Mr. Wrong: Sarah

Jailhouse Romance

"I've been married three times, and all of them are men in prison. The biggest and the baddest guys really turn me on," says 29-

year-old Sarah, who has two daughters. She says that her first husband served two years in prison for identity theft and forgery. Her second husband was in for nine years for receiving stolen property, and her current husband, Willie, is serving 26 years to life for murder. "My husband is inmate number J73764. Willie will be up for parole in the year 2020, if he behaves," she says. "He looks very intimidating. Some consider him a monster, and I absolutely love that about him. It excites me."

 

When Sarah met her first husband, they were arrested for writing bad checks. "When we went into the court for sentencing, we got married in the courtroom. The judge who sentenced us married us. This was my first jailhouse marriage," she recalls. "When I was in jail, I realized that I could lose my babies forever if I don't do the right thing. I took parenting classes. I divorced my first husband because I knew he would be bad for me, and I got my kids back."

 

Sarah cleaned up her life, but the bad boys still intrigued her. "There was one thing that I just couldn't kick the habit of: men in prison," she shares. The next man she met started writing her from prison. "We got married over the phone. It wasn't even a ceremony. We got divorced."

 

Sarah connected with Willie when he wrote her a letter. "My third marriage was actually, like, a beautiful wedding. I walked down the aisle for the first time," she says.

In order to see Willie, she visits him behind bars, and says that she has no problem taking her

girls with her for a visit. "We have to take our belts off, show our pockets, go through a metal detector. It takes a long time to get behind those walls to actually see him. Bringing my kids to prison and being searched for drugs is just a routine we have," she explains. "My kids love Willie. They love to sit on his lap, and they talk to him. They play with him. My kids might be exposed to criminals in there, but it's beautiful to me because it's us and Willie and no one else matters."

 

Her daughters relate their experience. "The first thing we do when we see Daddy Willie is give him a hug when he comes out," they say. 

Karen, Sarah's mom, says she feels responsible for how Sarah's life turned out. "My first husband was somewhat of a bad character, so maybe that's where that came from," she says. "My greatest fear would be that

my grandchildren would grow up to marry someone in prison ... They're seeing their mom visit this man in prison, and that's not a normal relationship."

 

Sarah is puzzled by her attraction to men on the inside. "Every father figure my children have had has been in and out of prison," she reveals.

"So what's the intrigue here?" Dr. Phil asks Sarah.

"I don't know. They're just the type of men that I like," she says.


"What do you know about [Willie]?" Dr. Phil probes.

"I know a lot about him," Sarah says. "I know he believes in God, and that's important to me. That's part of the reason I married him, because I look for men on the outside, and none of them have that religious belief that he has, so that attracts me to him. And he loves me. He treats me and my kids good." She says that she never has been able to maintain a relationship with a man on the outside. "It's better for me to have at least one husband, who may be in there, than for my kids to see many
different men." 

 

"Do you worry about taking your children into this prison environment and exposing them to this?" Dr. Phil asks.

"No," Sarah says. "We don't have arguments in front of my children. He doesn't beat me. He's not mean to my kids. I think it's better for my children just to have me raise them."

"The fact that, 'He's not home, so he can beat me,' doesn't seem like much of a recipe for a father figure," Dr. Phil says.

Dr. Phil asks Karen, "What do you think about this?"

"Well, this is not my ideal man for my daughter. I love her. I'll stand behind her, but I would love her to have a normal relationship," she says.

 

Dr. Phil addresses Sarah. "You say you don't do well with men on the outside. How are you going to do with him on the outside?" he asks, noting that Willie may be released in 2020.


"I'm really worried about that," she says. "I am worried that when he does come home that I am going to be the one who leaves the relationship."

"Have you thought about just not being in a relationship?" Dr. Phil probes.

"I'm happy that way too," Sarah says. "But at the same time, I do get lonely, emotionally, sometimes."