Department of English and American Studies Public Image of Richard Ramirez:

Masaryk University
Faculty of Arts
Department of English
and American Studies
English Language and Literature
Kateřina Fryčová
Public Image of Richard Ramirez:
An American Serial Killer
Bachelor’s Diploma Thesis
Supervisor: doc. PhDr. Tomáš Pospíšil, Dr.
I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.
Author’s signature
I would like to thank my supervisor doc. PhDr. Tomáš Pospíšil, Dr. for his valuable
advice and comments. I would also like to thank my husband Lukáš for supplying me
with his support and care while I was working on this thesis, and for listening to all
those theories and ideas I came up with. Last but not least, I want to thank my family,
especially my daughter Nela, my Mom and my grandparents for their love and support.
Table of Contents
1. INTRODUCTION.........................................................................................................5
2. SERIAL KILLER CELEBRITY CULTURE...............................................................7
2.1. The Role of Mass Media........................................................................................7
2.2. Fictional Serial Killers.........................................................................................11
3. THE EARLY LIFE AND CRIMES OF RICHARD RAMIREZ................................16
3.1. The Ruined Childhood.........................................................................................16
3.2. Becoming The Night Stalker—Terrorizing California........................................18
4. THE TRIAL OF RICHARD RAMIREZ....................................................................21
4.1. Adjournments......................................................................................................21
4.2. Execution.............................................................................................................22
4.3. Ramirez's Groupies..............................................................................................23
5. WRITING TO A KILLER..........................................................................................28
6. KILLERS ON THE INTERNET.................................................................................30
6.1. Crime Library and Murderpedia..........................................................................30
6.2. Fan Sites and Social Networks ..........................................................................32
6.3. Murderabilia Industry..........................................................................................33
7. CONCLUSION...........................................................................................................37
8. WORKS USED AND CITED.....................................................................................39
8. ABSTRACT................................................................................................................43
9. RESUMÉ.....................................................................................................................44
The USA is a country with one of the highest occurrence of serial killers in the
world. It is also a country where its serial killers have become iconic figures and
fascinating subjects of mass media industry and personal fantasies and desires. The aim
of this thesis, choosing the Night Stalker Richard Ramirez as its case study, is to
demonstrate the celebrity status of serial killers in the contemporary American society,
for they are as celebrities presented.
The thesis starts with the serial killer celebrity culture, showing how mass media
benefit from the gruesome events happening around the country, giving them much
more space than to any other news, and, therefore, making from the perpetrators of such
events the most interesting phenomenon that is worth to be aware of. It also
demonstrates how public reacts to such news and how media go even further by making
fictitious killers from real life killers, particularly in the movies, who are subsequently
celebrated as heroes, which leads to a wrong supposition that real killers are of the same
kind as the fictitious ones.
Next two chapters deal with the life, crimes and the trial of Richard Ramirez in
order to raise an awareness of the potential reader about who Ramirez is. The trial
chapter already touches the serial killer groupie phenomenon, the term that will be
explained later in its subchapter. In view of the fact Ramirez has been on death row for
24 years, it is necessary to explain the reason why he has not been executed yet.
The fifth chapter provides information about how easy it is to obtain an address
of the killer on the Internet. It also calls attention to various organizations which for
money, working on the same base as dating agencies, can find a perfect penfriend match
among killers for anyone who wishes to be involved in the correspondence with such
The last chapter before the conclusion discusses the serial killers on the Internet,
the serial killer magazines and encyclopedias as well as individual fan sites and social
networks. Special attention is drawn to murderabilia industry which specializes in
selling serial killers artifacts.
The term celebrity once meant a person who was a leader, whose qualities one
admired and aspired to. Today it means only someone whose name and face is known
for whatever reason. As David Schmid, a cultural studies professor at the University of
Buffalo, states in his book, “One now achieves fame not by performing meritorious acts
or possessing outstanding qualities, but by being seen” (9). Mass media play a
significant role in defining and disseminating fame and the celebrity status because they
are the most powerful means of spreading information. They can reach a worldwide
audience which is something that was quite unique before their expansion. If any news
spread around the world, it was definitely not the one about a crime that occurred in a
neighbor village. Yet people have always been interested in criminals, as they were
phenomenon not to be seen very often. With the mass media development, what once
used to be kept on a local level, has now become a worldwide commotion.
2.1. The Role of Mass Media
Representation of criminality has always had an important role in the American
mass media. Since the development of “yellow journalism” at the late nineteenth
century, sensational news, more than any other news, often held a prominent place in
American popular culture. According to David J. Krajicek, an American journalist
interested in true crime, the occurrence of sensational news even doubled during the
1980s. Those were the years which have seen the biggest change in how the American
mass media represent crime. “Media have done an increasingly poor job of developing a
balance between what is interesting and what is important … Newspapers and television
news broadcasts [have] lowered their editorial standards in order to compete with
tabloid media” (30). This has had a damaging impact upon the reporting of crime.
Instead of the objective stories about the crime problems, the mass media audience have
been receiving stories about the “sensational trial of the year”, “the most horrific
murders of the century”, and therefore, the criminals who commit them.
The media commonly overemphasize violent crime. “The selection of crime
problems is often limited to the most bizarre or gruesome act a journalist or investigator
can uncover … Although murder constitutes a tiny fraction of all crimes committed in
the United States, murder and other crimes of violence dominate media reporting of
crime” (Schmid 14), which leads to minimization of other crimes. According to Elliot
Leyton, a Canadian social-anthropologist, the media further distinguish between a
murderer and a multiple murderer, preferring the latter. He claims that “No one ever
became famous by beating his wife to death …; but virtually all multiple murderers
achieve true and lasting fame. They are the subjects of articles and books, radio and
television shows – for the remainder of their lives – and they thus attain an immortality”
(16). Most single murderers do not even warrant news coverage, unless there is
something unique about them or their victims. Serial killer is a type of a multiple
murderer who have killed three or more victims, but each was killed on separate
occasions over weeks, months or years, often with an inactive period in between the
killings. It should not be confused with mass murderer and spree killer who are both
considered to be multiple murderers, but of different kinds. Mass murderer kills four or
more people at one location during one continuous period of time, and spree killer kills
two or more victims with no inactive period between the killings, but on more than one
location. His or her spree is thus considered to be a single event (Montaldo).
Serial murder fascinates society more than single murder. According to Julie B.
