To Love, Honor, and Perish
by Janice Erlbaum
She confessed as much, while drunk, to an acquaintance of hers in New Mexico, saying she'd participated in sex crimes with boyfriend David Parker Ray "for the adrenaline rush." Two women from neighboring towns, survivors of separate attacks by the couple earlier this year, indicated that Hendy helped lure them to the couple's double-wide trailer home, then joined Ray in their specially-outfitted torture chamber for days of electrocution, bondage and sexual abuse. Both women barely managed to escape; both were naked, bloody and partially chained when they fled to safety. They still fared better than previous victims. At least they lived to tell their tales.
Cindy Lea Hendy's participation in the crimes against these women isn't very surprising. Neither is her claim that she was, herself, Ray's victim. Nor will it shock anyone when she chooses to plead guilty in exchange for cooperating in the case against her ex-boyfriend. To some, this story might seem sensational—a female accomplice to rape and torture? In truth, it is not that uncommon. Actually, this kind of thing happens all the time.
They call it "Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome," or, more properly, hybristophilia, from the Greek root hybridzein, to commit an outrageous offense. Defined by sexologist Dr. John Money as "being sexuoerotically turned on only by a partner who has a predatory history of outrages perpetrated on others," this syndrome ranges from mild to deadly. It may manifest itself merely as an attraction to sneering pop stars. Or, for women like Cindy Lea, it may result in an irresistible compulsion to seek out and partner with heinous sexual sadists in crimes against other women.
Charlene and Gerald Gallego, aka the Sex Slave Murderers: 10 people molested, beaten and killed. Judith and Alvin Neelley, aka Lady Sundance and Night Rider: 15 molested and dead, all young women. Carol Bundy and Douglas Clark, aka the Sunset Slayer: at least six victims, maybe 50. Killer couples are notoriously brutal, feeding off each other as their acts of violence get bloodier and more brazen. When they are eventually busted, the symbiotic connection between them is suddenly lost. The reality of incarceration tends to cause these women to remember that they were forced to comply with their sadistic partners; that they had no choice.
Of course, some hybristophiliacs really are victims. Many come from abusive backgrounds, some continue to suffer at their partners' hands, and a few wind up dead when their partners run out of handy objects for their rage. The accomplice-as-victim theory is reinforced by some of the scant literature on the topic; for instance, an FBI survey characterized the girlfriends of criminal sadists as "sexually naive," coerced into becoming "compliant victims" by their dominant lovers. Rejected is any suggestion that a woman could willingly aid in, or even instigate, sadistic attacks. In court, many hybristophiliacs co-opt the "weak, passive woman" stereotype to use in their defense, claiming battered spouse or Stockholm syndrome to explain their collusion. Again, in certain cases, this may be the truth.
But some of these women are not victims and never claimed to be. Debra Brown, who in 1984 helped Alton Coleman rape and strangle women and girls as young as age seven, said of one of the dead, "I killed the bitch and I don't give a damn. I had fun out of it." Myra Hindley, molester/killer of at least five teens with her partner Ian Brady, was appalled when police arrested Brady and left her behind. "Wherever he has been," Hindley told detectives proudly, "I have been." Some of these women, it would seem, enjoy taking part in brutal sex crime—some, as we will see, even mastermind the plans and coax their men into following.
Unimaginable? It shouldn't be. Pundits from all positions in the gender debate are finally waking up to the harsh truth: Women can feel violent angry lust. Broken homes or chromosomes can make the sadistic predilection stronger. Whether vicariously or hands-on, some women want to feel the power of inflicting suffering, the orgasmic release of their vengeful fury, the messianic command over a helpless human being. Like many women, hybristophiliacs crave control and dominance as much as men. Like most women, they're not accustomed to getting it.
So they sublimate their violent appetites, to whatever extent that's necessary. They may idolize whichever roughneck cretin is currently terrorizing the town on their favorite soap. Or they might write fan letters to convicts, professing their admiration and support. Maybe they found a passive guy to carry out their vicious self-hating desires by proxy. Their compulsive attraction to criminals varies in disposition and degree. The results of these attractions vary as well.
Here, then, are some sub-categories of the hybristophiliac syndrome, arranged in order from least heinous to most, with illustrative case studies for each: A collection of cautionary tales for killer-lovers, and for those who cross their paths.
Janice Hooker helped keep a woman captive in a box under her bed
The sexy bad boy is a staple American icon. He embodies machismo, individualism and all the other bloody, potent ideals of the U.S. The dangerous anti-social type has been hugely popular with young ladies since the days of Dean and Brando, and the trend in music and film toward eroticizing crime continues to escalate exponentially. In sum: It's, like, the media.
