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'He is the love of my life' - Stourbridge mother to marry American murderer pen pal

By Richard Guttridge | Stourbridge | News | Published:

A Black Country mother who fell in love with her American prisoner pen pal is set to marry him – despite the fact he may never be released.

Left, Emma Pickett, from Stourbridge, with Justin Erskine, and right, top, Emma with photographs of a visit to see Justin last year, and bottom, a collection of letters from Justin that Emma has kept

Emma Pickett, from Stourbridge, began writing to Justin Erskine last year after coming across his profile online and now says he is the love of her life.

Erskine is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder without chance of parole – meaning he will never be released.

Emma Pickett pictured at her home

He was jailed for his role in the June 2006 killing of two men.

Erskine was found guilty of first-degree murder after being accused of giving a butterfly knife to a friend, who committed the killings.

He then helped to bury the bodies in Maryland, according to reports.

Ms Pickett said she initially struck up a friendship with the murderer, who is being held in in Delaware on the US east coast, as the pair bonded over poetry, books and music.

Emma Pickett's wedding ring engraved with 'ah, its you'

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But she soon found herself falling for the convicted criminal, despite his past, and the pair declared their love for another within weeks.

The 33-year-old now plans to marry the lifer, aged 30.

The mother of three also hopes to move to the States along with her three young children, who she says have a great relationship with the convict. Erskine has no children.

She first flew out to visit him in September and the couple shared their first kiss.

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Emma and Justin from her visit to his prison in Delaware

And care home worker Emma – who has been married once before – is in close contact with his family.

Emma said the couple hope to get married later this year.

She said: “Writing to a prisoner was something I had seen other people do. I had friends that had done it.

“There is a stigma attached to it. But it is not the case that everybody in prison is automatically a terrible person.

“I was looking through profiles but nobody was really jumping out to me. But then I came across Justin’s page.

“He liked poetry and books and I liked the look of him. I wrote my first letter in April 2017. I wasn’t really expecting to hear back from him.

“But he wrote back and it turned out we had so much in common. Things escalated and we got to the point where there were three or four letters going between us at any point.

“By the beginning of July we both started to realise that there was a bit more between us.

"We actually had both written a letter to say we loved the other and they were both in the post at the same time.

“We spoke for the first time on the phone on July 16. I was so nervous. But as soon as I heard his voice all my anxieties disappeared. There is a sense of familiarity with him. Now we talk on the phone all the time. I have been over to visit him twice now.

"It blew me away when we met for the first time. We kissed for the first time and it was so special.

Emma Pickett

“He exceeded my expectations and meeting him confirmed all my feelings.

“He is the love of my life and when he asked me to marry him of course I said yes. Ms Pickett has now joined Erskine’s family in attempting to fight his conviction but admits she knows he may never get out.

“I knew what his sentence was when I started to write to him. I went in with my eyes open. I could have stopped writing,” she said.

“But I didn’t because I knew what I was doing. It is hard, don’t get me wrong. But I love him.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Deputy Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Deputy Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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