In Love with a Serial Killer? It’s Possible


illustrations by Kelsey Skordal,

So apparently people actually have crushes on serial killers and have fantasies about them. How odd, how odd indeed. Let’s have a closer look about this, shall we? 

We all know Jeffrey Dahmer, who was  the Milwaukee killer. Dahmer was known for being a serial killer, sex offender and cannibal who murdered and consumed the bodies of 17 boys and men during 1978-1991.

1982 Milwaukee County Mugshot of Dahmer, Associated Press

According to dmtalkies, “Jeff makes it clear that he felt a compulsion during the murders—not that he wanted to kill them—but to keep them forever. He even made it clear that he did not commit these attacks out of anger or hatred toward any race.” So, maybe people like the fact that he isn’t racist? However, there’s no way of knowing. A man who kills and eats people, and cuddles with dead bodies is considered attractive? Though, going back to, he was quite the charmer. “He often camouflages his ghastly intentions with an innocent smile.” 

In these terms, it really meant that everyone he met thought he was a drunk guy looking for a boyfriend, which he was. The reason he never had a full term relationship was because he had a personality disorder that provided discomfort with close relationships.

His charm and looks were all he had for his victims. Otherwise, he was just a shell of a neglected boy with an alcohol addiction. He shouldn’t even have had the chance to be in love, and the men who fell for him had fallen for a mistake.    

Ramirez in Court, Steve Helling

Richard Ramirez, known as The Night Stalker, Valley Intruder, and Walk-In Killer, killed more than 15 people in their homes between 1984-1985. This man was already considered attractive in his time by many. Though, that’s no excuse to fall for a man that murders you in your sleep. reported “Ramirez reportedly sustained multiple head injuries at an early age; after he was knocked unconscious by a swing at age 5, he began experiencing epileptic fits.” That could explain where his psychotic nature could have begun to grow.

Having an underdeveloped brain can cause different nerves to make people vulnerable to their mental health, along with physical, social, and emotional charges. 

Finally, one of the older, but still well known, killers is Jack the Ripper. This famous Brit was known as Leather Apron, and The Whitechapel Murderer.

Aaron Kominski, a possible suspect of being Jack the Ripper, credit to Glen Minikin

His true identification was unknown, though forensics identified  him as 23 year old Aaron Kosminski, a barber from Poland, but this has not been  officially confirmed, though it could be quite possible. According to, “This man became insane owing to many years indulgence in solitary vices. He had a great hatred of women, especially of the prostitute class, and had strong homicidal tendencies; he was removed to a lunatic asylum about March 1889…”

Kominski was most likely Ripper, considering he was known for killing prostitutes  in alleys, taking out their organs, and stealing away their uterus’. It couldn’t be possible for anyone to find that attractive. Ripper was one of the only ones who got away. Mysterious indeed.

See? How can anyone be attracted to those who murder, cannibalize, and destroy their reputation for  personal issues. Most of these beings had mental issues, Dahmer diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and a psychotic disorder; Ramirez suffered with B-Cell Lymphoma, which led to depression and anxiety. Ripper just had a tendency to kill for no reason, just like many other well known serial killers.

The conclusion is simple: some people have paraphilia called Hybristophilia, which causes a person to “get sexually aroused over someone else committing an offensive or violent act,” Professor of forensic psychology Catherine Ramsland, PhD, told Cosmopolitan. Paraphilia is a recurring of events of sexual arousing mental images that causes one to act in unusual and in socially unaccepting practices.

More common philias Pedophilia (Sexual attraction toward children), Necrophilia (Having sexual intercourse or attraction to corpses), and Objectophilia (Sexual or romantic attraction to inanimate objects). From, they are specified as “Other Specified Paraphilic Disorders—which encompasses behaviors not covered by the already named diagnoses.”

So, how can that lead back to serial killers and romance? Simply, nobody knows but Hybristophilia is most likely one of the causes. Though, the problem isn’t that common. Louis B. Schlesinger, PhD, a forensics psychology professor at John Jay College, tells Cosmopolitan, “ There are case reports of these individuals, there’s discussion of them, but really no empirical research from a scientific perspective.” The cases usually report women being attracted to male criminals and vice versa on men who are attracted to criminalistic women, such as Aileen Wuornos, who shot, killed and robbed 7 men in the years of 1989-1990. 

However, Sheila Isenberg, journalist and author of Women Who Love Men Who Kill, goes back to an older case of not a woman serial killer, but a woman knowing a serial killer and falling for him. Her name is Veronica Compton. She was in a blooming relationship with one of the Hillside Stranglers, who were both convicted of strangling their parents. This man’s name was Kenneth Bianchi.

Compton tried committing the same crime her crush did, by attempting a “Copycat Murder” to make him fall in love with her. Compton and Bianchi didn’t not marry nor date in prison. With all her hard work failing, Compton went to jail. While in prison, she fell in love and married a professor, then had a child with him. 

This woman did it for love, but became the criminal instead. People fall in love in mysterious ways, but not everything had gone according to plan. You must be wondering, Why does it happen? Well, Ramsland explained to Cosmopolitan, “They also get a sense that they’re special to the person, so that if the person escaped he or she wouldn’t harm…so there’s a bit of narcissism in it as well. But primarily the idea is that they want to get close to a violent person so that they can either participate in a fantasy life that involves them or actually become partners with them.” In short terms, it’s a dream of meeting and becoming partners with a criminal, being oblivious to the fact that they don’t feel the same way, and you will most likely become their next victim. 

Isenberg’s theory is she agrees that are involved with criminals enjoy the notoriety (Being known for some bad deed or quality), but she believes it has nothing to do with anything sexually. She says it is more likely that women would like to be noticed or be famous. While interviewing about three dozen women for her book, all of them claimed to be abused or suffered from some kind of abuse in their lives. Isenburg tells the women, “I know it sounds weird and counterintuitive, but a man behind bars can’t hurt you, so he’s safe.” as if the women were worried about the criminals.

Do you have Hybristophilia? If you aren’t sexually or physically aroused of seeing a crime being committed, it is highly doubted that you do not have it. Ramsland contrasts, “The difference between somebody who’s just watching every one of these shows that comes out and somebody’s who is completely addicted to it is obsession.” If you can get up and completely ignore the fact that you just saw a felony being committed, then you’re safe from it. But if you make this your whole life, revolving over one character in a television show, playing a serial killer, then you’re in an obsessive mode. Like how Evan Peters played Jeffrey Dahmer and Zac Efron played Ted Bundy, it’s a-okay to think the actor is attractive but hopefully, the role they play isn’t appealing to you. Then again, it’s not anything sexual until it is, that’s when you know you have a certain paraphilia.

Now, if you’re wondering if Zac Efron is anything like Ted Bundy, Ramsland says, “He’s so not Ted Bundy.” So, High School Musical lovers, Troy Bolton will be on the basketball court, not in the supreme court!