AN Essex woman who is engaged to a convicted American killer she has never met now plans to marry him in prison – even though he could be locked up until 2034.

Naomi Wise, 26, from Chelmsford, first met Victor Oquendo, 30, when she searched online for someone to mentor as practice for her counselling course.

The inmate, who is behind bars in Michigan, is serving a minimum of 24 years for double homicide, home invasion and three counts of armed robbery.

But for Naomi, Victor is not just a criminal, he is the man she hopes will be her future husband.

She said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I plan to fall in love with an inmate but it happened and I wouldn’t change it.

Marriage - Naomi lives in Chelmsford, Essex

Marriage - Naomi lives in Chelmsford, Essex

“Victor is the kindest man I have ever met and I know people might judge before knowing the full story but I can’t imagine my life without him.”

The pair started speaking after Naomi’s counselling course was halted in March 2020 by the coronavirus outbreak.

She said: “I had only completed three lessons when Covid hit, so I asked my tutor if there was any way I could still get experience and she suggested volunteering my time with a hotline or a charity.

“Looking online, I found a website through which I could write to a prisoner and figured it would be the perfect place to start – they’ve lived fascinating lives.

His crimes were a lot to take in and I wanted to know how he felt about what he'd done.

“I mentored one man for a few weeks before I got in touch with Victor.”

Naomi chose the Michigan inmate at random by scrolling her mouse on until it landed on his mugshot.

“I wasn’t sure if I should message him at first because, obviously, he’s very attractive,” she admitted.

Inmate - Victor has proposed to Naomi four times

Inmate - Victor has proposed to Naomi four times

Naomi decided to go ahead with her email, which Victor received on a tablet kept in a communal area in prison.

Her first message introduced herself, stating that she was looking to improve her people skills if he would happy to speak to her.

After 12 hours, Victor replied saying that he would love to have someone to talk to.

The pair started to chat back and forth over email, talking about their upbringings and backgrounds.

“I didn’t ask about his crime,’ Naomi said. “But I made it clear that I wouldn’t speak to him if his crime was against women or children.

“He assured me it wasn’t, he said it had been a gang related shooting so, beyond that, I didn’t want to pry into why he was in prison.”

He begged me to let him ring me, and on the phone, he admitted he had feelings for me too.

But, after two weeks, Victor opened up about his convictions.

The 30-year-old committed the offences in 2010 when he was 19-years-old and was sentenced to 24 years in prison for double homicide, home invasion and three counts of armed robbery.

His release date is set for 2034.

Naomi said: “I was shocked. It was a lot to take in and I wanted to know how he felt about what he’d done.

“If he didn’t seem to care that would have been a red flag, but he’s extremely remorseful.

“He told me that he struggles to live with himself and has night terrors most nights.”

Naomi could be 39-years-old by the time Victor is released from prison but she says her age isn’t a concern.

“I’m not a very broody person,” she explained. “If I don’t end up having kids that isn’t an issue.”

The pair began their unusual romance, speaking on the phone to each other up to 20 times a day.

At first it was an adjustment because I was used to having a partner I could see most days.

Inked - Victors initials on Naomis wrist

Inked - Victor's initials on Naomi's wrist

“We swapped pictures and Victor sent me love letters and art in the post,” Naomi said.

“The first was a handwritten letter telling me that he believes we’re more than just a relationship, that it’s a partnership. I replied in agreement.”

Over time the relationship became more serious and Victor proposed to Naomi three times on the phone, but she refused each time.

She said: “I told him he was mad – we hadn’t even met yet and had no idea when we could meet due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus meaning I can’t visit him in prison.”

On September 18, however, Naomi received a large bunch of lilies and roses and a black velvet ring box.

She added: “I opened the note and it was from Victor, asking me to marry him.

“He rang me that day and I was in tears. He finally got a yes.”

Being in love with someone she has never met can be difficult, Naomi admitted.

“It can be tough because we’re physically apart but what keeps us together is that we feel very emotionally connected,” she said.

“Conjugal visits aren’t permitted in Michigan, so it’ll be a long time before we can actually be intimate in person. It’s difficult but it’s worth it if you’ve met the right person.”

Naomi said she's never been a marriage person but Victor has changed that about her.

She said: “We both want me to have his last name and eventually have kids together.”

Fortunately, Naomi can tie the knot with Victor while he is still behind bars.

She said: “A chaplain can marry us in the prison, so we’re planning to do that when visitation is allowed again after the pandemic.

“I’m planning to have my first visit by May or June depending on travel restrictions and then we are hoping to marry in September.”

In the nearer future, she hopes to be able to live closer to Victor’s prison.

She said: “I’m hoping to move over to the US in the next year so I can set up our life, ready for the day he leaves prison.”