And the media doesn't just reward celebrity impersonations of criminals. The media will be happy to reverse the formula and bring you actual criminals, celebritized for your vicarious pleasure. Robert Chambers, the "preppy murderer" jailed for the 1986 murder of teenager Jennifer Levin, received volumes of fan mail in prison from women starstruck by his good looks and lack of remorse. Of course, they might have confused him with actor Billy Baldwin, who portrayed Chambers in a 1989 movie about the case.
Even criminals who aren't celebrities may fare well with the ladies. An awful lot of personal ads in supermarket tabloids contain the phrase "correctional institution inmate" (usually followed by "seeks understanding woman"). These ads get a surprisingly robust response. Women can be drawn to these pseudo-relationships with prisoners out of curiosity, sympathy, desperate loneliness and/or fear of rejection. They may lack basic social skills and intimate friends, or long for a classic co-dependent redemption script. The relationships may provide them with a reassuring sense of stability. One thing about a man in prison, he's not leaving town any time soon.
These women—from chicks who thought killer Ted Bundy was cute, to chicks who wrote Tommy Lee letters in jail—are merely entry-level wannabes in the world of convict groupies. Very few attain the status of, say, Doreen Lioy. Lioy, a 41 year old magazine editor with a reputed IQ of 152, married notorious rapist/killer Richard "Night Stalker" Ramirez, in a ceremony on San Quentin's death row. She was first attracted to Ramirez when she saw his picture in the newspaper, and wrote to him regularly for months before they were able to meet. They were finally wed in 1996, after almost 15 years of courtship. With no chance of conjugal visits for the lifer and his wifer, we can only speculate as to the nature of the unique bond they share.
For teenaged girls, the appeal of the "bad boy" is often twice as strong. When adolescent rebellion mixes with the first flushes of hormonal attraction, the chemistry can become explosive. This is especially true when the young lady in question has parents who object to her new swain. Her romance, once forbidden, becomes even more attractive than before, and woe to the parents who get in their way.
Young lovers Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate epitomized the teen couple on a killing spree—their true story provided the foundation for movies like Badlands, Natural Born Killers and Wild at Heart. In 1958, 14 year old Fugate's family forbade her to marry 19 year old Starkweather, a bowlegged, ne'er-do-well punk with a history of violent assault. So her mother, stepfather and infant sister were all summarily murdered as the couple kicked off an infamous eight-day killing spree.
Though Caril Ann aided and abetted Starkweather, collecting newspaper clippings of their adventures as they ran from police and racked up bodies, she later claimed to have been forced against her will to stay with him. She witnessed her family's death, then stayed in the house with Starkweather for five days afterwards, screwing and playing house while keeping relatives at bay. She guarded some of their captives while he napped, and she held a loaded gun on others, but she swore that she was a hostage and not an accomplice. The courts didn't buy it, sentencing her to a hefty term behind bars, and even Starkweather, on his way to the electric chair, testified to her powers. Caril was "something worth killing for," he said before his death. "She put the spark and thrill into the killing."
Even more precocious than Caril Ann Fugate was Wendy Gardner, 13, subject of the book Kill Grandma for Me. This, apparently, was the sentiment she conveyed to her 15 year old boyfriend, James Evans, when her grandmother wouldn't let her stay over at his place on Christmas 1994. She stayed with him anyway, and they plotted the hypothetical crime between bouts of sex. They compared the merits of shooting, stabbing and strangling the elderly woman, they discussed the handling and disposal of the body, and even Wendy's 11 year old sister was accounted for in the plan: "When we tie her up you can fuck her instead of me 'cause I'm sick of you doing it to me all the time," Wendy allegedly said.
There's no doubt that James had a history of aggressive behavior, even an apocryphal reputation as a cat killer, though he impresses the reader mostly as a dopey kid, just trying to keep from getting hurt by lashing out. Wendy, meanwhile, was an above-average student, who recorded advanced sexual and violent urges in her diary. She was the brains of the operation, but he was the hands—the hands that strangled Betty Gardner to her death.
Rapist/killer Paul Bernardo, aka rapper White Hype
In an eerie parallel to the Fugate family killings, the young lovers spent the days after the murder at the scene of the crime, Wendy's home. They napped, had sex, went bowling, gorged on junk food, bought matching Reeboks and played video games; meanwhile Granny cooled it in the trunk of the car. They were still discussing the issue of what to do with 11 year old Kathy, who was unharmed throughout the ordeal, when the girl escaped and alerted the cops.
