By KATE LEAVER
Charles Manson is an 80-year-old serial killer with a swastika carved into the space between his eyes, a scraggly beard, and a life sentence to serve.
He is one of the few figures in recent history society collectively considers truly evil – having masterminded the mass murder of six people, including actress Sharon Tate, in 1969.
So how did this terrifying man end up engaged to a beautiful, free, 26-year-old woman?
Afton Elaine Burton (who goes by the name ‘Star’) is set to marry Manson in an intimate ceremony (in his cell) within the next 90 days. The couple obtained a marriage license on November 7 this year from the state of California, which allows them to wed in front of 10 guests but never consummate their union.
The story is almost beyond comprehension. Almost.
I want you to stay with me while I try to comprehend it. To break it down. To understand. To empathise with a woman my own age who is about to marry a heinous criminal who will never walk this earth a free man.
For a start, Burton is not alone in wanting to be romantically involved with a convicted killer. She’s actually not even alone in wanting to marry this convicted killer. Charles Manson has been receiving fan mail, erotic letters, and marriage proposals from female ‘groupies’ for many years. Ever since he was convicted and sent to jail, women have tried to get his attention.
Why? Why do they do this?
The reasons for women soliciting violent, depraved men in jail are complex. The desire to do that is called ‘hybristophilia’. Sexologist Professor John Money describes it as “a sexual paraphilia in which an individual derives sexual arousal and pleasure from having a partner who is known to have committed an outrage or crime, such as rape, murder, or armed robbery.”