Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Lynne S. McNeill

Abstract

During Ted Bundy’s 1979 murder trial in Miami, Florida, a “steady and unusual string of spectators” filled the courtroom and lined up outside (“Ted Bundy Groupies” 1979). News reels from the trial show that these spectators were young women around same age as the two sorority sisters Bundy was accused of murdering the year before. Though some of the women admitted to being afraid or unnerved by Bundy, they also admitted that they were fascinated by him, even if they were unsure as to why. Similar cases of attraction to the spectacle surrounding serial and mass murderers shroud killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, Dennis Rader, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, H. H. Holmes and many others throughout the centuries (Schmid 2005; Levin and Fox 1985; P. Jenkins 1994).

This same pattern of fascination—from both male and female spectators— continues in more recent trials for mass killers such as TJ Lane, Dylann Roof, James E. Holmes, and others.2 As unlikely as it may seem, “crime is no longer a bar to celebrity; indeed, it is as close to a guarantee of celebrity as on can find” (Schmid 2005, 10). Their infamous killings are followed by groups of people fascinated with these criminals, victims, and court cases—many times long after the criminal has been imprisoned or is deceased. Those who choose to follow the cases surrounding these murders are often labeled as serial killer or mass murder “fans.”

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