Heike Phelan, 53, wedded William Matthew Schiffert, 53, in 2012 in a ceremony in a US prison, where the Texan is serving a 75-year sentence for his part in a fatal stabbing
Image: Huddersfield Examiner)
A Brit woman who married a prisoner serving a life sentence in a Texas jail hopes she will soon be reunited with her husband as she prepares to appeal her ban from the USA.
Heike Phelan, 53, wedded William Matthew Schiffert, 53, in 2012 in a ceremony in a US prison, where the Texan is serving a 75-year sentence for his part in a fatal stabbing.
The hardened criminal first went to an adult prison for shooting and killing a man, aged just 15.
Heike herself received a ban on visiting the US when she was deported in 2017 after overstaying her visa.
Now, the mum-of-two hopes to be reunited with Mr Schiffert, who’s in a maximum-security prison in Colorado, called USP Florence.
“This May will be five years so I can put an appeal in,” she explained to YorkshireLive.
“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.”
Heike has had to make do with telephone calls and more recently video calls during her travel ban.
She said video calls were introduced during the Covid pandemic have been a huge source of support for both of them.
“You have to pay for them but that’s a small price to pay – especially compared to a flight,” Heike laughed.
She said that phone calls are a maximum of thirty minutes long.
“That’s been keeping us going, along with phone calls which are a maximum of thirty minutes, for the past year.
“We speak two or three times a day.”
This Christmas she said she will speak to William over the phone.
“It will probably be a short one on Christmas Day,” she said.
“The prisoners usually put any animosity aside for the day and limit themselves to 10 or 15-minute phone calls so everyone gets a change to call their families.”
Heike has written three fiction books based on William’s life, known as the Convict series.
Now she is writing a fourth book, which will cover the period of William’s life between the first and second books in the series, Child Convict and Career Convict.
Heike previously said that her husband has “calmed down and mellowed a lot” and now “hates prison so is doing everything he needs to get parole”.