Parkland shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz has fans and they're sending him letters and money in jail
Accused Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz has been receiving volumes of fan mail at the Florida jail where he is being held.
In a pattern seen before with other killers and men accused of violent crimes, Cruz, who is charged with 17 counts of murder for the massacre at the school, has been sent suggestive photographs, greeting cards, encouragement and other kind notes, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, which obtained copies of some of the missives.
Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office represents Cruz, said he was concerned about the notoriety Cruz was getting.
"The letters shake me up because they are written by regular, everyday teenage girls from across the nation," he said. "That scares me. It's perverted."
The Sun Sentinel showed a thick stack of hundreds of pages of photocopies of the letters Cruz has been sent.
"You're in a tough spot, Nik, and that is something I know, because I've been there myself," one letter writer wrote Cruz. "If you need something, I can mail to you . . . ask. If you need to talk . . . I'll listen."
On March 15, a person who identified themselves as an 18-year-old woman from Texas wrote: "When I saw your picture on the television, something attracted me to you."
The letter was inside an envelope decorated with hearts and happy faces, the Sentinel reported.
"Your eyes are beautiful and the freckles on your face make you so handsome."
Another woman sent Cruz nine suggestive photos, the newspaper reported.
Finkelstein told the Sentinel that the "piles of letters" to Cruz was unlike anything he has seen before.
"In my 40 years as public defender, I've never seen this many letters to a defendant," he said. "Everyone now and then gets a few, but nothing like this."
Some of the correspondence is also from men. Finkelstein told the newspaper that Cruz, who is on suicide watch, has not seen the letters. The Broward County Jail opens most mail for inmates, the Sentinel reported; mail that is vulgar or deemed a security threat is returned to sender.
"We read a few religious ones to him that extended wishes for his soul and to come to God, but we have not and will not read him the fan letters or share the photos of scantily-clad teenage girls," Finkelstein told the newspaper.
The $800 in Cruz's commissary account has apparently been sent, at least in part, by fans, Finkelstein said.
The Sentinel also reported on a secret Cruz fan page on Facebook, where members speak of their support and affection for him.
One woman recently solicited pictures to make a collage to send Cruz.
"I want him to see how many people love and care for him and all the beautiful faces," she wrote, according to the Sentinel.
Sarahnell Murphy, an assistant state attorney in Broward County, recently said in court that Cruz's brother, Zachary, who was recently arrested on a trespassing charge after officials said he visited the scene of the Parkland shooting, had been overheard "discussing how popular his brother is now."
The phenomenon of so-called "serial-killer groupies" has long fascinated and horrified as people have exhibited similar attraction and warm behavior toward other accused or convicted killers, like Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Ted Bundy, who married one of his fans before he was executed in 1989.
Prosecutors in Florida have said that they plan to seek the death penalty for Cruz.