Prisoner of Love

What's a nice British tourist doing on our death row?

By Frank Rubino
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 8 | Posted May. 14, 2008

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Un-bridaled enthusiasm: Young stands by her man��--at least metaphorically. (Photograph by Michael Persico)

She isn't Demi Moore, but at 45, Linda Young has winning traits nonetheless. She's blond and attractive. She's agreeable and quick to laugh. She's witty and articulate. Her Irish lilt is lovely.

You can understand why an unattached middle-aged guy might take an interest in her.

Young's interest in Herbert Blakeney--whom she more or less married last month--is more of a head-scratcher.

The 42-year-old Blakeney, a retired Philly cop's son, is on death row at the state correctional institution in Greene County (SCI Greene). A jury put him there after convicting him of slaying his 14-month-old stepson eight years ago.

"This is a guy who took a knife to an infant's throat," says Dauphin County district attorney Ed Marsico, who prosecuted Blakeney in 2002.

Young, a native of Northern Ireland who now lives in Yorkshire, England, realizes most people think she's lost her mind.

"Years ago I would've thought the same thing," she says on an early May afternoon while relaxing on a leather couch in the Upper Darby apartment of Blakeney's nephew.

But that was before she saw a British TV documentary about American death row inmates in 2004 and subsequently became Blakeney's pen pal. Before she fell in love with him. Before she flew over to meet him at SCI Greene in southwestern Pennsylvania.

And before she researched his conviction, which she contends is full of holes.

"Herbert could not have killed the baby," she says. "It isn't possible."

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which affirmed Blakeney's death sentence on May 1, disagrees.

This doesn't faze Young. Nor does the realization that she might never touch the man she considers her husband.

"Our relationship isn't based on the physical," she says. "It's based on our feelings and our thoughts and what we like and what we can share."

For now, they're sharing a condemned man's cell, at least psychologically.

"I feel like I'm right there with him," says Young, just back from a week of daylong non-contact visits to death row, which she describes as "terrifying," though not terrifying enough to shake her commitment to Blakeney.

In days she'll return to England, where her first order of business will be legally changing her name to his.

Young couldn't officially marry Blakeney last month since Pennsylvania law requires that both partners in a prospective marriage appear before whatever authority they're seeking the licenses from. Blakeney, for obvious reasons, couldn't make it to the Greene County clerk of courts office. And officials from that office don't travel to SCI Greene.

"We don't have to," says county clerk Shirley Stockdale.

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Comments 1 - 8 of 8
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1. Bill said... on May 13, 2008 at 09:46PM

“She is a total joke, albit a sick one at that. Looking for her 15 minutes of fame and a way to make a buck. There are a bunch of books out there about this sort of relationship and why people get into them. Some article need to be done on that also.”

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2. chad said... on May 13, 2008 at 09:52PM

“stupid ugly cow.”

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3. Bill said... on May 14, 2008 at 05:03AM

“The more I have thought about this article the more disgusted I have become. My family has lived in Philadelphia since the 1700's and I am embarrassed that any paper would put this "story" on the pages.”

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4. Shantia said... on May 19, 2008 at 08:35AM

“Linda reminds me of so many other naive woman in the world. She allowed this man to manipulate her and cloud her brain. He's led her to believe that he's an innocent man and I do believe he is using her. From her own admittance, she's doing things that she would not usually do or even think of doing. I also believe that this murderer, who may have the gift of gab, has impaired Linda's judgement.”

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5. Moonbeam said... on Jan 22, 2010 at 04:33PM

“There seems to be so many of these women who see themselves as saviours of "poor, badly treated, misunderstood" murderers. I do feel that it's a lack of self esteem that allows these women to sit and wait for each love letter from her "man", who has nothing else to do but write letters and draw pictures and give their full attention.

There is nothing to do with this mans case that could remotely lead to a belief he is innocent.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Mar 23, 2010 at 05:43PM

“Perhaps 'these women' have the education and understanding to see through the sham that is called US justice. Perhaps 'these women' have the brains enough to see through the diabolical lies and miscarriages of justice, prosecutorial misconduct, racism and biased judicial system on which the 'great United States of America' rests. Perhaps 'these women' have heart and faith and clear vision, to see through the vile and barbaric death sentence that is all too frequently given out with no thoughts to the consequences of executing an innocent man. Justice must be seen to be done! And in 'The Great United States of America' it is done regardless of the persons guilt or innocence. Justice is supposed to be served 'so as not to undermine the foundation on which society is built' What could undermine society more than a promise to kill an innocent person by a legal regime. It could happen to any one of you... Or 'those women'...”

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7. armeka mclaughlin said... on Nov 7, 2010 at 12:52PM

“you are a stupid bitch you know nothing about mr.blakeney you just want to be seen you need to stop all these dum ass interviews cause he is not gettin out and dont you every say again that you need to talk to a lawyer before my baby can talk to her dad bitch get a life because you are the reason my baby dont like her dad now oh and stop sayin your gonna meet his kids one day because your not dum white bitch

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8. Anonymous said... on Sep 6, 2012 at 10:49PM

“Vernouski the cop killed 2-3 dogs without justification on 2-3 occasions during his time as an officer and is trigger happy for sure. He should take a polygraph.”


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