With the implementation of social media, and the intimacy we have into strangers’ lives, parasocial relationships have become common in today’s world. Everywhere you see articles and blogs about celebrities. Posts that ask what relationships they’re in, what they do on a day to day basis, asking intimate questions you wouldn’t normally ask a stranger. And it is no surprise that these parasocial relationships, relationships where people believe they have a form of connection to a celebrity or internet personality, can extend to criminals.
The most famous example was the craze that surrounded famous serial killer Ted Bundy. With his trials and story being reported on nearly every news station and newspaper, flocks of women fell in love. Sending him love letters, gifts and attending his trials like they were a concert, he became a sensation for his looks despite the horrific crimes he had committed. But because of the amount of reporting, those women fell in love and believed that they had a chance with the dashing murder-rapist.
More recently, in 2021 a young man by the name of Cameron Herrin killed a mother and her daughter while racing in south Florida. His car was reported to have been going at 102 MPH and killed the pair instantly. However, when photos of Herrin released he gained a massive cult following, not dissimilar to Ted Bundy. Thousands of women on both TikTok and Twitter were coming to the young man’s defense solely for his attractiveness. They believed that because he was “too cute” that he should not be given a harsh jail sentence, even though he murdered a mother and daughter with his vehicle.
The phenomenon of people being attracted to criminals, no matter how obscene or disgusting the crime, is a mystery. With countless examples other than Bundy and Herrin, it is interesting to see the development of parasocial relationships and how “fans” of the killers have more access into their lives than previously. Possibly causing their perceived relationships with the criminals to deepen even further, creating an imaginary sense of connection that bonds the viewer with the killer.