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Allgier’s isn’t the only name that clutters her postbox. She has corresponded with numerous inmates, sending them free trial subscriptions of magazines she believes they will find interesting or cuttings of stories from the papers. She sent a four-month trial of Psychology Today to Allgier’s cell block neighbor, Paul Payne, with whom she began corresponding by accident. Payne had written a letter to the family of an inmate who, he wrote, had killed himself after being cut off from his medications by the prison, but sent it to McNeeley’s address by mistake.
Payne went into prison when he was 16 and has now spent 21 years behind bars. In a letter to City Weekly, Payne wrote that the maximum-security cell block “breeds hate, misanthropy and it’s difficult not to succumb! I mean, these units are where the worst guards and inmates are placed, and the mentally ill.”
When McNeeley wrote to inform him of his mistake, they became friends. “Sometimes you feel like you’re slipping into darkness and our paths crossed at an important time for me, and fortunately she reached out because I was pretty sure the world was full of either simple or crude, evil people,” Payne writes. “It’s just reinvigorating to meet a kind, caring person who’s not looking for gain.”
Out of all of her prison pen pals, Allgier “is probably the most memorable person I’ll ever meet in my life,” McNeeley says, just because of who he is, the way he thinks, “the fuhrer-king,” as he calls himself. And then she laughs. “I don’t even know what fuhrer means.”
Allgier wants to have a positive impact on McNeeley. “I hope to enlighten her and empower her, to build confidence and security! There is a lot of potential, if only she will get the stubborn bullshit attitude in check, you have to listen to and follow a leader, you have to want to change, to get better.”
McNeeley loves unconditionally, whether it’s her children, no matter how far they fall, or Allgier, no matter how much he hurts her. While she fears “he ruined his life with all his tattoos, sealing his doom,” she yearns for forgiveness, even redemption for Stephen Anderson’s alleged killer. “That’s my hope for Curtis,” she says. But forgiveness, Anderson’s brother David says, “doesn’t mean people aren’t held responsible for their wrongdoings.”
In September, she wrote several notes to Allgier, which he sent to City Weekly. He writes that these letters confirm “how she loves, worships, adores me!” While McNeeley, he continues, has many faults, “the lady is in love with me, cares for me, and that’s what I get … it feels good to be able to be so much for her.” But, he adds, she has to share him with others.
Those notes show McNeeley firmly with her heart on her threadbare sleeve. “You’ve taught me so much and given me valuable tools for the last part of my earthly journey,” she wrote. Providence had brought them together, she continued in the second note. “This is a lifetime deal for me. I will plight your cause against all odds.” She was stronger now, thanks to him, she wrote, signing off,
“Love and fidelity.
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