At her trial, Wendy claimed that she did not order her grandmother's murder, and that she was powerless to stop the killing because she was scared of what James might do to her and her sister. She carried a teddy bear to court, and wore a ankle-length flowered dress to take the stand in her own defense. But the taped confession she'd originally given cops was too damning. Her voice cold, the jurors heard her admit:
I got up and talked to James some more and I said, "I want to kill her so bad." She was making me so angry and then James, "She's making me angry and then James goes, "She's making me angry, too' ...I said, "I just want to kill her." And then [James said] "If I kill her will you love me?"
Both teens were found guilty of murder in the second degree. Wendy will be eligible for parole when she's 21. James Evans, the loaded weapon that she aimed and fired, may serve a sentence as long as life.
If hybristophiliacs are "made, not born," some of them are sure made young. Some young female offenders are legitimately desperate for a knight in shining armor to rescue them from an unhappy situation. Others make sure to get a knight with a big lance, one he's not afraid to use, to bring her not just rescue but bloody revenge. If a girl has suffered abuse in the home since childhood, she's usually been waiting for the onset of puberty to bring her new powers and better options. Now she can seduce someone, find love, and marry out of the family. Together they might even fire a parting shot.
For very angry girls like Wendy Gardner, romance and violence, lust and rage, are inextricably linked from the very onset of their sexual awareness. Other girls, already free of their families, take a few more years to find that abominable crimes are a turn-on. For example, Judith Neelley was an experienced 19 years of age when she and husband Alvin molested and killed one of their first victims, a 13 year old girl.
Another teenager, Janice M., was 15 years old when she met her husband-to-be, Cameron Hooker. It's doubtful that the shy girl with mild epilepsy was looking for a sadist to love, but if she had been, she couldn't have done any better than Cameron. Charming on the surface, Hooker was a dyed-in-the-wool sick fuck, who subjected his young girlfriend (by now his wife) to hanging, whipping, choking, beating, sensory deprivation and death threats, telling her all the time that this was normal. His sexual experiments grew more frightening and bizarre, and after years of suffering his brutal scenes, Janice agreed to help him find another victim, on two conditions: Cameron had to swear to abstain from intercourse with the other woman, to preserve their sacred union. And he had to let Jan's body heal, so that she could have their baby.
Approximately two years after their wedding, when Jan was 19 and Cameron was 24, they picked up a 20 year old hitchhiker named Colleen Stan, kidnapped her, and kept her as a captive in their home for the next seven years. Stan spent the majority of those years in a series of coffin-like boxes; when she was out of her box, it was to serve as sex slave, domestic help or piece-working wage earner. She spent her first eight months with the couple locked in a box in their basement, taken out only for rapes and beatings, before Cameron made Stan sign a contract of servitude with him on behalf of "The Company."
"The Company" was a fiction he'd stolen from a porn mag—a ring of rich, omnipotent sex slave traders who kidnapped women and then sold them on the black market. They were everywhere, he told her, so it was no use trying to escape, as her family would be killed immediately if she made any trouble. Jan, a whipped and contorted wretch, was a purported example of a girl who'd run off and been found, her knees and hips supposedly mangled by Company agents. Colleen, the disoriented captive, had suffered complete sensory deprivation and intense bondage for months, had heard no explanation for the unbelievable position she was in, and was completely demoralized and broken. She signed the contract and accepted it as her fate.
Colleen and Jan were both continually beaten and abused by Hooker, but Jan remained faithful to the story that kept her rival in bondage. Cameron continued to brutally sodomize, shock, whip, hang and suffocate Colleen, spinning more elaborate tales of The Company. Meanwhile, Jan had two daughters, both of whom became devoted to the nanny they called "K." Neighbors saw this "nanny" with the family, but no one had any idea that the girl was chained to the bathroom pipes for hours, and forced to wear a tight wooden trap over her head as she slept in a box. Janice said nothing to anyone, until she saw Cameron and Colleen getting too close.
It had taken years for Jan to talk to Colleen, and when they first communicated, it was so bitter and contentious that Cameron joked about having them both "taken care of," just to stop the bickering. But the women became closer, "K" was given more freedom, and as the years passed the women settled into a strange polygamous arrangement. Finally, an angry and fearful Jan admitted the truth to Colleen—she was free to go, there was no "Company," the seven years of servitude were over. Jan could no longer deny that she was a participant, that she could have set Colleen free at any time and had not. Colleen left the couple, absolutely bewildered, but stayed close to them both for a while before telling her story to police.
