Friday, 4 Dec 2020

Brit woman marrying American serial killer says 'he may have committed murders but I understand the risks'

A BRITISH woman set to marry an American double-murderer says she 'understands the risks' and accepts his past.

Tracy Bottomley, 42, from Shipley, west Yorks has never met her jailed fiancée – but says she is prepared for whatever having a serial-killer spouse throws her way.

Ernest Otto Smith, 53, was jailed for life without parole for the murder of a man and woman in 2006.

Tracy, who said she fell in love with the double murderer in 2018 after they began talking via a pen-pal scheme said: "He's committed a few murders but I understand the risks.

"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," Tracy says in a new podcast.

She also revealed that he proposed in a voicemail from prison saying: "You're crazy just like me so we should be married – what do you think?"

Tracy hopes to fly to the US before the year is out to marry the convicted murderer at the Ohio Department of Prisons.

The lovebirds bonded over trauma from abuse they have suffered, Tracy has previously revealed.


"[Ernest] also spoke about what he’d been through and how he was a victim of child abuse which led to him using drugs to battle his depression and anxiety.

"I’ve been in an abusive relationship before and the way he spoke about how his experiences as a child changed him really resonated with me.

"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."

She had been single for three years ­after a string of unlucky relationships and a failed marriage in 2003.

She said: “Ernest’s advert did detail his crimes so I knew that he’d been jailed for life for killing two people.

"I wanted to get to know him, so I sent my details through and a few days later, I got an email from him.”

Soon enough, the pair were emailing three times a day.

Eventually they spoke on the phone and the killer described how he had murdered his victims, James Dillingham and Cathy Barnett.

Tracy said: “He told me step by step how he murdered each one of his victims and why.

"Hearing him talk about it on the phone, I could hear the emotion in his voice as he reflected on what he’d done.

“Ernest doesn’t sound like a murderer, you can’t hear anything crazy in his voice, he regrets what he’s done.”

Smith robbed, shot and killed James Dillingham in Toledo, Ohio, on January 2, 2005.

He was accompanied by Cathy Barnett – but he then murdered her, fearing she would tell police of his crimes.

He attempted to break Cathy’s neck and then beat her to death with a tree branch.

He was ­convicted in March 2006 in Ohio and sentenced to 32 years in ­solitary ­confinement in prison.

In letters written to Tracy from his cell at Ohio State Penitentiary, he wrote: “Girl do you know how happy you make me? Where have you been all my life?

“I’m falling in love with you girl, I feel like you were meant to find me.”

Tracy added: “I’m still in shock that Ernest proposed, I didn’t see it coming at all but I love him so obviously I said, ‘Yes'.

“He’s writing a book about how child abuse can turn people into serial killers based on his own experience. And he’s even mentioning me in a few chapters.

“People always ask me if I’m scared at the thought of what he could do to me. But I’m not scared of Ernest at all – I love him.”

Smith has written a book about his life called Against The Current.

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