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When McNeeley started corresponding with Allgier, her children were either in jail, prison, or busy with their lives. “The kids were my life, then they weren’t there.” She and Allgier exchanged handwritten letters several times a week, his in a volatile scrawl, often over a dozen or more pages, hers in a cramped ballpoint ink.
McNeeley recalls that the first time Allgier saw her when she visited Salt Lake County Jail, he was shocked. “But then he got a kick out of it. He said, ‘You’re 70, you look 40 and act 30.’ ”
When Allgier started giving her assignments, “I was as happy as a lark.” He sent her to TV stations to drop off his letters, and she talked to local reporters outside the courtroom after he had a hearing. At his request, she researched such matters as whether a local university would pay $86,000 for an inmate’s donated testicles. (They wouldn’t.) Allgier told McNeeley to put on 40 pounds, to do exercises, drink protein shakes and take care of herself. “ ‘Skinny women have puny babies,’ ” she recalls him telling her. “ ‘Big women are breeders.’ ”
As they got to know each other, the 40-year-younger Allgier “paid some attention to me, he cared.” She started thriving, she says, putting on a little weight. At the same time, she anguished over his jail diet, which had caused the muscle-proud Allgier to drop 50 pounds. At times, she says, “I couldn’t even eat. He was always hungry. The food stuck in my throat.”
During his almost four years of incarceration in Salt Lake County Jail after the Anderson killing, Allgier was housed in administrative segregation, where inmates who are deemed a security risk or who can’t get along with other prisoners reside. He was allowed out two hours every other day, fully restrained and led around on a leash.
In 2008, McNeeley says, Allgier was cuffed incorrectly, fell and was hurt. “When I came to the visiting window, his fingers were sausages, his knees and toes full of water.” She complained to jailors that Allgier’s painful condition might kill him. He was eventually diagnosed with anglio spondylitis, an arthritic condition she found out required proper nutrition to stave off its effects.
After persistent requests, McNeeley says she saw Salt Lake County Jail Chief Rollin Cook. She asked him if Allgier could have multivitamins. That request, along with others for extra food, was declined. McNeeley says Cook told her Allgier “was the most dangerous man in prison.” A medical officer at the jail asked her why she came to see Allgier. “I shouldn’t have to apologize for unconditional love, should I?” she replied.
McNeeley and Allgier kicked around publicity schemes. They came up with the idea of approaching a national scandal sheet with a story that they were to get married. “70-year-old woman marries Nazi skinhead in prison,” is how McNeeley says she pitched it. Then Allgier changed his mind and in a letter wrote, “Are you delusional?”
Allgier wanted the 72-year-old to tattoo herself “property of Wood,” his preferred nickname, prison slang for a white inmate, but she declined. He wanted people who would “ryde” along with him, be down for him, be unswervingly loyal. But McNeeley did “just the opposite, just to piss me off,” she recalls him writing.
"Now I Know You Love Me”
In June 2010, Desiree Wheelwright gave birth two months prematurely to an infant girl with undeveloped lungs. McNeeley remembers her daughter’s sadness as she looked down at the baby who lived only a few hours. Several months later, Desiree told Julia Wheelwright, “I feel like my daughter is calling me home,” Julia recalls. A few weeks later, Desiree hanged herself.
Photographs of Desiree dominate a small table in McNeeley’s living room. “Maybe I should have paid more attention to her,” McNeeley says. “We would have been closer if I hadn’t been going down to see Curtis. I had a little separate life outside of the kids. They were not used to that. They always had my undivided attention.”
McNeeley suffered another loss months later, when, after years of being Allgier’s Girl Friday, as McNeeley calls herself, he turned his attention to a new woman. Allgier wanted the woman to build a Facebook page for him. McNeeley was devastated. “I knew [the new follower] was going to cut in on my [jail visiting] time, but what was hurtful was he put all his energies into her. He didn’t ask me to do anything. Not one thing, not one assignment. I was outsourced!”
Allgier, in subsequent letters, railed at her for running off female admirers by complaining to them about the tragedies in her own life. “She don’t want to share the WOOD, no female is good enough. ...” he wrote to City Weekly. “They all tend to get stupid and fuck up when your not in their face and ear all the time!”
McNeeley found his criticism disturbing. “It bothered me he thought low of me. ‘What you see is what you get,’ I told him. I wear my feelings on my sleeve.”
He wrote to her in belligerent terms. “Your age means nothing! Look where you are, what you got. Obviously, you did it all wrong. And instead of brushing it off, warrioring up and refusing to lose, you live in poverty, with no ambition to do better, rise above, over come, conqure, persevere and prevail at any and all costs! And you have the audacity to question me, disrespect me, doubt me?”
In a letter to City Weekly, Allgier claims 648 women have asked to marry him, and over 3,000 have written to him. “I had a few I loved, one from Arizona especially, one from Canada, a New York ryder, one from Florida.” He writes he’s seeking “a tru Aryan goddess.”
After one particularly brutal letter, where he viciously insulted McNeeley’s womanhood, “I cried and cried and cried for days and days.” A doctor prescribed her antidepressants, but they left her almost unable to walk. She wrote back to Allgier, making derogatory comments about some of his women, friends and foes.
Finally, she started going back to jail to visit him. Allgier complained that food in administrative segregation was provided in smaller portions than the rest of the jail. “He wanted to fix it for himself and the others in maximum security to be fed better,” she says. “He became an advocate for them.” A jail spokesman, however, says inmates throughout the lockup receive the same portions.
During one recent visit, a guard told her Allgier was being transferred to the state prison in Draper. While that might have been good news for Allgier, who complains he was taunted and tormented by guards during his years in the Salt Lake County Jail, it was devastating for McNeeley, who does not own a car.
“Curtis, they’re moving you,” she told him through tears. “I’ll never get to see you.”
In a letter he wrote after that visit, Allgier expressed his gratitude for her tears. “Now I know you love me,” he wrote.
In McNeeley’s small kitchen, where the only glasses are old jars, the letters she has kept from her inmate correspondents fill boxes and large plastic bags. “I’m a woman buried by inmate mail,” she says.
An auction sign outside her home reminds her, however, that she may well have to find somewhere else to live shortly if the property’s new owners decide to discontinue renting it to her.