When you're making your checklist of what you look for in a man, remember to include "not on death row." You'd think murder would be a red flag, but there's a long history of women who seek out - and stand by - men charged with the most gruesome crimes.
On the 30th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon, Gloria Chapman still professes to be in love with her husband, Mark David Chapman, imprisoned for fatally shooting the Beatles front-man. The new documentary "Loosing Lennon: Countdown to Murder," exposes Gloria and Mark's 16-year tradition of conjugal visits that's still going strong.
If you've watched the Discovery ID docu-series "Prison Wives," or come across prison "pen pal" websites online, none of this should be a surprise. For notorious serial killers and current death row convicts, there's no shortage of female admirers.
But why would anyone support a man who's been convicted of violent crimes? Low self-esteem and so-called rescue fantasies may be one reason. Taking the impulse to nurture too far leads some women to want to help those men who seem the most dangerous. Others may do it for the attention they get from press or to dabble in fear without too much of a threat. Criminal psychologist Katherine Ramsland calls it the 'Beauty and the Beast Syndrome': "They like the idea of getting close to danger that will probably not hurt them, but there's always the slight chance." Whatever the reason, the outcome for devoted prison wives is never happily ever after. A common deal-breaker for many of these women isn't a crime confession or a physical threat: it's cheating.
1. Gloria Chapman, married to Mark David Chapman
Now 59 and living in Honolulu, Gloria married her husband two years before he murdered John Lennon. They met when she assisted him as a travel agent in planning a round-the-world-trip. They wed in 1979. In recent interviews, Gloria claims to have known about her husband's plan of attack and hoped to talk him out of it before he went through with it. Chapman himself blames his wife for not doing more to prevent the killings. But the pair seem to have worked out their differences. To this day, she flies back to his jail cell in upstate New York once a year for a 44-hour conjugal visit. Still hounded by press and angry fans each year on Lennon's death date, she allowed her photo to be taken two years ago outside her home, approaching a New York Daily News photographer saying: "I felt like God wanted me to come over and talk to you."
2. Carol Anne Boone, married to Ted Bundy
Despite brutally murdering well over 30 women and engaging in necrophilia with his victims, Bundy had a coterie of groupies during his trial. The most devoted was Boone, who moved from Washington to Florida to be near him during his criminal trial. She believed in his innocence, testifying as a character witness. They wed in court during his penalty phase when he realized an old state law allowed people to declare themselves married if they were standing before a judge. A few conjugal visits (or smuggled semen operations) later, they were pregnant and Mrs. Bundy bore his child who is allegedly now in her 20s and living under a pseudonym. Despite Bundy's subsequent confessions to his vicious killings, and her own likeness to the victims in appearance, Boone stood by her man for eight years. What may have ended their relationship was the fact that he continued to see other women while waiting for his dose of lethal injection on death row.
3. Sondra London, dated Keith Jesperson (the Happy Face Killer), Gerard Schaefer, engaged to Danny Rolling (the Gainesville Ripper)
London met her first convicted killer, Gerard Schaefer, before he confessed to over 80 murders. She stood by him on death row, helping him publish a collection of fiction. Then she met Keith Jesperson, famous for drawing smiley faces on letters to the media after strangling eight women. His final victim was his long-time girlfriend, but that didn't scare London, who kept in contact with Jesperson through letters he sent to her calling her "Squeaky" and outlining the crimes he committed. When she posted his letters on her website in 1996, their kinship ended with him accusing of her of using him as a meal ticket and other attacks that can't be posted here. Her biggest love behind bars was Danny Rolling, who claimed to be possessed when he murdered five college co-eds in Florida. After writing to London from jail, she helped him publish his description of the crimes. To profess his love, he serenaded her during his trial in court. They became engaged but were denied the right to wed by the state.
4. Doreen Lioy, married to Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker)
Guilty of 13 counts of murder, five attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults, and 14 burglaries, Ramirez terrorized southern California residents in the 80s. His public trial should have been somber but it ended up looking more like a rock star fan club. After flashing the pentagram to press in court, he became the object of desire for young women dabbling in satanic rituals. His admirers included the daughter of Anton LeVey and a juror on his case. "While some claimed to believe him innocent, others just thought he was cute or sexy," writes Ramsland. Freelance writer Lioy was among the former. After seeing his photo in the paper she wrote to him in jail and soon became his press advocate. Lioy sat in his trial ever day and visited him in prison, dismayed sometimes by the fact that she wasn't the only woman he allowed during visiting hours. But seven years after his 1989 conviction, the two got hitched. Without conjugal visits, she admitted she'd be a virgin for life. Today, Ramirez is still on death row and Lioy still believes he's innocent.
5. Sandi Blanton, married to death row inmates Chucky Mamou, Reginald Blanton
Blanton may be more notorious than her husband on death row. She is one of 100 British women in a long-term relationship with a U.S. death row inmate. She began writing to prisoners awaiting execution after she heard about a relative who was saved from capital punishment in England in the 30s. Two years ago, she met Mamou (at left) and after just two visits, they tied the knot in Texas. Though Mamou was charged with the abduction, rape, and murder of a teenager, Blanton believed in his innocence and cherished their bizarre dynamic: "It just goes by the heart. There is a very strong bond that you wouldn't normally have out in the free world." For their wedding, she had a stand-in groom - Mamou's dad. But after six weeks she found out he was "pen-pal" cheating on her - writing sexually explicit letters to other women. Undeterred, she began a relationship with another inmate, 28-year-old Reginald Blanton, convicted of murdering his friend in 2000. They got his-and-her tattoos and she took on his last name, despite still being married. Before her divorce to Mamou went through, Reginald was put to death. She still keeps his name and continues to speak out about his innocence.