Wiest's, who has received her M.A. on a thesis dealing with serial killers in The New
York Times coverage, research: “In the case of single murder, people in society tend to
identify and sympathize with the victim and his or her family and demand punishment
for the crime, but serial murder shifts the focus and attention from the victims to the
killer” (2). One is aware of the victims, but the killer and his or her intentions are what
really matter and interest. The serial killer's motive is usually unknown, and anyone can
become his or her victim. When newspapers and other media report that serial killer is
around, everyone becomes involved in the case. “People feel important to the
investigation because all of society is asked to be on the lookout for the killer. From the
first murder to the capture of the killer, society is involved in the case of serial murder.
Then, they become fascinated with the killer as his or her personal story, views, and
motives are unfold in the news” (2).
Serial killer is a dominant media figure because he personifies the tabloid
sensation. The more sensational the case is, the more attention it receives. Serial killer is
all scandal, all the time. The preference for the scandal, the bizarre and gruesome “is in
turn determined by the competitive nature of modern media: By culling unique and
fascinating issues for public exhibition, the media ensures the marketability and success
of a given media production” (Kappeler et al. 5). The media sensationalize topics for the
sake of ratings rather than reporting.
The tabloidization and overemphasizing of violent crime have led to the rise of a
media icon that has been described as “the faceless predator criminal, a figure who
represents the American public's attempt to embody the seemingly omnipresent and
anonymous threat of violent crime” (Schmid 14). In order to generate public interest,
the media's attempt is then to give name and face to this faceless predator criminal. The
name is “serial killer” which then gains face of identifiable cast of characters such as
Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, and Jeffrey Dahmer.
By the media competitiveness, primarily in the 1980s, a serial killer panic was
born. It was supposed to look like serial killers were a new phenomenon, which was
growing enormously, as there was a large number of serial killers active at that time.
Media can shape people's understanding of their world, and through this extensive
coverage of murder in eighties, people began to believe that crime was on the rise. They
believed it was a very important issue, otherwise it would not have such a great interest
of the media.
As Philip Jenkins, a former professor of Criminal Justice and American Studies
at the Pennsylvania State University, emphasizes in his article Myth and Murder: The
Serial Killer Panic of 1983-1985, different forms of media smoothly worked together to
disseminate this panic: “The visual media strongly reinforced the concept of a new and
appalling menace … Each of the major news magazines had at least one story of this
format, while an HBO America Undercover documentary focused on three well-known
serial killers of the last decade: Ted Bundy, Edmund Kemper, and Henry Lee Lucas.
Interviews with all three were featured, as were harrowing reconstructions, using
actors” (55). This panic has made celebrities out of a large number of serial killers for
they were presented everywhere. Many serial killers have been given nicknames that
reflected some elements of their killing style, such as the Night Stalker, or the location
of their killings, for example, the Boston Strangler. This nicknaming further served to
promote the killer in the media and heighten the fear among people.
Mass media generally lack sense of ethic and morality. Television companies are
capable of broadcasting movies about psychopathic killers of sorority sisters just a few
days after murders of two female students sleeping in their dormitory room who were
killed by an unknown intruder (who later turned out to be Ted Bundy), as it happened in
Florida in 1978 (Schmid 22). In 1989, three weeks after Richard Ramirez was sentenced
to death, one production company released a movie Manhunt: Search for the Night
Stalker based on the true story of this Californian killer. Media are keen to provide their
audience with all of the details and similarities, stories of the killers' lives, and core
information about their murders that the killers gain an official status of being
celebrities from the very beginning. What is more, the public is keen to know such
information because otherwise the media would not have the reason to provide it. It is a
cycle in which both media and public participate. Media awaken the interest and
fascination among people, and people, by keeping this interest and fascination alive,
make media pursue the stories over and over again.
Public response to serial killers combine repulsion and condemnation with
attraction and admiration. “Even though the “normal” celebrity (for example, the film
star) seems to be a wholly loved and admired figure, in fact the public's relation to the
celebrity is also characterized by resentment, even violent hatred” (Schmid 6). It is
similar with the serial killer who seems to inspire only the hatred. And yet, there are
many people who feel fascinated by him or her and consider him or her to be admirable.
Mass media benefit from both the fascination and the horror that the public feels
towards the killers.
2.2. Fictional Serial Killers
People gain so many of their ideas about the world from what they see presented
in the media. Especially the movies have a significant impact on how one perceives the
world. Schmid claims that there are two main features present in the American
cinematic culture, and that is stardom and violence (105). By combining these, one get
movies such as Psycho (1960), Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Silence of the Lambs
(1991). The last mentioned movie received such a great extent of popularity that no
other movie of this kind before and no other after has ever achieved. The character of
Hannibal Lecter portrayed by one of the most talented living actors, Sir Anthony
Hopkins, gained himself an iconic status of a serial killer who is extremely intelligent,
charming, and both physically and mentally powerful. Leyton says it is no wonder
women sometimes fall in love with real serial killers, “for they are presented as the
ultimate sexualised celebrity males … In the process of transforming killers into Super
Heroes, the killers are inevitably glorified as Super Males when they are nothing of the
kind” (2-6). Real killers are no Hannibal Lecter, for if they were, there would be many
more dead people around.
As Richard Whittington-Egan, a British criminologist, speculates in his essay,
most known serial killers are of average intelligence, coming from broken families
“where they have themselves been subjected to gross cruelty … and systematic torture
… Quite often they have at some time in their lives sustained [serious] head injuries”
(327). They are often loners, experiencing difficulty with relationships, and showing
neither empathy nor remorse towards their victims.
Although the real killers may not be that intelligent like Lecter, they are no less
dangerous. Yet it is probably the danger in the first place that seems to cause masses of
people to feel fascinated by them. It is both the danger that surrounds them and the
danger they undergo when committing a crime. “The serial killer both outrages and
thrills us by his seeming ability to stand outside the law, to make his own law, in a
gesture whose ambivalent destructiveness and creativity mirror our ambivalent response
to the killer, composed of both fear and attraction” (Schmid 24). It is certainly difficult
to acknowledge this feelings, but although the killers may be fascinating, media should
not make heroes of them. In fact, media are exactly the conduits through which serial
killers receive their fame and notoriety. Many people even think that the extensive
media coverage of a serial killer encourages him or her to continue killing. This entire
media presentation is, as Leyton declares, “a potentially serious cultural problem
because such thrillers [like The Silence of the Lambs] appear to glorify and validate
everything that is deformed in the human psyche, and may lead our most vulnerable
young people in directions we would not wish them to go” (1).
