LIFESTYLE

Charles Manson Due To Marry Afton Elaine Burton, But Why Might A Woman Want To Marry A Serial Killer?

18/11/2014 16:11 GMT | Updated 18/11/2014 19:59 GMT

Marrying someone 54 years older than yourself might raise warning flags for some, let alone if the groom is a convicted serial killer who has already spent four decades in prison.

Yet none of this matters to 26-Year-Old Afton Elaine Burton, who sought out Charles Manson, the 80-year-old serial killer who was convicted of murdering seven people including actress Sharon Tate.

According to Time magazine, Burton first asked to visit Manson in jail in 2007 after reading some of his environmental writings and the pair soon began a long-distance relationship. They have now been granted a marriage license.

Burton is not the first woman to seek out a prison inmate as an acquaintance, but it makes us wonder what would make such a relationship appealing.

charles manson

Afton Elaine Burton and Charles Manson

Convicts Dale Cregan, Josef Fritzl, Richard Ramirez and Peter Sutcliffe have all reportedly received a deluge of love letters from female fans.

In 2001, Charles Bronson - a man dubbed Britain's most violent prisoner - married his pen pal Saira Rehman.

Bronson and Rehman divorced four years later, but why might a woman be drawn to a prisoner in the first place?

"We are often unconsciously drawn to relationships - both romantic and friendly - that echo a pattern displayed by a significant figure in our early lives," Sheri Jacobson, psychotherapist and clinical director at Harley Therapy tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"As an example, if we were treated in a cruel or abusive way, we may seek out this trait in a partner - we unconsciously re-enact the past.

"Or we sometimes react to a characteristic of an attachment figure - parent or parental substitute - by choosing contrasting features in a partner. So rather than being attracted to someone with the same traits, we might be drawn to the opposite features."

Burton began corresponding with Manson when she was just 17 years old.

Dr Raj Persaud, consultant Psychiatrist in private practice at Harley Street says we must remember women outside prison can be manipulated by men who are behind bars.

"These women are often groomed or seduced by the imprisoned men's apparent vulnerability and the prisoners can be very manipulative and explain that the case against them is flawed, bringing out the maternal instinct in some women.

"Remember these men are often in prison for crimes usually involving manipulation so it's part of their character to do this

"Also the fact the man is contained behind bars means the women feel safe to experiment with a relationship - often paradoxically they may feel oddly safer than starting a relationship with a non-prisoner man outside as that man isn't contained."

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Manson and Burton must marry within 90 days for their union to be official. They are allowed to invite up to 10 guests from outside the prison to the ceremony.

Dr Persaud says that such strict regulations may be appealing to some women.

"There is a sense in which the woman feels uniquely in control in this situation perhaps compared to other relationships she may have had in the past," he says.

"The man behind bars will hang on her every word - he'll seem like he needs her. There also isn't the problem of other female competition."

Although we will never fully understand the true motivation behind Burton's romance with Manson, she certainly won't be the last to pursue such a relationship.

Burton claims that Manson is innocent, and their marriage will allow her access to certain files to prove as much, but the pessimists among us might say that this is a fruitless endeavour considering his age and the amount of time he's already served.

Infamous Serial Killers