The Serial Killer GroupieS

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, she says, 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.) That's not all. Says SFWeekly, at the present time

She's hoping to receive responses to letters she sent to three men: Charles Manson, the leader of the Manson Family cult who was found guilty of conspiring to murder; Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker), a serial killer and rapist on death row at San Quentin; and Richard Allen Davis, also on death row for the 1993 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klaas..She routinely visits web forums like Write-a-Murderer, where she has learned how to find out the location and identification numbers of prisoners she intends to contact, as well as what subjects to bring up and what ones to avoid.

Of course, women who are attracted to killers is not a new phenomenon. Spiegel's psychiatrist — who apparently had no problem talking about the case, in general terms, to the paper — explains of 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, 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."

And according to the author of Women Who Love Men Who Kill, of the many she interviewed, "most were Catholic, and they had all suffered abuse in childhood." There's also a sense of safety when a man's locked up, a certain power dynamic that may feel heady, and often a lot more devotion than you'd get from a guy outside. Naturally, some women like to think of changing monsters, too. Says Spiegel, "I like the idea of nurturing a side of them that doesn't get nurtured."

But still...pedophiles and murderers? It seems that for some women, the celebrity is part of the attraction: women like Samantha "crave attention from famous killers." 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.

I 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 think, '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."

She never actually got to the point of "recruiting" anyone.

Of course, there may be other psychological factors at play. Although it becomes clear in the course of the piece that Samantha is deeply disturbed and putting herself in dangerous situations — by the end, she considers 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.

Killer Groupie Samantha Spiegel [SFWeekly]