Since 1980s, when the occurrence of active serial killers in the United States
plainly exploded, publishers and film-makers have simply believed there is an immense
market for stories on such theme. The serial killer has become a part of American
culture like the cowboy. According to Jenkins, an interest in true crime can be traced
back to the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century, although it was not until 1888,
when the Jack the Ripper case brought the great publicity to this topic (Using 81-2).
Jack the Ripper has occurred in an enormous number of books and later movies since
his first murder. “The idea of using a serial killer as a fictional villain [in mass media] is
by no means a recent innovation, but the volume of such depictions has expanded
enormously over the last … decades” (Using 81). The portrayal of the killers has grown
in number, and the way the killers are portrayed has changed with it. Those who once
used to be “monstrous lunatics” are now “far more complex images” (Using 95) such as
Sir Anthony Hopkins' Dr. Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs with two sequels, Woody
Harrelson's Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killers (1994), Christian Bale's Patrick
Bateman in American Psycho (2000), and Elijah Wood's Frank in recent Maniac
(2012). The makers of Maniac went even that far that the entire movie is shot from the
killer's point of view. It is difficult then to remain without even a bit of positive emotion
towards the killers when the spectators are confronted with the stories of the killers'
lives that are in most cases forlorn and miserable.
Sometimes for the media the movies are not enough, and when this happens a
series is born. This year is going to be the eighth year of a successful broadcasting of
the Showtime TV channel's series about the “everyone's favorite serial killer”, Dexter
(“Official Website of Dexter”). Michael C. Hall, the actor who portrays Dexter Morgan
—a Miami forensic expert, who spends his days solving crimes, and nights committing
them—has won a Golden Globe award for his role in Dexter. This series is another
example of the celebration of the serial killer phenomenon, making a hero from a killer
who, as the official website proclaims, everyone loves.
These all-star cast movies and series and the very own interest of other media
cause the public to feel the attraction towards such people, and when it is almost
impossible to get in touch with the “normal” celebrity portraying them, who are usually
the very opposites to the characters they play, why not to get in touch with the notorious
The following chapters will try to demonstrate the fame of serial killers on one
particular serial killer, Richard Ramirez. Since his first recognized murder and his
imprisonment above all, Ramirez has enjoyed much popularity from media and,
therefore, the public. It was already mentioned that the movie discussing his life was
released only couple weeks after the end of his trial, which was later followed by
several other movies, dozens of books, essays, and documentaries. It has been stated by
one of the most popular Hollywood actors of the present time, James Franco, a Golden
Globe winner who has been very recently honored with Hollywood Walk of Fame star,
that he is about to start shooting a movie about Ramirez's life which he wants to direct
and at the same time play the main role (Zakarin).
With the development of digital media, the Internet in particular, it is now easy
to find information not just about the killers but also about their fans who run or
contribute to various fanzines and blogs. What is even more startling, these fans
participate in a special kind of consumerism, so called murderabilia industry, where
they sell or exchange particular souvenirs they have received from the killers
themselves. So instead of talking about the movies and books which existence is (at
least after reading this chapter) everyone aware of, the closer look will be taken at the
Internet websites, fan sites, and this murderabilia industry in which Ramirez figures.
But first, it is necessary to mention who Richard Ramirez is and what he has
done. As mentioned on the previous page, it is possible to find all kinds of information
about the killer on the Internet, but in order not to get biased, the information which will
be used here is primarily taken from the one and only authorized Ramirez's biography
written by Philip Carlo, a journalist who spent hundreds hours of interviewing Ramirez
himself, and from A&E Real Life Drama television series that contains interviews with
both Ramirez and Carlo as well as some of the homicide detectives that worked on the
Ramirez's case. The subchapter discussing Ramirez's trial will already contain the rise
of his early fans, demonstrating how far the obsession with a killer may go.
3.1. The Ruined Childhood
Richard, the youngest of five siblings, was born in 1960 in El Paso, Texas to his
Mexican-American parents who had crossed the U.S.-Mexico borders in the late 1940s.
He was an active child who liked to play, dance, and was good at school. However, his
childhood was not a happy one. The family was very religious, Richard's father being
very dominant and abusive person who often punished his children for even small
disobedience. When Richard was older, he used to hide, scared of his father's temper,
often sleeping in the cemeteries because he believed his father would not find him there.
Richard's older brother Joseph suffered from a disease which caused his bones to curve
as they grew (Carlo 183). The other brothers, Robert and Ruben, as soon as they were
old enough, started to smoke marijuana and as for Ruben, he started stealing things and
robbing houses. For his sister Ruth, Richard was a living baby doll. She loved to take
care of him, treating him as he was her own son.
His parents were hard-workers, and although Richard had a nanny and there was
still someone around their house, at the age of two he was knocked unconscious by a
heavy drawer and couple years later suffered from his first seizure. The epilepsy he was
diagnosed with might have been caused by this incident or by the fact that his mother,
when she was pregnant with him, used to work in a shoe factory manipulating with
dangerous chemicals without any protection of breathing the fumes (Biography). Due to
this disease, Richard was unable to do sports at school and, since he was a hyperactive
kid and needed to vent somehow, started to hang out with wrong people doing wrong
Richard had an older cousin, Miguel, who was a Vietnam veteran and a coldblooded killer. In Vietnam, Miguel liked to rape and kill Vietnamese women and
children. To keep this memories alive, he used to take pictures of his doings. And then
he was showing them to young Richard, talking about the awesomeness of taking
someone's life (Carlo 207). To Richard, Miguel was a hero. He was able to do all this
things and get unpunished.
One day, Richard was at Miguel's house and saw how his cousin brutally
murdered his own wife. Although he did not tell anyone he witnessed such incident,
Miguel was soon caught and sent to mental asylum. However, couple years later he was
released, although he was the same unchanged monster as before, and Richard and him
became buddies for once more. Together they were using drugs and robbed, Richard
once again listening to Miguel's war stories, watching the pictures of raped, dead
women over and over again. He was fascinated by them. He knew it was wrong to be
aroused by such brutality, but he could not help himself (Carlo 208). It was undoubtedly
Miguel who had done the final job of what had Richard later become.
Richard came from a very religious family, but soon started to believe that The
Church and Jesus are not the right ones to worship. He was addicted to LSD and other
hallucinogenic drugs and often dreamed about riding with the devil. Satan, he
concluded, was a perfect match to worship. Satan, unlike Jesus, would have approved of
the thoughts and feelings he was having (Carlo 208). Richard wanted to be like Miguel.
