“This was very difficult for him to write. He really had an issue with writing about the point where I left him for dead. Due to this, he said he couldn’t write everything he feels, at least not now because the pain is too fresh”.
The music was loud on the cellblock, the racket was so normal, that any seasoned inmate has the ability to tune out the noise. At this point in my life, I had already been in prison for 5 years, so I had no issue reading my book during the regular chaos. My cell was #17 out of 40 cells on the prison tier. I was in the middle but even through all the loud music and noise, I heard a woman’s voice, “female walking on the company”. In prison, when a woman is on the cell block, they will announce their presence so the men know to be dressed appropriately. Mrs. Scott was my inmate counselor and once every three months she called me into her office to check on my progress with my programs and such. When Mrs. Scott stopped in front of my cell it was a little bit of a shock. However, the message she was about to deliver was one I never saw coming. This message would change my life. After a quick greeting, Mrs. Scott told me a friend from my past had called her and wanted to come visit me. I was excited and told Mrs. Scott to please tell her to come. Mrs. Scott gave me such a scare because she said she wasn’t sure if she had kept her number, but god was on my side and she would make it up to see me. When she left from in front of my cell I laid back in my bed, my book forgotten and drifted back in time.
The year was 1991 and I had been sent to Saint James out on Long Island to live with my Grandmother. I had been getting into trouble in my old neighborhood, so they all decided I needed to go live with Grandma. Smithtown High School was located in a middle to upper class area in Long Island, and I was coming from a different world. When I walked into Smithtown High School I swear everyone was looking at me like I was from outer space. I had my leather 8 ball jacket on and my Nike Air Max’s which matched my jacket. I don’t think they had ever seen anything like me. I had a cousin who went to the school and I knew a couple of the girls who had ridden horses at my family’s horse farm, but I didn’t have any friends yet. I have always been a people person, so I started making friends quickly. Plus, I was already in the drug game so I became popular real fast. Sadly, at this time I was more interested in making drug sales, instead of going to class. The school had an area called the commons where kids could smoke cigarettes and hangout when they didn’t go to classes. This was my area because it was the best place to make money in the school. One day I was out in the commons area and a kid named Tom was introducing me to people and teaching me the ropes of the school. He introduced me to a group on girls. One of the girls was a cute brown-haired, brown-eyed girl. She had her pinch-rolled pants on and a pull over and when I looked at her she gave me the cutest smile in the world. This was the girl who was due to show-up on the visit the next day. . .
Here I was, sitting in my cell in a maximum security prison convicted of a drug related murder and I was waiting for the hours to pass so I could see the woman I first met as a little girl. My life in prison was crazy because of the violence that was a part of my every day, but the mention of her name allowed me to travel back in time in my cell. I drifted back to my youth and my memories of her. There was always something different about her. She had this innocence. She was a good girl and I was a “bad boy”, but I could talk to her about anything. I had respect for her because she wasn’t like the other girls in my life who I never respected. She would come with me and the boys when we would go surfing and she would sit on the beach and watch us surf for hours, even as late as November when we needed dry suits because it was so cold. She would come to the different Raves with me, we went everywhere. She was a good girl though. Never one who was into drugs and she wasn’t one of the other girls who were spreading their legs for everyone. She had too much respect for herself to be like the other girls. I was very protective over her and kept her close so she stayed innocent.
I was a wild kid. I was selling drugs and getting involved in all sorts of nonsense. I called my princess one night and told her that me and a few of the boys were going on a “surfing trip”. A few minutes later I got into a stolen car loaded with drugs and surfboards, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course I left out all the illegal details when I called her. She made me promise to stop by her house. I promised her I would and this would be one promise I didn’t keep. I ended up getting locked up in Florida and when I got out, she was the only person from home I was speaking to. She made me Christmas cookies with her mom and sent them to me. One of the cookies she “thinks” put a small crack on my back molar, but I told her I ate all of them (even though they were horrible) because she made them for me and they were delicious! 😉 I was still wild and I needed to come home. I liked Florida, but I have always been a New York boy. My mother (my aunt who raised me) came down to Florida to bring me home, but it wasn’t going to be peaches and cream upon my return. As usual, the law had questions for me. Sadly, this would be a recurring theme in my life until one day, a judge would match my age with the time of my sentence he would eventually hand me.
I came home and the game plan was for me to turn myself in for the things I was wanted for and to get my young life back on track. Now you must understand that turning myself in to voluntarily be put in a cage sounds easy in theory, but I was a free spirit and couldn’t do it.
