In a sign of the times that disturbs even his court-appointed defender, Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz is getting flooded with fan mail from women and men who profess love and support for the teen killer of 17 people.
The letters addressed to the mass murderer are building in stacks at the Broward County Jail, where Cruz sits under suicide watch. Cruz, 19, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, was indicted by a Broward grand jury on 17 counts of first degree murder and an additional 17 counts of attempted murder.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty. Cruz is accused of opening fire with a semiautomatic rifle inside the school on Feb. 14, killing 14 students and three faculty members.
Still, Cruz is attracting supporters — if not outright ardor — as letters, some sexual in nature, continue to pour into the jail.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The Sun Sentinel, which first reported this story, obtained copies of several.
“I’m 18-years-old. I’m a senior in high school. When I saw your picture on the television, something attracted me to you,” read one that arrived from Texas. “Your eyes are beautiful and the freckles on your face make you so handsome.”
Another: “No one else is dealing w/your demons, meaning maybe defeating them could be the beginning of your meaning, friend. I know you could use a good friend right now. Hang in there and keep your head up.”
In addition, Cruz’s commissary account is swelling with at least $800 in donated funds.
“In my 40 years as public defender, I’ve never seen this many letters to a defendant. Everyone now and then gets a few, but nothing like this,” public defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office represents Cruz, told the Sun Sentinel.
“The letters shake me up because they are written by regular, everyday teenage girls from across the nation,” Finkelstein added. “That scares me. It’s perverted.”
This, of course, is not a new trend. Jailhouse and prison convicts have long attracted the attention of the unbalanced.
Charles Manson, convicted in 1971 for the Tate-LaBianca murders in California, was perhaps the most infamous. He didn’t physically kill the victims of those August 1969 slayings, including actress Sharon Tate, but led his so-called “Family” to initiate them, prosecutors proved.
But over the years, until his death in November at 83, Manson’s “Family” grew with new followers on social media, the web, through old-fashioned snail mail, and even through offers of marriage. Afton Elaine Burton, a woman Manson took out a license to marry in 2014 when he was 80 and she was 26, attended his recent memorial service earlier this month in California.
Serial killer Ted Bundy, executed at Florida State Prison in 1989 for killing Florida State University sorority sisters Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman in January 1978, attracted a slew of fans, besotted by the good-looking mass murderer who confessed to 30 murders but may have committed more.
Lyle and Erik Menendez, the Beverly Hills brothers convicted in 1994 of the 1989 shotgun murders of their parents, each got married while in prison. Lyle, now 50, married one of his pen pals but she divorced him nearly five years later when she accused him of cheating on her. He was writing to another woman, she said. Lyle remarried.
Perhaps the difference is that Cruz, unlike Manson, Bundy et al., is still a teenager and 14 of his victims were his age and younger. He’s receiving these letters from his peers.
Cruz, at this point, hasn’t seen the missives, many with scrawled hearts and doodles, because he’s on suicide watch, his defender told the Sun Sentinel. The groupie letters have been mailed from around the world, from New York to Germany, CBS12 reported.
Cruz’s slayings led to last weekend’s massive March For Our Lives rally in Washington, with related local marches in Parkland and Miami Beach. The marches urged lawmakers to pass stronger gun laws in the wake of Parkland. Messages of support for the movement poured in from several world leaders.
Follow @HowardCohen on Twitter.