He wanted to rape and kill his own victims. Miguel once told him that “having power
over life and death is a high, an incredible rush. It is godlike. You control who will live
and who will die—you are God” (Carlo 208). Miguel gave him all the hints how to
protect himself, how to become unnoticed, and how not to get caught.
Richard's craving for the power over another human being was so strong that
one day he hid in one of the hotel rooms where he used to work while he was in high
school. He attacked a young woman, attempting to rape her, when her husband
appeared and beat him up. Richard was taken to court, but the case was shortly after
dropped because the frightened couple left the town and did not want to have anything
to do with it anymore (Biography). Richard was free and full of confidence that he can
get unpunished as long as he stays in the service of Satan who, he believed, was his
guardian angel.
3.2. Becoming The Night Stalker—Terrorizing California
When he was old enough, he left his home El Paso and moved to Los Angeles.
Surrounded by all these homeless drug addicted people, seeing all those prostitutes on
the streets, “he was like a child in the candy store” (Biography). He found himself a fine
hotel room and began to make money by robbing houses. Addicted to cocaine and other
drugs, this went on and on for many years when one day he got caught for stealing a car
and possessing illegal drugs, and spent six months in a Californian prison. Richard put
his whole faith in Satan. He believed he is like Satan—a fallen angel who will one day
walk in his steps and make great things in his name.
In June 1984, first of his murders occurred. A 79-year-old woman was found
almost decapitated in her apartment. Richard's first intention was not the killing but
ransacking her apartment which he considered to be empty. When he found her lying in
the bed, he just could not resist. “He was certain that Satan … was traveling with him,
and that he would protect him so long as he stayed evil in his heart and showed no
mercy” (Carlo 18), which he obviously did.
For six months Richard was in seclusion, waiting for his next victim. He said
that “to be a good killer you have to plan things out carefully. You've got to be prepared
in every way when the moment comes to strike; you cannot hesitate” (Carlo 17). The
first murder was not planned very carefully, as it was unexpected, and he did not want
to make the same mistake of being unprepared again. He decided to choose the occasion
more carefully.
1985 happened to be the year when the true terror began. During six months,
Richard traveled from town to town around California, entering someone's home,
killing the husband, raping and sodomizing the wife, but at least sparing their children
(if there were any). In case the wife remained obedient and calm, he spared her life as
well. One of his female victims managed to pull out a gun on him which was,
unfortunately for her, unloaded. Ramirez beat her to death and took her eyes as a
trophy. Her eyes were never found, and he never said what he had done with them.
There were several speculations he might have eat them but more probable is he got rid
of them, as he had never showed any cannibalistic tendencies before.
Those six months between his second murder and his capture, Richard managed
to kill over 14 people and commit at least 30 other felony (Biography). He did not care
if his victims were young or old, black or white. Two of his victims were two eighty
year old sisters, subsequently found in their house beaten by a hammer, one dead, the
other sodomized but alive, dying couple months later in a hospital.
Media described him as an intruder, Satan's servant because he was leaving
drawings of pentagrams on his victims' walls and forced his female victims to sing
praises of Satan before he raped them. Media claimed that no one was safe from him, as
he traveled around the Southern California, always choosing a different city for his
striking. He soon gained himself a nickname “The Night Stalker”. People were scared
of leaving their homes after dark and letting their children outside alone. And yet, a fact
which is very interesting, Richard never had to use violence in order to break into
someone else's house. He always found unlocked doors or opened windows, sometimes
unlocked dog holes in the doors. He considered these to be invitations.
He was very active and wanted more and more. However, soon he started to
make mistakes. Sparing the lives of the children and some of the women was
undoubtedly a generous gesture from such killer, but it also meant leaving witnesses
who had seen his face. He was described as a tall, dark, handsome Hispanic with very
bad teeth, and soon couple of police sketches occurred in the streets. Richard was still
using the same guns with the same bullets for killing his victims, so the police knew it
was just a one guy responsible for causing this whole mess. The same shoe print was
found on several crime scenes. What is more important, it belonged to a shoe that had
just recently been brought into America and only couple pairs were sold in California.
All of these could have been sufficient clues for police to find him sooner,
unfortunately, the police of different counties were not really united and cooperative
with each other and often kept the evidence in secret from each other (Biography).
Richard's last sodomized but survived female victim was able to provide full
description of him and his car, as she saw him leaving her house from the window.
Afterwards, the car was found with several fingerprints left on the steering wheel. Due
to Richard's previous arrest for stealing a car, the police finally had a name of their man.
Meanwhile, Richard left the town and traveled to his friends' in Texas. He was
decided to start normal life. He had enough money which he made by ransacking and
robbing of those houses where his victims lived. Unaware of his name and pictures
being in every newspapers, hanging on every bus stop, he for once more entered Los
Angeles. As soon as he got off the bus, people began shouting “Killer! Killer!” and
started chasing him around the streets. Richard knew it was his end because the mobs
were about to kill him. When the police came, Richard was beaten and half death. Yet
they managed to save his life and took him to prison (Biography). California was finally
free and save.
4.1. Adjournments
It took over four years before Ramirez was sentenced to death. His case and the
incidents that provided the case were very unusual. Richard decided not to make it easy
for the court to pass the verdict and claimed his innocence. Although there was much
irrefutable evidence as well as many signs in his behavior, especially towards the
survived victims and their families, such as laughing, pointing and giggling, that were
definite proves of his guilt, the trial was for several reasons many times postponed. First
adjournment was due to the Los Angeles police, which had made a mistake during the
lineup identification because the news of Richard being recently beaten up by the mobs
was spread around by the media (Biography) and, therefore, it was easy to identify him,
as he was the only one hurt in the lineup room.
Richard managed to delay his sentencing for such a long time mainly by
changing his advocates for several times and by his dissatisfaction with some of the
jurors who then had to be replaced. New advocates brought new adjournments,
following new hearings when the same witnesses had to testify all over again, and when
the testimony was even slightly different, new complains were made. It was almost
impossible for some of the minor witnesses, who were not completely involved in the
crime scenes, to recall specific facts so long after the incidents. The court had to go
through every murder Ramirez had committed. Everyone was getting tired of the case.
Richard was recommended to either give up or to declare himself insane, but none of it
he was willing to do. He did not actually believe that he could win, but the troubles his
trial was causing to so many people were making him happy.
