Serial killer Wayne Adam Ford had few public admirers when Victoria Redstall, a former spokesmodel for breast enhancement supplements, breezed through the doors at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga determined to meet him.
Redstall, a British-born actress from Studio City, admits to a lifelong fixation on serial killers and said meeting Ford in April -- to interview him for a documentary -- was "the dream of a lifetime."
She expected to be fascinated, she said, but not drawn into a deep bond with Ford that has caused a disruption in court and triggered an investigation by the Sheriff's Department.
"I trust Wayne with my life.... He's got such a kindness to him and such a conscience," she said, her eyes briefly filling with tears during an interview at a cafe in Studio City last week. "He is so tuned in to me and I to him that sometimes words don't have to be said."
Ford, a former long-haul truck driver, is on trial in San Bernardino County for crimes that would send most women running in the opposite direction. In 1997 and 1998, Ford murdered three prostitutes and a hitchhiker, dismembering two and dumping all four bodies in California waterways, before surrendering voluntarily with his final victim's breast in a Ziplock bag in his jacket pocket.
A jury convicted Ford of four counts of first-degree murder in June and on Monday began deliberating over whether to send him to death row.
Redstall, who also does voice-overs for commercials and had bit parts in the movies "The Rock" and "Nothing to Lose," began visiting Ford so often last spring at the detention center that it dominated her evenings and weekends.
She says they shared details of their childhoods and sang country songs together through the plexiglass in the jail's visitors chambers and that she got gooseflesh the first time he sang. When Ford couldn't remember all the words to Dwight Yoakam's "A Thousand Miles From Nowhere," she sent him the lyrics, she said.
The unusual relationship between Redstall and the defendant is causing waves at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and appears to have unnerved Ford's attorneys.
At their request, San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Smith held a hearing Friday to review Redstall's media credentials to cover the trial.
The judge asked Redstall to provide verification on letterhead that she is actually doing a documentary with the company she listed on her media request, but he told Ford's lawyers he was reluctant to ban her from filming and photographing Ford.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department also has launched a "personnel investigation involving inmate Ford and his visitation," said department spokeswoman Cindy Beavers, declining to elaborate. But Redstall said the inquiry was related to her visits.
She says she met Ford when a deputy who works at the detention center gave her a tour. The tour included a very unusual stop in Ford's maximum-security unit while he was out of his cell for free time, she said.
During Redstall's hearing Friday, Ford's attorney, Steven Mapes, said the deputy who shepherded Redstall into the jail was told he would be fired if he brought her back again.
Mapes also asked Redstall whether she knew jail officials had posted a flier with her picture instructing deputies not to let her in.
"No!" she exclaimed on the stand with a response that made even the judge chuckle. "Can I get a copy of the picture?"
Beavers said she could not comment on the fliers or on Redstall's visits.
After getting the judge's permission, Redstall photographed Ford so frequently -- even keeping one picture as the screensaver on her cellphone -- that court officials began publicly reprimanding her for taking pictures in the courtroom when it wasn't permitted for any photographer.
Soon courtroom officials scaled back all media access to Ford -- even taking the extra step of ordering everyone near the courtroom to be out of Ford's line of sight when he was escorted down the hall.
One of Ford's attorneys, Deputy Public Defender Joseph D. Canty Jr., declined to comment on his client's relationship with Redstall, saying it would violate attorney-client privilege.
He did say, however, that he was troubled by her conduct in court and at the county jail.
"This is not a person who is being honest and forthright with the court," Canty said.
Redstall says she has already lost friends over her bond with Ford, which she insists is deeply "emotional" but not romantic.
"Everyone tells me, 'Be careful, he's a serial killer' ... but they don't know Wayne like I do," she said. "We've all got evil in us -- all of us. He took it to the extent of killing humans.... But I'm going on the man he is today and the remorse that he has today."
The irony of a model for breast enhancement pills, Herbal Grobust, seeking out a killer with a breast fetish is not lost on her, and she addresses it with the dark humor that both shocks and entertains the people she talks to in the courtroom.
"It's hysterical," she said.
After closing arguments last week in Ford's sentencing hearing, Redstall drove alongside the bus returning Ford to the jail in her red convertible so he could see her blond hair blowing and her jewelry glimmering in the sunlight, she said.
She says she feels bad about the scandal she's caused at the jail but that she's no stranger to causing disruptions.
In 2004, her former homeowners association sued her in Los Angeles County for attracting news helicopters -- another one of her obsessions -- that would hover over the condo building and shine their spotlights down as she was on the balcony in her nightclothes, she said.
Redstall said she later starred in an independent film loosely based on her copter attraction -- "Hover me: The Making of Helicopter Girl."
But that's another story. Right now, Redstall says she is focused on getting financing so she can get Ford's side of the story out and getting back in to see Ford.
"Wayne's pleasure of his day is having me visit him," Redstall said, "and we're going to get this documentary made together."