Menagerie FeatureOf felons and followers: The fascination behind serial killers
Of felons and followers: The fascination behind serial killers

A few taps at the keyboard here, several mouse clicks there and many search results later, a list of Facebook fan groups light up the screen. While these groups may seem like any other dedicated to public figures, one spine-chilling detail makes them stand out: The macabre dedication to serial killers. It is interesting, to say the least, that there are those among us who are fascinated with the men and women who have committed murder and several inhumane acts.

To help in putting an end to the general public’s increasing prejudice against them and perhaps peek into their world, The LaSallian sought the opportunity to interview the members of these groups to give them a chance to tell their side of the story, and to hopefully provide a different perspective to the way people look at the individuals they have devoted their time to. The new insights?  Killer.

 

 

A number of fans

As its name suggests, The Many Faces of Ted Bundy is a group dedicated to the man who raped, murdered, and satiated on his necrophilia on a number of innocent victims, all of whom were women. The posts in the group include anything Ted Bundy related – from old photos of the serial killer himself to photos of his victims and crime scenes to posts of admiration for the man’s skill and charming good looks, to even memes. With the page describing itself as a group completely open to any posts or queries related to the notorious serial killer, it advises that if one is sensitive or overly religious, then it is probably not the group for them. With 507 members in their roster, however, it is evident that despite his crimes, Bundy’s still got a lot of his charms.

While it may seem unusual to have a group dedicated to a man who killed dozens, it’s not as uncommon as we may think. Facebook searches produce results showing that Ted Bundy isn’t the only serial killer with a cult-like following.  From “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez to “Milwaukee Cannibal” Jeffrey Dahmer, the list goes on and on, and it’s not just on Facebook. On Twitter, accounts like @DailyKillerFact, @MurderFactLife and @TrueCrimePolls are just a few of the accounts that are regularly updated with facts, tidbits, and photos of serial killers – two of which have amassed thousands of followers. The great prevalence of communities dedicated to these dangerous criminals on the internet then begs the question: What is it about serial killers that appeals to so many?

 

A newfound interest

Tracing back his initial discovery of the very man he created the fan group Inside Ted Bundy for, Kline* recalls his childhood memories. Having a completely opposite intention in mind, Kline’s father had let them read the book The Deliberate Stranger by Seattle Times reporter Richard W. Larsen as a way to increase their awareness to real danger; amusingly, only to have his child become fixated by the aforementioned serial killer himself. Kline expressed his initial fright, utter horror even. What else was there to feel when coming across serial killers? Kline says it himself, “I believe he was true evil personified.”

With Kline coming across Bundy through the written word, Kathy discovered Jeffrey Dahmer — a man known to kidnap young men, murder them and then have sex with their corpses — on none other but video-sharing website YouTube. Watching random documentaries and eventually stumbling across a video on Dahmer, Kathy shares that she was, “really disgusted but intrigued at the same time because it was the most shocking thing I would have never thought a person would be capable of doing.” When asked on why she still continued to watch such videos despite her initial aversion, Kathy simply stated that she was intrigued by how serial killers’ minds work and how their background and circumstances led up to them committing their crimes.

While most of the insights gathered so far were focused on only one person, Alex differs otherwise, seemingly more engrossed with fiction rather than fact., “The characters I watch are compelling because of the decisions they make as those type of people. The ones that stand out the most to me is Dexter from the show Dexter. I like Norman Bates from Psycho, just because it’s an Alfred Hitchcock film and he’s so iconic. And recently, I like the Ed Kemper from David Fincher’s Netflix series, Mindhunter.”

Moreover, Alex explains that upon watching crime-centric shows, she tends to, “focus more on the character of the serial killer more than the actual ‘act’,” clarifying that they have proven to be quite the character study. “It’s interesting to find out (especially if the killer is based in reality) how these people think and learn their own twisted justifications for their actions.”

We ask them the question that everyone wonders: Do these fans necessarily like, or glorify, the violence and harm that these people have caused? “Absolutely not!  I have yet to come across anyone who enjoys the violence or brutality,” Kline exclaims. Although a considerable amount of fans do admit to having a sexual attraction to their respective killers, Kline justifies that it is never necessarily the whole population.

 

Eye of the criminal

Perhaps it is the way that these killers strayed from what was considered normal and humane. It is never fully admiring the act itself of murder or likewise heinous crimes that make the following fans exist as they are.

Kline says, “I am fascinated with Ted Bundy. I think he was a monster and I would never want to glorify him or his crimes. I find him fascinating because he was so intelligent. He was so handsome. He was charming. He worked at a suicide hotline saving people from killing themselves. He was involved in politics – attended the Republican National Convention. He had a serious relationship for seven years – during his murder years.  What happened?”

Taking a step back, it is evident that these “fans” are not the utterly absurd or delusional bunch that others make them out to be, and are not the slightest bit similar to the unlikely figures that have captivated their attention. As is prevalent in modern society, their unusual interest was simply misunderstood and shunned for not being part of the norm. It is not the murders, atrocities, or inhumane acts themselves that have gotten Kline, Kathy, and Alex fascinated with the world of serial killers — it is simply the inner workings of the criminal mind that piqued their interest.

Kline states, “I think society has every right to feel the way they do about the fan groups or the killers. I would not consider myself a fan of Ted Bundy. I am horrified at what he did. He was a brutal murderer. I am interested in the psychopathy of Ted Bundy. I am forever searching for what happened to him that created that monster.”

Humans will always be inevitably curious creatures, examining and scrutinizing the nearest unfamiliar object. Serial killers just so happen to be the very fuel that our curious minds have been looking for. Whatever heavy stigma society decides to place on the shoulders of these fans, it will not stop the keen curiosity and attention they have harnessed for these serial killers, and all their questions left unanswered.

 

*Names with asterisk (*) are pseudonyms