One adjournment was caused by an unexpected disappearance of one of the
jurors who was later found murdered. People were scared Ramirez was behind it, yet
this time he had nothing to do with it. The juror was murdered by her boyfriend who
later committed a suicide (Carlo 502). This incident prolonged the trial again for
another months.
Richard, as well as his last advocates, was often faking illnesses or nervous
breakdowns, not able to arrive to the court room. He complained he was being poisoned
in the prison. As he had to be present during the testimonies, the judge was forced to
adjourn the trial for several times.
When the time of announcing the jury's verdict finally came, everyone felt
relieved. Ramirez was sentenced to death nineteen times for committing fourteen
murders and sixty-seven other felonies (Biography). Although his defense tried to get
rid of the death sentencing by appealing on the virtues of the jury, pointing out that the
Night Stalker had let people alive, and blaming the devil for his actions, Richard was
glad for the gas chamber that was waiting for him, stating that he “will rather die than
live in a cage” (Carlo 510). He believed he would be avenged by Satan and then living
with him and other murderers in the kingdom of Hell. Unfortunately for Richard, to this
date he he has been living on the death row of San Quentin State Prison in California.
4.2. Execution
Although it has been over twenty years since he was sentenced to death,
Ramirez is still years away from his last meal. In 1989, he was promised a gas chamber
that was changed to lethal injection, as a gas chamber had been found inhuman. Yet it
seems he will die neither in the gas chamber nor by the lethal injection, but rather of
natural causes, since it is no surprise that a man can sit over fifty years on death row,
especially in California. Natasha Minsker, a death penalty policy director of the ACLU
(American Civil Liberties Union) of Northern California, says that since 1977 only
thirteen people have been executed in California, the rest died of old age, or still lives
waiting for they day to come. Thirteen is a very small number taking into account the
fact that there is over seven hundred men waiting for their execution on San Quentin's
death row. This makes the death penalty in California purely symbolic as Minsker
stated for FOX News Channel in 2010 (Barnes).
The reason why it takes so long to have someone executed is the appeal process
that follows every death sentence. “By law, every death sentence in California has to be
appealed and reviewed by the state's Supreme Court to ensure that no one who is
innocent faces the ultimate penalty” (Barnes). This process is according to Minsker very
slow because it takes couple years for the appeal to be written and filed. In Ramirez's
case, his first appeal did not reach the Californian Supreme Court until 2002. The
Supreme Court denied the appeal in 2006. Although Ramirez's appeal was turned down,
it just ended the process of appeals before the state courts. Before his execution day is
set, the appeal now has to go to the federal courts, which may take another decade or
two to be denied. It is also possible the death sentence will be abolished in California, as
there has been much talk across the country about doing it (Carlo 592). Whether it is
this or that that will prolong Richard's life, he has plenty of time spending in prison in
front of him.
4.3. Ramirez's Groupies
There are many definitions of the term serial killer groupie. As Katherine
Ramsland, a teacher of forensic psychology and criminal justice, points out, “some
people defines SKGs [serial killer groupies] as women who fall in love with those
killers who have been caught and … are in prison. Other definitions include anyone,
male or female, who shows some obsession with serial killer, to the point of extreme
emotional attachment” (“Who Are”). As Richard was considered to be a very
charismatic man, he soon after his arrest gained much popularity from the public. He
was receiving hundreds of letters a week, full of admiration and emboldening from
women, as well as some men, around the country who found him attractive (Carlo 289).
He enjoyed such popularity and was very active in responding.
Since his trial started, the court room was always full of Ramirez's followers and
admirers. “Never before had he had so many female admirers, and lines soon formed to
get into prison to visit with him. While some claimed to believe him innocent, others
just thought he was cute or sexy. Those who sensed how dangerous he was admitted
that this quality aroused them” (Ramsland, “Satan”). Ramirez usually kept in touch with
them via letters. There were only few who had the chance to visit him in the prison
because he refused to meet most.
However, there were many women coming to meet him, waiting in front of the
prison from early mornings, some arguing and fighting one another. An American
television series, A Current Affair, made a whole story calling “Death Row Romeo”
about Richard's female fans. Several of the Ramirez women brought “phallic-shaped
vegetables with them … and sexually excited themselves … while Ramirez watched”
(Carlo 542-4). These women felt aroused by the fact he was so dangerous and so close
but could not hurt them.
One of the admirers was Doreen Lioy, a magazine editor with a B.A. in English
Literature. She became his advocate to the press, defending his innocence. She wrote
many magazine articles which were actually published, claiming he was only a victim
who everyone hurt (Carlo 311). “Doreen sat through every day of the trial, decrying its
unfairness to any journalist who would listen” (Ramsland, “Satan”). She had become
obsessed with him, writing him everyday, sending him money, clothes, and magazines.
Everything he wanted, she purchased for him. “Of all the women who claimed they
were in love with him, Richard felt Doreen was the most grounded” (Carlo 363). He
could trust her, as she was supporting him from the very beginning and did not stop
when the trial was over. Ramirez proposed to her and they got married in 1996 in San
To be with Richard, Doreen stated, she had to give up her family, home, friends,
and job because no one had understood this passion of hers. No one from her family
attended her wedding. There were only people from Ramirez's side. Shortly after the
wedding, she proclaimed for Los Angeles Times newspaper that her marriage is “the
perfect marriage”, as she believes she has found the nurturing side of herself because
Richard is the right person to receive her unconditional love and commitment
(Warrick). Whether she is still that happy as she was when she got married or not is
unknown, but she still is Mrs. Ramirez, as neither of them has asked for divorce yet.
Another admirer was Cynthia Haden, a juror. She fell in love with Ramirez
during the trial. At first she was just an alternate, and when the time came she was about
to replace one of the jurors who had been dismissed, she “walked to seat number 1, …
with a huge smile on her face [feeling] extremely happy” (Carlo 473). On Valentine's
Day, she even sent him a cupcake with a message “I love you” on it. After the trial she
was his frequent visitor, always apologizing for voting to sentence him to death. She
stated that the first day she got to meet him she felt truly alive for the first time in her
life. Contrary to Doreen, Cynthia had never believed he was innocent. She knew what
he was but also saw some goodness in him and even had her parents come to the prison
to meet him. Cynthia wanted to be able to touch him and hold him which is something
that is not allowed on death row because there are only cubicles with thick glass
between where no physical contact is possible. She left her job and applied for a new
one as a private detective at Richard's attorneys. Working for them, she had the
opportunity to meet him in one of the rooms allocated for lawyers who come to see
inmates. When she was left alone with Richard, she was kissing him while he was
groping her with his hands. She stated she nearly passed out how she was excited (Carlo
His crimes made Richard extremely popular, and for these women he had
become irresistible. He was probably more surprised than anyone else by all this
attention they were paying him because he had never had a true relationship and always
had to pay for sexual pleasure. There were women writing him and coming to see him
from all classes of society, in all shapes, sizes and nationalities, teenage girls as well as
women in their thirties and forties. Carlo managed to question many of them, trying to
find out what was behind the attraction they felt. Some of them knew their feelings were
crazy, yet could not help themselves. They were scared to talk about their inner
fantasies of being raped, knowing it is wrong to feel this way. Others found these
feelings perfectly natural. It did not matter if they came from a very good background
and had several college diplomas or were abused as children and worked as waitresses
at road restaurants.
