhaps it’s not so surprising that Scott Peterson is a magnet for female attention — at least in these insane circumstances.