Swedish woman fell in love with a death-row killer Benjamin Ritchie

A woman has revealed the moment she fell for a death-row inmate, before spiralling into a life of drugs.

Benjamin Ritchie was driving a stolen van in 2000 when a police officer saw him and gave chase. After wrecking the van, Ritchie fired five shots. One of the bullets killed the cop.

Ritchie was convicted and sentenced to death and, until his execution could be scheduled, held in an Indiana state prison.

While living on death row, Ritchie appeared in a YouTube documentary, where he caught the eye of Ivana, then 24,

She decided to write to him and from there, romance blossomed. Before long, she decided to fly from her home in Sweden to the US to meet Ritchie.

The pair met more than 10 times and fell in love. They have now been together for four years.

Ivana describes Ritchie as funny and positive.

“Every time I went to see him we had a week scheduled so we could have visits for the whole week,” she told Soft White Underbelly.

“Because I was an overseas visitor, I was allowed to spend the entire day until 4pm with him.”

Ivana, now 31, was 24 when she met Ritchie. She said the moment she first looked into his eyes, she felt like she wanted to be with him forever.

“I couldn’t imagine a life without him,” she said. “It was either be with him or die with him.”

Ivana, who was born in Bosnia before her family relocated to Sweden, was no stranger to the prison system prior to meeting Ritchie. Her own father spent time in jail during her youth.

Ivana said the entire time the couple were talking, there was a plan to break him out, with the young woman told to hijack a helicopter.

They made the plan using secret messages and a hidden mobile phone, which she said was “amazing” as it meant they got to talk all the time.

Ivana knew the pair could never have a family but admitted that, in her mind, the pair would spend a week together free before being found, and possibly killed, by the police.

“In the end, he told me he didn’t want to risk my life so he could get out,” she said. “That’s when I went crazy because my whole plan for my life was to be with him.

“When he told me that, I started doing opiates. I got a taste for the opiates when I had surgery and I continued. I met a drug dealer who dealt heroin and that was much cheaper than the pills I was taking.”

She started dating a man to get access to his drugs, with the pair together for two years until he cleaned his life up and quit selling drugs.

Unwilling to quit herself, Ivana sought out her own drug contacts and tried to sell to keep up her own habit. But when people wouldn’t pay her, she ran out of money and drugs.

Ivana’s life continued to fall into turmoil until she fell pregnant with her daughter Iris, who she says changed her life and helped her “get her life together”. She’s now clean and sober.

She said she can’t look Ritchie up to see if he is still alive because it takes her back to the time they were together, and all of the feelings she had.

Ivana said she knew deep down their relationship could never work out but she loved him. She wanted to die next to him.

“That’s why I can’t look him up – I promised I would be there [for his execution],” she said, adding her biggest problem in life was that she followed her heart and not her brain.

But now said she is focused on raising Iris and giving her everything she deserves.

Ivana said to this day she’s never met a guy like Ritchie.

Ritchie remains on death row.

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