Mike Rustigan, a criminology professor, says there are basically three
motivating factors for groupies of serial killers. “Some of these women believe it is
their mission to save these guys. Others are attracted by a fascination with the dark side.
They have an attraction to evil. Thirdly, and the most importantly, there is the fame
factor. Getting to know a [multiple] murderer is a status trip for some people” (“Night
Stalker“). In her book, Women Who Love Men Who Kill, Sheila Isenberg says these
women confuse fame and notoriety. “The reason they're so keen to latch onto these guys
is because we live in a celebrity obsessed culture. If they correspond with [normal
celebrities], the most they could hope for would be simply … a photograph with a
signature. If they correspond with Richard Ramirez … they may get gifts and marriage
proposals” (Glenn). A convicted killer may provide the women with attention and
seemingly safe relationship. It is up to woman when she decides to call or visit him, or
when it is the time to end the relationship. Normal men have jobs, their own interests,
and hobbies, but men in prison are completely focused on their “girlfriends” because
they have the time.
So meanwhile, Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, awaits his last day, he
still “reads his fan mail, enjoys all the photographs of naked women sent to him, and
dreams about being free so he can do all the grisly, ghastly things he did to get put on
death row in the first place” (Carlo 592).
To find Ramirez's address one does not have to go far to obtain it. It is sufficient
to type his name to some online browser, and the address will be freely available after
clicking on one of the first links. As he is a well known killer, his address is easily
obtainable thanks to many fans who have already written to him and want to share this
experience, and so called biographers who run the websites that are dedicated to his
crimes and him as a person.
Besides those who provide this information for free, there are also various
websites that specialize in collecting of serial killers' addresses and subsequently
providing them to their clients for money. These websites can be generally called
“Prison Pen Pals”, which purpose is to find the prisoners friends outside their high wall
homes. They run on the same base as dating agencies. If one is undecided who to write,
he or she fills out an application, and the agency finds him or her a perfect match among
the inmates who have agreed these organizations to provide their personal data. It is
totally up to their potential friend to choose if he or she prefers a Caucasian death row
inmate or a Hispanic low security level criminal. Once the match is arranged, the client
writes a letter to his or her preferable inmate and awaits the answer. It is advised to
enclose a writing paper, couple stamps, and an envelope to make sure the inmate has
everything that is needed for a quick answer.
As mentioned above, Richard's address is easy to be found even without paying
money to a special organization, which has made its living on this unusual business. As
he is still even 27 years after his arrest pretty busy with a lot of correspondence, it
usually takes him up to two months to answer his penfriends' letters. Unless one is rude
to him, he tries to answer every letter that is sent to him. In his responses, he writes
about usual things he does in the prison and never mentions those he used to do before
the arrest. He also asks questions on his penfriends' “family, average day, high school
life, best memories, favorite bands, likes, dislikes,” (Ramirez) etc. He is very much
interested in the pictures of those writing to him and in case they are women, he does
not hesitate to ask for naked pictures. One American art student, Samantha Spiegel, who
is known to be a devoted killer groupie and an advocate of those who have committed
the most disturbing crimes, has been questioned by many media channels about “her
twisted desire for the world's most hateful men” (“Killers”). On the question about
Ramirez's letters and her sending him her naked pictures, she answered that his replies
are sexually explicit, which, she admits, for some can be unsettling. However, she feels
writing to him (and others) has a purpose and considers it to be a safe relationship
because it is highly improbable for him to ever leave the prison.
According to San Quentin's Prison officials, Ramirez receives bags of letters
from admiring women a year. The letters include marriage proposals (although he has
already married one of his groupies) as well as love confessions and naked pictures.
Lieutenant of San Quentin, Sam Robinson, stated to San Francisco Chronicle in 2009
that their high notoriety inmates always get the most interest, Ramirez still being one of
the most sought-after (Tomik). The official website of San Quentin State Prison
provides the prison's inmates mailing address as well, and runs so called “inmate
locator” which is an online search application able to find every convicted prisoner in
California with information about his or her age, admission date, current location, and
CDCR—California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation—number that is
important for the mailing (“State of California”).
The worldwide release of the Internet in 1990s brought a new and much greater access
to information. As anyone is able to contribute and/or run their own website, it cannot
be of any surprise that the Internet is full of information about the serial killers that are
easily accessible by anyone who is at least a bit interested in finding them. It has been
already mentioned how easy it is to find killer's address by oneself, and that it is also
possible to have someone else to provide it whether for money or for free. Besides free
encyclopedias such as wikipedia, there are hundreds of websites containing pictures,
videos, interviews, and profiles. Those who run these websites may do it for various
reasons. Whether it is for educational purpose or for entertainment, they sure do the
same thing as other media technologies. They make the killers to be seen.
6.1. Crime Library and Murderpedia
Crime Library was the first true crime site on the Internet which aim was to
completely document lives, crimes, methods, and trials of the most well-known serial
killers of the world. It was founded in the late 1990s by Marilyn Bardsley, a bestselling
author of true crime literature, who later sold her website to Time Warner
Incorporation, a global leader in media and entertainment (“Marilyn Bardsley”). Crime
Library contains a vast collection of true stories, pictures of the killers and galleries
from the crime scenes, and articles written by prominent true crime literature writers
and scholars. There are new articles posted every day because the website functions as
an online newspaper. One of its best advantages is its sorting, as the killers are classed
by their similar features such as their killing preferences and areas of operation. Thanks
to the eminent contributors and the Time Warner Inc. behind it, this website is one of
the best ones that can be found on the killer market and it is expected to be the less
biased one in the amount of information about the serial killers that are offered on the
Murderpedia is a quite new website, gathering information about every
murderer, not just the serial one, that has ever appeared on this planet and is publicly
known. There are over six thousand killers to be found on this website, sorted by
country, name, and sex. The information is taken from various magazines and local
newspapers, and the website is very rich in pictures and details of every individual
crime case. The website was founded and is directed by an unknown criminologist, Juan
Ignacio Blanco (“Murderpedia, the Encyclopedia of Murderers”), and although it may
be considered to be a fanzine rather than a proper encyclopedia, it has a great potential
to be one day as good as Crime Library.
