Brit mum hopes to visit killer husband she didn’t hug until years after wedding

A Brit mum who married a prisoner serving a 75-year sentence in a Texas jail says she hopes to visit him soon – despite being banned from entering the US.

After marrying convicted killer William Matthew Schiffert, Heike Phelan had to wait a year before she could even kiss him for the first time, and she may have to wait a while longer before she can be with him again.

The 53-year-old, from Huddersfield, has applied to the US Department of Homeland Security to lift a 10-year ban on visiting the United States which was imposed when she overstayed on a tourist visa.

"This May will be five years so I can put an appeal in," she told Yorkshire Live.

"An immigration lawyer over there has told me they're not supposed to be able to ban you from the country for more than five years if you have an American spouse.

"If that is applicable it would be great. To be able to visit my husband again would be brilliant."

Schiffert, 53, was jailed in 2001 for his part in a fatal knife attack, but has a long criminal history that began when he shot and killed a man at the age of just 15.

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He says he had a difficult childhood – being placed in an orphanage at the age of 4 just because his parents “didn’t want him” and enduring a brutal regime when he served time in an adult jail while still a teenager.

He said: “One of the officers ran a secret fight club.

"They would place bets on who would win.”

But Heike says that she got involved with him, Schiffert, “has calmed down and mellowed a lot".

She said: "He now hates prison so is doing everything he needs to get parole."

The couple first met through a Christmas card scheme on a prisoner support website and Schiffert made no effort to conceal his criminal history.

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The mum-of-two was writing to the killer for 18 months before they actually met, and found she “learned to trust him” though his letters.

“In the very first letter he told me what he was in prison for”, Heike said.

She said that she had confirmed everything he told her by searching for court reports on Google.

“Every time he told me something, that's what I did,” she said, “and every time it did turn out to be correct.”

A year before they married, Schiffert had Heike’s name tattooed on his eyebrows:

Heike said: “He had the tattoos done as my birthday present. It was a complete shock.”

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She claims her husband is inside for “being party to a murder,” rather than an actual stabbing.

“He was at the scene when somebody else did it,” she says. “He was sitting in a car when his friend had an argument with somebody outside a hotel room. He got 75 years in 2001.”

Heike married her jailbird love on November 9 2012, despite her family’s objections: “My family are not happy with me being married to him. It just doesn’t get talked about. My daughters are 32 and 30 – they don’t want to know about him”.

But, she says, “it’s my life and it’s his life and he has been part of my life for several years".

She added: "I didn’t go out to find a prisoner husband”.

Heike believes Schiffert could be eligible for parole in just couple of years, and hopes they can one day be together.

“He's just become part of my life,” she says. “I still have my job and friends and my lifestyle, I go out and travel, I've written books about his life in prison. He's a benefit and addition to my life just like any other relationship”.

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