I was sitting in my cell and at that moment in time, I started to play the “what if” game. The what if game will drive anyone locked in a 9′ 12′ cell crazy if you allow it. I thought if I would have just turned myself in my life may have played out differently. But the reality was, I didn’t, and I played the cards I was dealt. I needed to return to my happy place I could only find in my daydreams.
I decided against turning myself in and I eventually returned to the streets where my reputation was becoming legendary. As usual, the law was looking for me because of some of the things I had done. My princess and I still spoke on a regular basis at this time, even though I wasn’t living near her anymore. I had run to one of my family’s horse farms in East Hampton. I knew the police wouldn’t catch me there and whoever was looking for me would never show up in the Hampton’s.
My Grandfather is a world-famous equestrian. I had been on the back of a horse before I was able to fully walk. I was riding against olympic greats at 13, so I knew about horses and how to train them. The work on the farm was hard, but I knew it. I would call my princess and we would talk about everything under the sun. I wanted to see her so I invited her to come out and spend the weekend with me. We never even kissed other than little pecks. She was such a good girl and I was a young criminal. Her mother spoke to my aunt and uncle and her aunt drove her out to stay with me. Her mother liked me. Most mothers did. I was very polite and came from a very well-known family, but I was a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. My princess arrived on a Friday afternoon. Most girls loved horses, but she wasn’t one of them. But she pretended to like them because she liked me. I was staying in a little camper we had on the property and after I was done with everything I had to do for the day, we went back to the camper. I made us something to eat and we just hung out until we fell asleep together. I was a perfect gentleman on her first night. The second night, we were in the bed and we started to kiss and our kisses were different than I had experienced because they were soft and gentle. We explored each other’s bodies with our hands as we kissed. I was experienced but I could tell she wasn’t. I asked her if she was a virgin and she told me she wasn’t. She was so cute, looking right into my eyes, while lying to me. I always knew she was a virgin, even when she swore she wasn’t. I cared about her. She wasn’t like the other girls and I didn’t want to take her virginity. I didn’t think I was the right person for her because she was a good girl and I was nothing but trouble. We did other things, but I made certain she would return the way her aunt had dropped her off. And she did. . .she left the next day.
I had eventually left the Hampton’s and was back in the streets shortly after our weekend together. We still talked on the phone, but our calls started to slow down because I was so involved in the streets and building a drug empire. One night after I had been clubbing all night long, I stopped at a Diner in Smithtown. I hadn’t been over there in a long time. I had a car load of girls I was bringing home and I came into the Diner by myself to get a take out order and there she was, in the Diner. I was so messed up, I didn’t even talk to her. She was never a party girl and I was strung out at the time so I gave her a half grin and got into my car and left with my club whores who cared more about who I was and what I could give them, than the real me. The real me was so far buried that he may have no longer existed.
That was the last time I had seen her as a free man. And now I would see her as an inmate housed in a Maximum Security Prison in Upstate New York. My blonde surfer cut was replaced with long brown hair I mostly kept in braids. I was no longer the young boy she once knew. I had seen and been involved in too much. I was nervous to see this woman and I couldn’t figure out what she could possibly want with me. After all, I was locked into a choice I had made a long time ago. Jeff DeLeyer was no longer alive, I was now known as Dutch. I made it through the night and even managed to sleep some. Early in the morning I was informed I had a visit. I shaved, took a shower and I went down to the visit room. As soon as I walked through the door I saw her. She looked beautiful. She was very cute as a young woman, but as a grown woman she was breathtaking. I saw her, but she looked right through me because she was waiting for someone and I wasn’t him. I went to the officer’s station and checked in. I wasn’t as handsome as I was as a kid, so I had to make up for it with my charm. I put a little extra bop in my step and I made my way over to the table. When I was standing over her I asked, “are you looking for someone?” She looked at me and after she erased the years of hard living off my face she found who she had come to see. She was speechless and covered her mouth in shock.