Both websites have given a vast space to the Ramirez case and as for the
Murderpedia, it provides many pictures of the crime evidence and pictures of Ramirez's
victims and their families that are not to be easily found elsewhere on the Internet. It has
an active message board where anyone can contribute their piece of information or
picture, as it is growing every day to become the hugest database in this field of study.
Crime Library on the other hand features also social media pages such as Facebook and
Twitter as well as message board below every article, where people can interact and
comment on the criminal cases. As for the comments considering Ramirez, the active
participants either pity him, saying that he should be locked and studied, as it is
important to do more research on criminal minds to prevent the killings in the future, or
want him to be executed as soon as possible (“The Los Angeles Trial”). They very often
attack each other, considering their own opinion to be the only right. The fact they do
interact in such conversation for whatever reason means they are interested in such
topic, and as one of the contributors said “people like all of you keep [his] memory
going on forever … Even when he is dead you will be talking about him” (“The Los
Angeles Trial”) which is exactly what these media want, for what then would be the
purpose of this publicity?
6.2. Fan Sites and Social Networks
“Welcome everyone. I made this website because I love Richard Ramirez. I am
a huge fan of his, and other serial killers too! I think Richard Ramirez is one of the best
killers … When he dies, I will die too” (“Richard Ramirez :: THE NIGHT
STALKER”). Although there are many fan sites written in a similar manner as is the
homepage of this particular one, the other websites are rather more sophisticated.
People running the fan sites usually summarize the killer's life and his crimes, drawing
mostly from the same sources such as Philip Carlo's biography and Crime Library site,
where in the latter the information has already been once summarized. They attach
some pictures taken from the same sources as they draw the information from, and the
results are fan pages that are one like another. A personal comment is very often
included as it is demonstrated couple lines above. These websites usually do not contain
any message boards, as it is highly probable that their authors would be assaulted for
their lack of intelligence as it sometimes happens on Facebook pages and Twitter
The motto of Facebook is that it helps one to connect and share with the people
in their life. As everyone is allowed to have their own personal page as well as to create
their own fan page or group dedicated to anyone who they wish to, there are dozens of
pages and open groups dedicated to Ramirez. People “liking” these pages and making
contributions to them, share their fondness for Ramirez and the experience they have in
writing him letters. The conversation these fans are involved in is usually not very
clever, as there are countless of comments containing praise of Ramirez's “deep eyes”
and statements how “handsome and brave serial killer” he is (“Richard Ramirez |
It is possible some of these contributors use fake profiles for their affectionate
comments, but more probable is they do not hide behind fake names and simply freely
express their personal feelings, no matter how misleading the feelings might be. These
comments are subsequently followed by hateful comments towards both Ramirez and
the author of the previous comment. The people contributing to these sites share the
same features as the ones who read the books and watch the movies, as they are either
full of attraction or full of condemnation towards the killers, yet the both groups do
have the interest because they have found the time to contribute to some Facebook
6.3. Murderabilia Industry
According to The Free Dictionary entry, the term murderabilia means “any
collectible (writings, art, exhibits used in court, weapons or other articles) directly
linked to murderers, murders or other violent crimes” (“Murderabilia”). As online
shopping is very popular way how to spend one's money, special online stores have
been founded that deal with selling things once owned or made by famous killers to
people who are willing to buy them. And that the items are not sold cheaply can be
demonstrated on two electronic commerce that are dominant on this murderabilia
market, Supernaught and Serial Killers Ink.
Supernaught has been “collecting crime memorabilia since 1991. Over the past
two decades, much time and work have gone into researching, locating, obtaining, and
bringing … the largest and most diverse collection of authentic true crime memorabilia.
All items offered are guaranteed authentic and as described”, as their website says. It is
possible to purchase drawings, shirts, letters and envelopes, even hair and furniture, all
for prices from $100 for an envelope with a handwritten letter, to $1,750 for a desk
lamp used by the killer in prison. As the items are usually addressed to someone, as in
case of letters, the website have been collecting them from fans and admirers who they
then share the profit with. In case of such a desk lamp, being sold for almost two
thousand dollars, there is a signature either of the killer himself or by a member of his
family. This one mentioned was hand signed by Doreen Ramirez, née Lioy, to provide
its authenticity (“Supernaught”). The furniture stuff is probably the most expensive that
can be bought at this website, followed by dirty clothing for a similar amount of money.
The letters and greeting cards are the most common, as they are not difficult to be
obtained since, as it has been already mentioned, Ramirez very much enjoys responding
to his fans. There might be thousands of his letters out there and some people just feel
the need to make some money on selling them to collectors or anyone who does not
have the courage to keep the correspondence with the killer by themselves.
Serial Killers Ink is, unlike Supernaught with a twenty-year tradition, rather a
newbie. Although they burst onto the scene in 2008, they claim themselves to be “the
leading and most popular true crime collectibles company worldwide … [they] have
been featured on such shows as National Geographic's TABOO TV series … as well as
interviewed and profiled by world class news networks such as CNN, FOX News,
ABC, The New York Times and Reuters to name just a few” (“Serial Killers Ink”). The
website offers a range of items made by serial killers themselves, including paintings,
drawings and other hand products. Their prices are cheaper than those at the
Supernaught, but Supernaught is clearly for more discerning consumers, as the Serial
Killers Ink does not sell any biomaterial such as hair, or furniture such as the desk lamp.
This collectible company rather gather the killers' hand products as well as products
made by “ordinary” people concerning the killers. Those products are, for example, TShirts, portraits, books, and music.
There is also a by this month—April 2013—released limited edition of a “fun
family-style” board game, called The Serial Killer Trivia Game, for maximum of five
players who can choose among five real-life serial killers playing pieces. Besides
Richard Ramirez, the player can play with cards of the killers such as Ted Bundy or
Charles Manson. The producers of the game, selling it via the Serial Killers Ink,
propagate their product with this advertisement: “Have you ever wanted to kill
someone? Now you can and be a winner! … The goal is to claim five victims before the
other serial killers in town beat you to the guts (and glory)! Break into houses and pick
a scenario card to reveal your murderous fate” (“The Serial Killer Trivia Game”). The
producers acknowledge the game is not for everyone and that it can outrage lots of
people. They recommend not to buy it or play it if one does not enjoy dark humor
because that is all what it is about. However, this subject also fascinates all kinds of
other people and for those this game might be of a great amusement.
