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‘Too cute’ for jail? Man who killed two people gains cult following on TikTok, 'fans' sign petition for his release from prison

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Aug 11, 2021 11:40 pm

People on TikTok and Twitter rally behind 21-year-old Cameron Herrin, who killed a mother and her daughter in an illegal street racing in Florida. Some are saying his 24-year jail sentence for killing two people is “too much” and “not right.”

In 2018, Herrin, then 18 years old, was driving his brand-new Ford Mustang GT—a high school graduation gift from his parents—along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, Florida.

With him on the passenger side was his brother Tristan, while his friend, John Barrineau, 17 at the time, was in a Nissan Altima next to their vehicle when they hit a stop light. When the traffic light turned green, they both accelerated rapidly and started to race.

According to reports, both vehicles swerved but Herrin’s Mustang was in the outside lane, closest to the waterfront sidewalk where he hit 24-year-old Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt, who was pushing her 21-month-old daughter Lillia in a stroller. Raubenolt died the same day, while her daughter passed away a day later.

Cameron Herrin graduated high school just two days before he hit 24-year-old Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt and her 21-month-old daughter LIllia with his Mustang, speeding at more than 100 mph.

According to police investigation, Herrin’s Mustang data recorder showed that he had been driving at 102 miles per hour before he began hard braking before the crash. At the time, the speed limit on Bayshore Boulevard was 45 miles per hour.

Both Cameron Herrin and John Barrineau were arrested and charged with street racing, vehicular homicide, and reckless driving resulting in serious bodily injury, according to a Tampa Bay 10 News.

Meanwhile, Tristan was charged with racing, which was later on dropped.

Barrineau pleaded guilty in 2020 to a vehicular homicide charge, and accepted a six-year prison sentence.

In April, now 21-year-old Herrin, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 24 years in prison. He is currently incarcerated at the Graceville Correctional Facility in Florida.

Cameron Herrin and his cult following

Following his sentencing in April, Herrin received a deluge of support from obsessed “fans,” who say he deserves both justice and a second chance, and some are puzzled how an attractive young man can spend the prime years of his life in prison.

Herrin wide-eyed after he hears he has been sentenced to 24 years in prison. Photo via Tampa Bay Times

Fan accounts of Herrin on TikTok have also sprouted and gained millions of views. The hashtag #justiceforcameron has over 26 million views as of this writing, while #cameronherrin now has over 1.8 billion (yes, billion) views and videos relating to Herrin currently has 2.1 billion views.

Most of the videos and photos of Herrin on TikTok were clips from his trial, where he was wearing a suit and has a face mask on.

@baderrasker00

#cameronherrin #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #sentenced #accident #cameron #chance

♬ Into Your Arms (feat. Ava Max) - Witt Lowry

Comments on the videos describe Herrin as “cute,” “innocent,” and “brave.”

“Poor boy, I hope they forgive him, he looks innocent, he didn’t do it on purpose,” someone commented.

@cameron_herrin66

##cameronherrin ##herrin ##justiceforcameron ##اكسبل ##اكسبلور ##هيرين

♬ original sound - J

A certain “SK” started a change.org petition to get Herrin out of jail. The petitioner said “24 years is too much for him” and Herrin “didn’t do [it on] perps, it was just an accident.” Over 28,000 people have signed the petition as of this writing.

On Twitter, there are also supporters who believe the 21-year-old is innocent. One Twitter user said, “We won’t give up until you get out of prison, Cameron!” While another expresses her devotion to Herrin, “The bravest man I’ve ever known! You’re the real king, Cameron Herrin.”

Why are these people rooting for Herrin, even though he abruptly ended the life of two innocent victims because of his disturbing driving behavior?

Herrin is currently serving his 24-year sentence at the Graceville Correctional Facility. Photo from the Florida State Department of Corrections 

According to Dr. Todd Grande of Wilmington University’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Delaware, the case of people supporting Herrin may be a combination of two factors—attractiveness bias and hybristophilia. 

Grande says there is a general bias to individuals, who people find attractive—they escape consequences more often than those who are not, and they are sometimes given more opportunities are just some examples.

Hybristophilia, often associated with women, is a phenomenon when people are attracted to high-profile criminals—think serial killers Ted Bundy and Richard Ramirez, and murderer Chris Watts. It occurs when the offender is considered a bad person, and it is their villain status that makes them attractive to women.

Grande believes Herrin doesn’t seem like a “traditional villain” and his “general attractiveness” is a strong motivator in this instance.

The Tampa Bay Times spoke with Herrin’s mother, who described people’s fixation on her son as “almost like an obsession, an unhealthy obsession.” She said the support was comforting at first but things went a scary turn when people stalked their family on social media.

David Raubenolt, the husband and father of those who tragically died, said in an emotional, 45-minute testimony before a judge that “This was a crash, not an accident. Please be aware of that.”

Addressing Herrin directly, Raubenolt said, “It is critical for you to understand, that you’ve created everlasting pain and depths of sorrow.”

“I can’t get enough of the entitled monster who killed them,” said Reubenolt.