Prison bride of convicted killer is topic of new documentary
Filmmakers Nancy Saslow and Carolyn Carmines were fascinated to read about how Scott Peterson, who’s on Death Row for killing his pregnant wife, Laci, was getting bags of fan mail at San Quentin from female admirers.
“We wondered, ‘Who are these women who are attracted to marrying men in prison?’” says Carmines.
Their investigation led them to find Tammi Menendez, who married Erik Menendez 10 years ago.
The result of their efforts is a documentary called Mrs. Menendez. Saslow, an Emmy and a Peabody Award winner, directed the film and Carmines produced it.
Erik Menendez is serving a life sentence without parole, along with his brother, Lyle, for brutally murdering their parents in Beverly Hills in 1989. It’s not likely Erik will be getting out of prison any time soon. In fact, he’s never getting out. So 37-year-old Tammi Ruth Saccoman was on the phone in a waiting room at Folsom State Prison when she vowed to keep 28-year-old Erik to have and to hold. Holding is out of the question, though. Conjugal visits are not allowed for convicted killers in California state prisons. Tammi later said, “Our wedding cake was a Twinkie. We improvised.”
She also said her marriage to Erik was something that she had dreamed about for a long time. Not to belabor the obvious, she also said her friends do not understand her at all.
Erik’s brother, Lyle, has been married twice while in prison. His first wife divorced him when she discovered he’d been corresponding with another woman.
Tammi self-published a book in 2005, They Said We’d Never Make It – My Life with Erik Menendez.
Mrs. Menendez premiered in New York recently, and was selected as Best Biographical Documentary by the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. It was also featured last month at the Tiburon Film Festival.
“What has been rewarding to us,” says Carmines, “is that the audiences have left talking and debating the issues raised, as well as examining their own beliefs about ‘what were they thinking?’”
Carmines and Saslow run a successful production company in Mill Valley, MEg TV.