Published March 23, 2005
NEW YORK – Scott Peterson has been called many things since he was convicted of murdering his wife and unborn child last week.
A liar. A murderer. A sociopath.
A total babe?
Admirers started coming out of the woodwork — and posting love notes on various Web blogs — even before the 32-year-old killer landed on San Quentin Prison's death row last week.
A prison spokesman said San Quentin (search) received dozens of calls, letters and even two marriage proposals for Peterson.
Surprised? You shouldn't be.
The average woman probably wouldn't list depraved indifference to life and a death-row address in her "turn-ons" column, but there's a strange and dogged group of women who do, guaranteeing the country's most notorious killers a supply of eager pen-pal paramours.
"It's so classic," said Cliff Linedecker, a true-crime writer who wrote the book "Prison Groupies" about women smitten by killers. "The more notorious they are, the more groupies they tend to attract."
Peterson promises to bring women out in force, said Linedecker, because of his clean-cut good looks and the nature of his crime.
"They especially like wife-killers," he said. "It adds to the thrill."
Richard Ramirez (search), a Satanist on death row for a shockingly brutal string of rapes, murders and mutilations, "had women falling all over him," even fighting one another for his attentions, said Linedecker. (In 1996, Ramirez married a 41-year-old magazine editor.)
Even John Wayne Gacy (search), "a very unattractive guy — and a homosexual, too, which you'd think might be a deterrent — had all kinds of women after him," Linedecker said.
"Preppie Killer" Robert Chambers (search) had to be transferred to another prison because so many aspiring girlfriends were smuggling him contraband — and when he was released last year, one was waiting for him.
Numerous love affairs — and two actual weddings have resulted, said Lamourie, who adds that her group has received a number of e-mails from women who want to contact Peterson.
Why would any woman go out of her way to form a relationship with a convicted killer?
"It's very complicated," said Sheila Isenberg, author of the book "Women Who Love Men Who Kill."
One reason is the notoriety. Killers may be famous for doing stomach-turning things, but they're famous nonetheless.
"If you want to get together with a celebrity, Brad Pitt won't answer your letters, but Scott Peterson might well," she said.
Another appeal of a death-row inmate is that he has a lot of time on his hands to write poetry and love letters.
Plus, Isenberg says, violence holds an allure in our society — "and who's the most macho man of all? Well, he's the one who did the murder. And if it's a particularly heinous murder, then he's even more macho. And people are attracted to that in some strange way."
Other killer groupies have savior complexes. Linedecker relates the tale of a young woman from a Christian church group — "a real innocent" — who started a relationship with a convicted killer in California. When they met at a motel after his release, he raped her and cut her legs off.
But the most important factor, Isenberg concluded, is that these women are almost all victims of abuse, and they're attracted to the control offered by a relationship with a man behind bars.
"It's basically a safe relationship, and she has control of it," Isenberg said. And a death-row inmate "has very limited interaction with the world, so she's going to be even more in control."
Karen Richey — a 41-year-old grandmother from Glasgow, Scotland, who has been in love with a man on Ohio's death row since 1988 — says not every romance with an inmate is the result of a jailbird fetish.
"I thought I could be a friend to someone who I was sure was going to die," she told The Post from Glasgow. "We wrote back and forth. Little by little, we fell in love."
Her fiance, Kenny Richey (whose name she's taken), now stands to be a free man after the recent overturning of his arson conviction for a blaze that killed a 2-year-old girl in 1986.
Unlike Peterson, Karen's man is no death-row Don Juan.
"His teeth are falling out. He's got diabetes. I can't explain it. I know you'll probably hear from some of these women who say, 'My guy is innocent because he's so gorgeous and he told me he didn't do it.' I'm not one of those people. I checked him out. And I was right."