Brendan Dassey’s mom, Barb Tadych, holds up a quilt for the producers during the first episode of the second season of Netflix hit crime docu-series, “Making a Murderer.” The quilt’s patches are full of different photographs of Dassey, quotes, and “little sayings,” Tadych explains. A lady in Arizona made it for the convicted murderer.
She says her son gets anywhere from 30 to 100 letters a week, most of which show support for the man incarcerated as a teen, made infamous through the first season of the show.
Dassey tells his mom on the show, over the phone, that he has a big stack of letters.
“Yeah, the past couple of days I been getting 20 of them. Like, my stack is up to 38 now.”
Tadych tells him he better start writing back.
“Every time I try to catch up, I get another f----ing 20 of them. After a while, my hand starts to hurt.”
So is it normal for men in prison to recieve so much female attention? And why exactly does it happen?
Well, for starters, we know Steven Avery, the centerpiece of the show and another convicted murderer, appears to be even more popular than Dassey with the ladies while behind bars. In fact, he's gotten engaged twice while in custody.
The first, Sandra Greenman, got in touch with Avery after watching his trial. She was even featured in the first season of the show. The pair dated for years, but as Avery explained in season 2, they had religious differences, plus Greenman had health issues, and thus she ultimately ended up breaking off the engagement very publicly: on Dr. Phil's TV show.
“I had broken the engagement,” Greenman said on a 2016 episode of the talk show. “I hate to say this on air.”
Avery didn’t watch the episode, but he sure heard about it.
“She told the whole world,” Avery tells the “Making a Murderer” producers, adding that other inmates saw the episode and told him, “Looks like Sandy broke up with you.”
But, by the second episode of the new season, it’s revealed that Avery wasn’t single for long.
“But with Lynn it’s different,” he gushes. “Lynn is my new girlfriend.”
Lynn Hartman reached out to him after watching the first season of the show, she told "Inside Edition." The first season of the show, released in 2015, raised questions about the convictions of Avery and Dassey, who were both sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for the death of photographer Teresa Halbach in 2005. The documentary suggested that police might have planted evidence on Avery’s property, and that investigators took advantage of Dassey’s limited intellect in order to coax him into confessing. Avery previously served 18 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of the sexual assault and attempted murder of Penny Beerntsen before being fully exonerated in 2003 through DNA evidence. He filed a suit against the county two years before he was arrested as a suspect in the Halbach murder.
Hartman said the show made her feel like she knew Avery. She wrote to him and told him she had just gotten divorced.
“Then I wrote her back and made her feel better [about the divorce] and it’s been like that ever since,” Avery says during the second episode of “Making a Murderer.” “I got pictures of her on the wall. I had other women up there and I had to take the other women down because it didn’t feel right. She’s just stuck in me.”
But like Greenman, she eventually called off the engagement, and went on "Dr. Phil" to spill about Avery. She told Dr. Phil that she became scared of Avery. Avery explains that it felt like a setup and Greenman publicly accused Hartman of only dating Avery for fame.
“Steven Avery is a violent criminal who is right where he belongs,” she wrote in a statement obtained by Bustle. “I would like to add that I was fooled by MAM Season 1, like many others, and felt very sorry for Steven Avery and genuinely wanted to help him, and was at a vulnerable time in my own life, which I believe was the perfect scenario for Avery as he is a predator for vulnerable women.”
Predator or not, it’s very likely Avery will continue to receive letters from women.
“There's a long history of criminals in America receiving love letters and adoration from fans — past examples include Charles Manson, the Menendez brothers, Jodi Arias, and Casey Anthony,” Adam Lankford, a criminology professor at the University of Alabama told Oxygen.com. “But it's particularly concerning when male criminals receive this type of celebrity worship, because research suggests that males are particularly likely to engage in risky, aggressive, or violent behavior to get attention or become famous.”
He cites the fact that the Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza participated in online forums full of Columbine "fan girls.” "Lanza then wrote, ‘Just look at how many fans you can find for all different types of mass murderers’ before committing his own infamous attack,” Lankford explains.
Mass shooter Nikolas Cruz received hundreds of love letters, many from teen girls, after committing the school massacre in Parkland earlier this year. The messages came in greeting cards and in envelopes covered in hand-drawn hearts. Many featured cleavage shots and messages like, “Your eyes are beautiful and the freckles on your face make you so handsome.”
Jack Rosewood, author of “The Big Book of Serial Killers: 150 Serial Killer Files of the World's Worst Murderers,” tells Oxygen.com that he thinks that the “fan girl” attention the “Making a Murderer” men are receiving is a combo of the show's success mixed with the fact that “some women are attracted to ‘bad boys’ - guilty or not.”
The letters and adoration are likely not going away any time soon.
“Research suggests that fame-seeking desires, narcissistic tendencies, and celebrity worship have dramatically increased in America, and these are all psychologically unhealthy traits and behaviors,” Lankford tells Oxygen.com.
[Photo: Associated Press]
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