Karla Homolka, the blood thirsty Barbie
Janice received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony against Cameron, though it's clear that Colleen Stan's captivity and torture could not have taken place without her help. It is also apparent that she did not confess to Stan out of human kindness, but out of fear that she would sleep with her husband and bear him a child. The once-cowed hausfrau has since divorced, received counseling, and turned her life around. "I chose not to be a victim," Janice told a journalist. "I hope Colleen makes that choice. Not to just walk out, but to make a total change, to become an unvictim, to take charge."
Can victims be victimizers at the same time? We define victims as those who are powerless, theoretically lacking the power to hurt. Yet every day, we're faced with proof that oppressed people are not innately more ethical than their oppressors, that they are, in fact, apt to take out their frustrations on similarly oppressed people. Janice may have wanted Colleen to suffer her husband's abuse, not only to spare herself the pain, but also to punish someone for what she'd been through. Perhaps she wished to punish herself by proxy. Or whatever—her wishes seem pretty unimportant when stacked against the wishes she denied Colleen Stan.
Traditional feminist rhetoric tends to exonerate women for their weaknesses, no matter how ghastly the results of their "passive" moral disability may be. Janice Hooker was, by all accounts, terrorized and brainwashed by an exceptionally skilled sadist. She was also passionately jealous of him, determined to have a family with him, and bitterly resentful of the woman chained in a box under their bed. She was a participant in the scene, until she chose not to be a victim. And so, it seems, she did have a choice after all.
The happy couple just weeks after the rape and killing of Karla's younger sister
In the case of Janice and Cameron Hooker, there is every reason to believe that it was Cameron who set their pathology in motion. He had been cultivating his extreme fantasies since boyhood, he'd even experimented by abusing an earlier girlfriend, whereas Jan, if left to her own devices, most probably would not have enslaved another person for the fun of it. It was mostly bad luck on her part, to have been lured into a folie a deux with this particularly demented sadist. Women like Myra Hindley, on the other hand, are looking for just that type of partner, someone cunning and ruthless with whom to swap delusions of grandeur.
An undergraduate grasp of Nietzsche, a copy of Mein Kampf and a minor arrest record—Ian Brady had everything he needed to catch Myra's eye. The couple often went picnicking on the English moors, discussing Myra's Nazi heroine, Irma Grese, or the Marquis de Sade, or Leopold and Loeb, the infamous pair who killed a young boy as part of their "perfect crime." It was 1968, when she was 21, that the pair began to actively emulate their heroes. Over the next two years, they would abduct, molest and kill at least five teenagers, boys and girls, then bury them in the moors.
Myra and Ian grew cocky and pleased with themselves. In this time before advanced forensics, police had trouble finding the bodies or linking the disappearances, and the couple had evaded any suspicion thus far. But the thrills were diminishing. They needed to go further.
They tried to enlist Myra's younger brother into their next plan for sexual homicide. They were sure they were onto the most exciting and fulfilling diversion ever, why would the boy refuse? Yet when he was handed the bloody hatchet that Brady was using on their victim's head, Myra's brother not only refused to finish the job, he went immediately to police with the details. Brady was arrested, but Hindley had to turn herself in to claim her share of the crime.
Brady, diagnosed as schizophrenic, is serving his life sentence in an institute for the criminally insane. Myra Hindley, serving life in prison, underwent a religious conversion in 1986, and has lobbied since that time for an early release. It's one of the few cases in which the male and female partners of a killing team were sentenced almost evenly, as was appropriate. Both of them were sociopaths, not just sadists, and both lacked conscience equally. They were a frighteningly well-matched set of psychos.
This is because the Übermensch Wench will only seek the rare man whom she considers her equal, or better. She wants a partner she can worship, someone special of high status who will be worthy of a woman as unique as she. But while she dotes on her partner, ostensibly pursuing victims for his happiness, he is also highly susceptible to her very pointed criticism. Men who claim they're beyond mortal morality are then expected to act convincingly godlike. If the man isn't godlike, then how to justify such extreme sacrifices in his name? And how is the woman going to claim to have been in his thrall?
