Prison Trend Story: ‘Women Who Love Men Who Kill’


In a New York Times commentary, writer Daphne Merkin considers the trend of women falling in love with imprisoned criminals with violent histories, including Jennifer Hyatte, the mother of three who helped her new husband break out of a Tennessee prison. Merkin writes, “Whatever the reasons behind Mrs. Hyatte’s perplexing behavior — a rescue fantasy, a need to nurture, the sexual excitement of being with a violent person (also known as hybristophilia), a wish for attention, a sense of low self-esteem, a grandiose us-against-them scheme — she is far from alone in her seemingly lunatic infatuation with a man behind bars.”

“Indeed, she is part of what has been recognized as a growing phenomemon, one common enough to have spawned Web sites like and as well as psychological studies with titles like ”Women Who Love Men Who Kill.” This is the phenomenon of women who are attracted to the scent of demonic males — fatally dangerous guys like Erik and Lyle Menendez, Robert Chambers and Scott Peterson. (Both Menendez brothers married in prison; Chambers was reportedly so besieged by transfixed females vying to smuggle him contraband that he had to be transferred to another jail; and Peterson has received at least two marriage proposals).”


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