There have been many attempts to shut this industry down because it is tactless
towards the crime victims and their families. Once it used to be an underground market
but it has come into mainstream America via the Internet. Some states, California and
Texas in particular, have already made it illegal for prisoners or dealers to make profit
from the sale of murderabilia. Others stay calm, stating it is business like any other. One
of the biggest collectors and dealers of murderabilia items stated for ABC News that “as
long as people are interested in it and there is somebody out there that wants to purchase
this stuff … [because] they get some kind of a thrill or a kick out of this, then I don't
really see a harm in that” (“Inside the Bizarre World of Murderabilia”).
In his book, David Schmid claims that this sale of murderabilia is just a small
part of the huge serial killer industry that has become a defining feature of American
popular culture in past decades. “A constant stream of movies, magazines, T-shirts,
trading cards, videos, DVDs, books, Web sites, television shows, and a tsunami of
ephemera have given the figure of the serial murderer an unparalleled degree of
visibility in the contemporary American public sphere” (1). This murderabilia industry
is just a complement of the whole phenomenon that is supported by mass media, and
every celebrity—considering the fact that serial killer, as proclaimed by media, truly is
a celebrity—needs some kind of advertisement and merchandise.
This thesis has focused on the celebrity status that mass media have been
creating around serial killers for decades. By presenting them in public, i.e. depicting
them in movies, books, and on the Internet, the celebrity culture around serial killers has
developed so far that one can now purchase hair and furniture of some killers, as if they
were some kind of religious icons. In a culture defined by celebrity, serial killers like
Bundy and Ramirez are instantly recognized by the vast majority of people not just in
America. Serial killers are hot topic for media which then present them to “ordinary”
people as something stunning and worth watching. Real killers are not enough for
media, as they even make new fictional characters such as Hannibal Lecter and Dexter
who then evoke a false supposition among people that the character of a serial killer is
actually a hero and/or at the same time a victim of this society and should get some
regard for it. No wonder the real killers have so many fans who are willing to spend
their time on writing them letters, visiting them, or even sending them money.
Of course not all the people feel them to be admirable. There are those who feel
repulsion and hatred, but the fact they feel something is an impulse for media to invest
their time and money on this particular genre because they know people will watch it
and will read about it. Media benefit from both admiration and repulsion because both
are proofs of interest in the topic.
The aim of this thesis has been to demonstrate what the celebrity status may look
like. Ramirez has been chosen because he is still alive and even after so many years in
prison still gets people's and media's attention. There are hundreds of serial killers in the
USA and whether they are already dead or alive, they still are being talked about
whether on the Internet or on television.
There will always be supporters and opponents of this serial killer phenomenon.
Instead of pronouncing the existence of this celebrity serial killer culture to be either
good or bad, there should rather be a neutral attitude, as it is something that is so deeply
rooted in the contemporary American society that it is highly improbable to be
diminished or even eliminated in the future.
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This thesis aims to demonstrate the celebrity status serial killers have in the
contemporary American society. Such status is caused primarily by the mass media
industries, such as books, newspapers, movies, and the Internet, and by the influence the
mass media have on their public audience. The first part of the thesis provides the
reasons why this is so, i.e. tabloidization and overemphasizing of violent crime in order
to have as scandalous news as it is possible, which often lead to nonobjective and biased
news coverage. Media intentionally provide every little detail of the serial killer's
personal story, following the rule of “more sensational the news is, more attention it
gets”. People are confronted with the media's keen interest in serial killers which they,
therefore, take for their own interest.
The second part of this thesis concentrate on Richard Ramirez's life before and
after his capture, and on the people, women in particular, who are attracted by him.
Such attraction is most probably caused by the attention the serial killer gets from the
mass media. By making him to be seen, he gains fame in which the people want to
The thesis further discuss how easy it is to obtain an address of a prison inmate,
how to contact him via letters, and how to communicate with him. Next chapter deals
with serial killers on the Internet, the interactive medium of mass media, i.e. the people
who run and contribute to the online serial killers' magazines and forums, and the
murderabilia industry that has expanded in the last two decades. This murderabilia
industry together with the Internet medium only deepen the celebrity status and
therefore the celebrity serial killer culture that the older types of mass media have
successfully established.
Cílem této práce je demonstrovat hvězdný status sériových vrahů v současné
americké společnosti. Příčinou tohoto hvězdného statusu je především vliv masových
médií na člověka prostřednictvím knih, novin, filmů a internetu. První část práce obecně
shrnuje důvody proč tomu tak je. Snahou napodobit bulvár a zveličit násilný zločin do
extrému za účelem poskytnutí co možná nejskandálnější zprávy, často dochází k
neobjektivnímu zpravodajství. Čím skandálnější zpráva je, tím více pozornosti se jí
dostane. Média se schválně zaměřují na všechny detaily ze života sériového vraha, které
s případem nemusí ani souviset. Lidé jsou tak konfrontováni intenzivním zájmem médií
o sériové vrahy, který následně přebírají za zájem svůj vlastní.
Druhá část práce se již soustředí na konkrétního sériového vraha Richarda
Ramireze, na jeho život před a po zatčení a na lidi, obzvláště ženy, jenž jsou jím
přitahováni. Tato přitažlivost je způsobena pravděpodobně právě tou pozorností, které
se mu v médiích dostává. Tím, že je vidět, získává slávu, na které se tito lidé chtějí
Práce dále ukazuje, jak jednoduché je získat korespondenční adresu vězně, jak
ho kontaktovat a jak s ním komunikovat. Další kapitola se soustředí na fenomén
sériových vrahů na internetu, především pak jejich fanoušků, kteří spravují nebo
přispívají do online časopisů a fór, které se k tématu sériových vrahů vážou. Zvláštní
pozornost je věnována murderabilii (tzn. trhu předmětů s vražednou tématikou), jenž se
ve světě za poslední dvě dékady pozoruhodně rozšířila. Trh s murderabilií společně s
internetem pouze prohlubuje hvězdný status a tím pádem celý tento kult celebrity, který
okolo sériových vrahů je a který starší typy masových médií tak úspěšně vybudovaly.