But there were also elements of the conversations that were pretty sick. "He loves girls ages four to six," she says. "He loves how they are just so amazed by everything, and so happy. He wanted small feet ... and he'll lick feet. He'll lick their faces and make out with them."

Samantha found herself uncomfortable listening to Karr obsessing about girls, but at the same time, she was drawn to what she calls his charisma. She wanted to give him everything he wanted, and that's why she agreed to begin recruiting young girls for a sex cult they called "The Immaculates."

"I sized up girls on the street," she says. "I would look at their feet, their face, their hair, their size. He's not a fan of black girls, so when I saw one, I'd think, 'She's just not gonna work.' When I look back at all that, it scares me so much. He was grooming me to be a pedophile."

Richard Allen Davis, 
one of Samantha’s new pen pals, 
expressed no remorse for the 1993 
killing of 12-year-old Polly Klaas.
© John Burgess/Reuters/Corbis
Richard Allen Davis, one of Samantha’s new pen pals, expressed no remorse for the 1993 killing of 12-year-old Polly Klaas.

Before Samantha could deliver any children to Karr, her adoptive parents sent her to a rehab facility in Montana for 16 months. When she got out and refused to continue the recruitment, Karr threatened her. "If you cost me my little girls, I will hunt you down and kill you," he wrote. Then came the restraining order, the Today Show appearance, and the SFPD investigation, which has gone nowhere. Police believe Karr, who supposedly underwent gender reassignment surgery and now goes by Alexis Valoran Reich, is in Europe, keeping afloat with funding from supporters.

Samantha has not seen Karr in person since she was in the fourth grade. Sometimes, the people who care about her wonder whether the distant pen pal romance might be healthier than some of Samantha's close encounters.


What's going on with the story?" a groggy voice asks the reporter. Turns out it is Samantha. She's calling from a hospital bed. And she's on morphine.

The night before,she had been hanging around with a group of people partaking in various substances (that she and her friends requested not be revealed). She found herself gravitating toward an attractive guy who — for once — was her age. They went home together, and although the details are hazy, they had rough sex, she remembers. A lot of it. The guy was inexperienced, and his technique was "gruesome, like something you'd see on Animal Planet."

When it was over, she wasn't angry. She felt bad for the guy. "Poor thing," she says. "He thought I was enjoying myself."

The next morning, she says, her genitals were swollen to the size of a grapefruit. She checked into the hospital, and resolved not to have anything to do with men under 40, whom she considers too inexperienced.

Even better than sticking to older men, of course, would be developing relationships with prisoners. "They're locked away," she says. "You can't be intimate with someone through glass or a phone, so it's a safe relationship."

Shortly after the trauma, she composed a letter to Charles Manson, who is serving a life sentence at Corcoran State Prison for a series of brutal murders he orchestrated in 1969.

11 September 2010

Dear Charlie,

 

How are you holding up these days, Charlie? My name is Samantha Spiegel. I have always been extremely fascinated by you and Helter Skelter — incredibly so. In fact, I'm going to be reading [Vincent] Bugliosi's Helter Skelter after my roommate. This always sounds crazy to people, but your ideals, your ideaseverything makes sense. You have lived quite a life and I really do respect that and in a way admire that. I may not have lived as much as you have, but I haven't had it easy always. I completely relate to you and Helter Skelter.

 Samantha says she doesn't really believe that Manson's vision of Helter Skelter — an apocalyptic race war started with murder of the wealthy — is all that appealing. But she wanted to lay it on thick to increase her chances of receiving a letter from Manson. So far, none has come.

Expressing her admiration isn't the only way she has tried to compel murderers to write her. She routinely visits web forums like Write-a-Murderer, where she has learned how to find out the location and identification numbers of prisoners she intends to contact, as well as what subjects to bring up and what ones to avoid.

She also took a trip to Union Square, where she purchased a handmade floral stationery set. On its delicate paper, she composed more than a dozen letters to Richard Ramirez, Richard Allen Davis, Charles Manson, and several members of the Manson Family. She finished each off with a spritz of Narciso Rodriguez perfume. "They should have pretty stationery," she says. "I save it especially for them."

Samantha took to checking her mailbox promptly at 3 p.m. She knew that eventually the day would come when a famous prisoner would write back, and it didn't take long. On that warm September afternoon, not even a week after she had mailed her initial batch of letters, she reached into the mailbox and retrieved a correspondence from San Quentin inmate Richard Allen Davis.

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