Charlene Gallego, a well-off suburban girl with an IQ of 160, seemed to be a total submissive to husband Gerald. She called him "Daddy," tiptoed around his slaps and elbow-jabs, and catered to him in any way she could, even sharing him with other women when she had to. When he developed erection trouble, Charlene suggested that they pick up sex slaves—but only to make her man happy, mind you, not because she was, herself, an admitted raging sex addict who liked little girls. Gerald gave Charlene the excuse she needed to indulge her own sick appetites. They raped and killed eight young women in their pursuit of Gerald's erection and Charlene's orgasm.
Smart, assertive Karla Homolka also wanted a superman, so she chose a flashy blonde yuppie rapist who aspired to be a rap star. She and husband Paul Bernardo became notorious for their excessive materialism, laughable narcissism and callow savagery. Karla claimed to be totally controlled by Paul throughout their criminal career, kept in line with threats, belittling, slaps, punches and sodomy. She, too, claimed that she raped and killed young women—including her younger sister—only to keep Paul happy, because she was afraid of him and yet loved him so much. Nevermind the homemade videos of the couple and their victims, which showcased a bossy and determined Karla engaging in direct sexual assault. No, she wouldn't have done any of it, if it weren't for Paul.
Or would she? Hybristophiliacs who fall into this loose grouping seem capable of anything. They paint themselves as "compliant victims," doing what they had to do in order to survive the madmen who had them brainwashed. But they deliberately sought out and encouraged these madmen, believing that only major-league sadists can make suitable romantic partners. After the rape and death of her sister, Karla made a video with Paul, improvising dialogue while sucking him off:
We raped a little girl. Down here in my room. You went out and you found her, got her, brought her back to the house. Brought her downstairs, I was shocked. You fucked her...I let you do that. Because I love you. Because you're the king...If you want to do it 50 times more. We can do it 50 times...Because I love you. Because you're the king. 'Cause you deserve it.
Like Karla these women felt entitled to rape, torture and killing other girls, because their men were kings, they were princesses and they deserved it. Most of them got what they really deserved in court. Only Homolka was able to successfully manipulate the system. She cut a deal with the Canadian Crown for a shockingly light sentence of 12 years max behind bars. Now she's the fantasy girl of wannabe rapists everywhere—the picture-perfect accomplice of a misogynist's wildest dreams.
Then there's the gal who doesn't even try to explain why she did it. What excuse do you give when you're Carol Bundy, and you've just put some makeup on the severed head of a prostitute so your boyfriend can use it for oral sex? Judith Neelley blamed husband Alvin on the stand, but did he really make her repeatedly inject one of their victims with liquid drain cleaner, causing the poor girl slow, gruesome agony? What version of events will our lead-in lady, Cindy Lea Hendy, tell when she takes the stand? She had to force a woman who was bound to a rack to perform cunnilingus on her...why?
Because she's NUTS. Remember? All these women are suffering from a marauding, predatory compulsion to violence by proxy—Freud would add that they suffer from gun envy as well. They are not simply forced into action by outside agents, they are compelled from within. Just as your autonomic system tells you when it's time to eat, theirs reminds them that it's time to violate. Some of them are otherwise sane, some are sociopaths, but they're all fucking nuts. They have issues like Kleenex has tissues. Why else would they be faced with the dilemma of whether or not to sexually abuse a kidnapped prisoner?
There is no profile of hybristophiliacs that covers them all except this: They have an overwhelming lust for outrageous violence. They come from all social classes, all countries, all races. Some are noted for their exceptionally high IQs. Others are noted chiefly for their high blood alcohol and drug levels. They don't all look like Hendy, who at 39 is the very image of a half-dead biker chick. Homolka was a pretty young blonde, and Charlene Gallego, at 24, had no problem passing for 15 when she was luring girls into her van. Some were rural, others suburban, still others preyed in the city. The moral of which is this: Anyone can be a hybristophiliac. You don't have to be a single white male in your mid-20s, prior history of emotional/legal troubles, blah blah FBI serial killer stereotype. You can be black (Debra Brown), obese (Carol Bundy), or even pathologically meek (Janice Hooker). You just gotta love being a moll.
Jennifer Tilly, in the horror-comedy flick Bride of Chucky, hires a man to bring her the remains of her dead lover. She uses black magic to resurrect the psychoslayer, because she's been unable to find another guy who can satisfy her freaky needs like he once did. Once reawakened, Chucky's still an asshole, slapping her and chiding her for wanting to be his bride, but the fire between them still burns like hell. The murder and mayhem begin anew, the gore starts oozing, the bodies fall. She purrs to him, "You always did know how to show a girl a good time."Back To Serial Killers Live HereBack To theNSAisWATCHIN