Utah Accused Murderer Shuns White Supremacy Past to Marry Mixed-Race Woman in Jail

Mixed-race woman says reformed skinhead is her soul mate.

July 29, 2011 -- Accused murderer and reformed skinhead Curtis Allgier called longtime friend Erika Herrera from a Utah jail this month and asked her to marry him.

"He just asked nonchalantly," Herrera said. "He said, 'I would get married again and you're the person I would want to marry. Would you marry me?' I was taken aback at first, and then I was like, 'Yea, why not?'"

Allgier, 31, is a maximum-security prisoner at Salt Lake County Metropolitan Jail who is accused of murdering corrections officer Stephen Anderson with his own gun in 2007, for which officials will pursue the death penalty.

His face is a mosaic of tattoos, including swastikas. On his chest is an inky version of Adolf Hitler. Both are physical reminders of his upbringing by a family of skinheads.

"He is a low-life," said Anderson's daughter, Michelle DeHaan, a stay-at-home mother of five in Mount Pleasant, Utah. "He has made terrible choices in his life and he's hurting other people because of his choices."

But to Herrera, Allgier is her soul mate: an old friend who shares her passion for tattoos and sends her "stacks upon stacks" of love letters from jail.

"I love him to death and he deserves nothing but the best," she said. "No matter where you are in life, homeless or what your situation may be, I do believe that you deserve to be happy."

They are set to marry inside the jail, where Allgier has been an inmate for four years. The wedding ceremony will take place Aug. 8, Herrera said, although the request is still being processed, according to the Salt Lake County Sherrif's Office.

Any ceremony will lack visitors, rings and even a kiss because the couple will be separated by a glass window, Lt. Mike Dinero said.

"It's just a legal ceremony, not a celebration," he said.

Herrera: 'He's a Million Percent Innocent'

Herrera, who is half-Hispanic and half-Hawaiian, said she met Allgier through mutual friends, pre-facial tattoos, in 1999. Ever since, the two have stayed in touch, supporting each other through abusive marriages and Allgier's previous engagement behind bars.

Herrera, 33, describes her fiance as a "kind, loving and caring" man who is "a million percent innocent" of the 2007 murder charges.

"There's other factors in the case," she said. "It could be self-defense. It could be a number of things that people don't know because we weren't there. I guess it will all come out in the case."

Herrera also believes that with her support, the former white supremacist has changed, agreeing to remove or cover up the offensive tattoos on his body.

"If he was so racist, he wouldn't be with someone with my background," she said. "He thinks [skinheads] are weak because they need someone to fall back onto. He is his own individual person.

Love Letters From an Accused Murderer

The physical loneliness hits her at night, said Herrera, who lives in California. But countless love letters, cards and drawings bridge the distance, drawing the couple closer emotionally, she said.

In a letter to his fiance, Allgier wrote, "You inspire, uplift, empower, encourage and perfect me. ... Nobody can even fathom, comprehend or understand the way that we are and the way that we are meant to be together."

Herrera said, "We could not know each other anymore than we already do. The best way to learn about somebody is to talk to them for years upon years because you learn about that person so much more."

The Prison Wedding

The wedding ceremony between Allgier and Herrera will take three to five minutes, Lt. Dinero said.

"The people getting married don't have any contact," he said. "It's done through a glass window. They come in, sign the papers, say the vows, and leave."

Dinero said that no family members are allowed to attend the ceremony. As a maximum security prisoner, Allgier will be in hand and feet shackles, wearing a "standard jail issued jump suit."

Herrera said that she had no plans to wear a wedding gown.

"That would just be asinine to wear a wedding dress when I can't even kiss my husband," she said. "I'm the type of girl that has tattoos on my hand. You wouldn't catch me in a dress anyways."

Instead of exchanging rings, she said, the couple, who have tattoos on their faces, will tattoo each other's names on their ring fingers. They are hoping for a "honeymoon" in a state prison that allows conjugal visits, because the Salt Lake County Metropolitan Jail does not.

"We're hoping hoping that [Allgier] will get moved to a prison that allows conjugal visits." she said. "It's also for the conjugal visits, is why we're getting married so quick."

Future Groom Faces Death Penalty

DeHaan said that she doesn't care about the personal life of her father's alleged murderer.

"If somebody wants to marry him, that's their own thing," she said. "I just want him off the road and safe from hurting anyone else."

Allgier was being escorted June 25, 2007, by corrections officer Anderson to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City where the prisoner was scheduled to have an MRI. After Allgier's handcuffs were removed, he grabbed Anderson's gun and allegedly shot the officer to death, according to the Utah County Sherrif's Office.

"It was horrible, horrible. Very devastating," Anderson's daughter, DeHaan, said. "It was hard to believe that it would happen to him."

The Salt Lake County district attorney's office notified the court last March of its intention to seek the death penalty for Allgier for the alleged 2007 murder of Anderson, according to the Associated Press.

Allgier's attorney was not immediately available for comment to ABCNews.com.

"If his crime in the law is punishable by death, to me that's acceptable," DeHaan said. "Whatever serves justice, [my family and I] say is right."

Herrera, whose family disapproves of her marriage to Allgier, she said that if her fiancee is convicted and receives the death penalty, she would have the marriage annulled. "I can't let that weigh on my heart," she said. "I want a life and I want to get on with my life, so that's something that's not in the cards for me."

For now, she worries about her Allgier's recent dramatic weight loss in jail: 40 pounds because of stress from his impending trial, she said.

His lawyers have filed a motion to add supplemental nutrition to his meals Aug. 20.

After that comes the request to remove his tattoos, some of which will be covered up rather than erased.

"I'm not saying he's going to come out with a bunch of flowers all over him," Herrera said, "but he's going to come out a changed person."