Brit women who agreed to marry sadistic killers and violent criminals in prison

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While it might seem horrifying, the phenomenon of civilians marrying criminals behind bars or even on death row is hardly new.

From serial killers to violent criminals, they've all found love in the arms of pen pals who are often fascinated by their macabre pasts.

Some are seemingly able to ignore the evil deeds of their lover, while others insist that their partner is a changed person.

They often spend thousands on phone calls and visits, planning their big day with those who might even be awaiting execution.

And these marriages usually catch the world's attention.

Charles Bronson, dubbed the UK's most dangerous inmate, found himself a wife while locked up – and even managed a divorce too.

Partners of serial killers have shared the abuse they've received over their relationships while others have told how their families actually accepted it.

Some have even gone to great lengths to hide their taboo relationships.

Below is a list of British women who became infamous for marrying a murderer or dangerous criminal behind bars.

Tracy Bottomley

Tracy Bottomley married double murderer Ernest Otto Smith after joining a prison pen pal scheme.

The 41-year-old was fully aware that Otto Smith had been jailed for life, without parole, after murdering a woman and man in 2005.

Tracy, from Shipley, West Yorks, aimed to marry her love in 2020, planning on getting hitched at Ohio Department of Prisons in the US.

Speaking to the Star in 2019, she said: "Ernest doesn’t scare me – I’ve never been someone who gets frightened easily. Yes he is a serial killer, he’s ­committed a few murders, but I understand the risks of what could happen and I still love him. Being killed isn’t the best way to go, but everybody dies one day.

"I’m going to die eventually and I don’t mind the fact it could be at the hands of him.”

The killer proposed over voicemail and Tracy didn't hesitate to say yes.

It's unclear whether the wedding has taken place due to the pandemic.

Hayley Palmer

You could argue that the union of street robber Hayley Palmer and serial killer Joanna Dennehy is a match made in hell.

Dennehy shared her plans to marry Palmer in 2021.

The triple murderer met her now fiancée while Palmer was also in jail, serving a 16-year sentence. Dennehy is serving a life term.

Palmer was said to be seeking legal advice on marrying Dennehy in jail, with a friend telling the Mirror: "It's a very strange relationship. It's very weird to say but they seem good for each other.

Hayley speaks about Joanna like she's her high school sweetheart. They talk every single day and fully intend to get married.

Early this year, the sadistic killer who killed three men during a 10-day spree, told her fiancée that she is a "fully committed psychopath".

However, their relationship is said to be on the rocks and could have even hit a dead end after Dennehy reportedly stopped reaching out to Palmer.

Marianne Willment

Marianne stood by her fiancé Jonathan Stasiuk even after he brutally murdered an OAP.

The 59-year-old, from Sandown, on the Isle of Wight, said in 2019 that she would remain faithful and marry 60-year-old Stasiuk despite his crime.

Stasiuk brutally murdered his friend Gerry White, 75, with a chainsaw.

Marianne has told how she regularly gets abused in the street and has even been punched because of her fiance.

Marianne told the Mirror in 2017: “I’m worried about being labelled as the partner of a killer for the rest of my life. But if anyone has a problem with me I’d tell them, ‘I didn’t kill him’.

"He should not have killed him but I do forgive him. I would really like to marry him."

Stasiuk proposed before he was jailed but according to Marianne, his sentencing hasn't changed anything.

Rebecca Short

Like many other blushing brides, Rebecca Short flooded social media with pictures from her special day.

The only difference was that her husband, Manuel Ovate Jr, is a double murderer awaiting lethal injection on death row.

Rebecca, from Oxfordshire, tricked her family into believing she was on holiday in the US, when she was actually tying the knot at Eyman jail, Florence, Arizona.

The pair began as pen pals with Ovante describing himself as a 'goofball' who is 'loyal' and 'easy to get along with'.

He has spent more than a decade in jail after being sentenced to death in 2010.

Ovante Jr, 35, murdered a woman and a man as he looked for drugs in 2008.

He was allowed to leave his cell for the wedding with Rebecca, a dental assistant.

She posed with her new husband and with her in-laws.

Paula Williamson

Actress Paula is perhaps one of the most infamous women on this list.

Marrying the prolific Charles Bronson, considered one of the UK's most violent and dangerous inmates, Paula was perhaps best known for her acting roles in Hollyoaks, Scott & Bailey and Emmerdale.

Bronson and Paula's relationship began when they became pen pals.

The couple tied the knot at HMP Wakefield, aka Monster Mansion, in West Yorkshire in November 2017.

They were allowed just two hours together, under supervision at an intimate ceremony attended by a few friends.

However, a series of explosive and very public tiffs saw their relationship quickly falling apart.

Bronson, known for attacking fellow prisoners and prison guards, was said to have made nasty jibes at her weight.

The pair were set to have their marriage annulled when Paula was found dead in 2019.

She was found in her home after being found unresponsive following a night out with friends.

She was found by her new partner, Peter Jones and the death was ruled as drug-related.

Bronson attended the inquest as he was still listed as Paula's next of kin.

He furiously stated: "As far as I am concerned, there should be two scumbags in this courtroom; the person who gave her the drugs, and the other; the geezer in her house, who reported it, and should have been looking after her.

"I'd like to know why the police haven't investigated the scumbag who's given her the drugs in the first place. Because if I was on the outside, I would have his name and address within 24 hours."

Naomi Wise

Essex woman Naomi Wise is on her way to marry a double murderer she has never met.

Meeting as pen pals, Naomi, 26, has told how she speaks to her fiancé, Victor Oquendo, on the phone up to 20 times a day.

She was searching online for someone to mentor as practice for her counselling course and ended up meeting and falling in love with her soon-to-be husband.

Oquendo is doing time in Michigan, US, serving a minimum sentence of 24 years for double homicide, home invasions and three counts of armed robbery.

Naomi has apparently made it clear she would not continue the relationship if his crimes were against women or children.

Oquendo proposed three times via phone calls before she eventually agreed. His release date is set for 2034, meaning Naomi could be 39-years-old by the time he gets out.

Karen Charves

Karen Charves met her now-ex husband Kenny Richey when he was on death row.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn't work out.

Richey, a former US Marine originally from Scotland, was the only Brit on death row but had his murder sentence overturned and was released.

He had been convicted of starting a fire in 1986 that claimed the life of his ex-girlfriend's two-year-old daughter.

He was sentenced to death by the electric chair but was released on a plea bargain in 2008.

The pair split when Karen told Richey she was no longer in love with him. He then accused his wife of having flirty chats with his brother, who is also a convict.

Karen said that Richey left her more than £10K in debt.

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  • Murder
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