I sat down and we started to talk. It was obvious to me she was uncomfortable. The cute innocence that I knew of this girl was now guarded and on edge. After all, she was sitting in a maximum security prison with a man she hadn’t seen in years. I needed to turn on the charm and bring her back to a time and a boy she once knew. So I showed her a cracked molar that I told her had happened due to the hard ass horrible Christmas cookies she had sent to me while I was in Florida. I was smiling at her and flirting with her. All of this managed to relax her. With my princess more comfortable she managed to open up to me about her life and the things she had been through.. She had a life I would’ve thought most women wished for, but I could tell she wasn’t happy. She told me about her kids and that she was married. I could see the giant rock on her finger. She was well put together and taken care of, but happiness cannot be purchased at Bloomingdale’s. I was listening to the words coming out of her mouth but I was having trouble focusing because she was so beautiful. The little girl I remembered was now a grown woman with curves in all the right places. Every time she got up to go to the bathroom, I used those moments to gawk like a young boy. After I made her more comfortable, the conversation was great, but I could tell she was holding back. When the officers announced they would be taking pictures I was excited. I wanted to take a picture with her because she was so beautiful and when I got back to the compound I would be able to show my boys. She gave me a half-hearted argument that I won. (I didn’t know then, but this would be the last argument I would ever be allowed to win) We had a great time on our visit, or at least I did. In or out of prison, it is always nice to hang out with this beautiful woman. The end of the visit came too fast and when it did, I gave her a hug and thanked her for coming to see me. She said she would come again. . .I was floating on a cloud when I left the visit. The feeling was so strong that it didn’t even bother me when I got strip searched by the officer on the way out. (all inmates get strip searched after visits)
I went to the prison yard and showed my photo to all of my boys. In prison, it always feels good when someone cares enough to take the time out of their day to go through the hassle it takes to visit an inmate. That night, I went to sleep with her on my mind.
The next day I had 3 people come to visit me that were scheduled to come and speak to me about my affairs. In the morning I got ready once again to go to the visit and I was called at 9am as soon as the visit opened. When I walked into the visiting room I was shocked as to who I saw. Once again, there was an angel sitting on the visit waiting for me. I checked in once again and made my way to the table she was sitting at. I looked at her and said “what are you doing here?” She told me she needed to see me. It was nice to feel needed. I could feel she was getting all of the heavy issues off of her chest about her life and her problems. I was listening and taking everything in that she was saying. She wasn’t happy and it made me upset that she wasn’t happy. I had known this woman as a young girl, she was always a good girl. Why wasn’t she happy? I could tell she wanted something more out of life, I just didn’t know what she wanted from me, so I asked her, “what do you want from me?” She looked me in the eyes and told me how she has loved me since she was a little girl and how she has thought of me every single day. I was floored. In front of me sat a beautiful woman who was so good, better than a man like me deserved and she was telling me she loved me. I had plenty of girls tell me they loved me, but that was never real. But this? This was different. She was different and when she told me this it just all seemed like this is how it was meant to be, this is how we were meant to be. I was happy and was trying to just process everything that just happened and began to wonder where do we go from here? I looked up and my other visitors were here. One of the visitors had to wait outside, because you’re only allowed 3 adults visitors per visit so she left. I believe by this point she was happy to escape because she just poured her heart and soul out to me and she was nervous. I was nervous as well because she was so special and I was so unworthy. Although she left and I had visitors, I couldn’t stop thinking about her.
I was head over heels in love with her and our relationship grew. When she walked into a room, I was unable to see anyone but her. I immediately stopped speaking to the other women I was dealing with. I had never been faithful to another woman, but with her it was different. She completed me. I had a fucked up childhood and I suppressed a lot of my stuff because I lived in a world where I had to be tough and feared, but she had me open up to her. I had never done this with anyone before. I was a broken man, but my princess made me want to be better.
I was very caught up in my prison life and I was in some of the most notorious prisons in New York State. At the time I was a young man with a lot of time on my hands and I was getting into a lot of trouble. I was getting kicked out of prisons because I was starting a lot of problems. It takes a special kind of trouble to get kicked out of Maximum Security Prisons. But I loved her, in the only way I was capable. But I truly didn’t know how to love her in the way she needed. She was a good girl and I tried to turn her into someone else and she just wasn’t that girl. I let her know too much because I never wanted to lie to her, but I didn’t see I was pushing her away. I loved her and thought this was enough. One day she came to see me and I was handcuffed and shackled because I was in segregation. She came on the visit and told me she had gone on a date with a man. I was heartbroken but refused to show it, I was just cold and distant. I understood that her life was difficult and she was a beautiful woman, men wanted, but I never thought I would lose her. She promised me it would never happen again and I believed her because I trusted her.
I didn’t even see the signs then. That was the last time I ever saw her. We talked on the phone for a while after that and she gave me different excuses as to why she couldn’t make it and I was still so blinded by the fact that she was finding comfort in the arms of another man. One day on the phone she told me I should marry one of the boys in prison because I always chose them over her. I was crushed but even then I still didn’t believe it. She eventually cut off the phone and it started to sink in. . .she was gone.
I became extremely violent and I took out my pain on the men I was getting into my confrontations with. I waited 3 years before I gave up on her coming back to me. When I started going on visits with other women it just wasn’t the same because none of them were her. I was trying to replace her, but I couldn’t no matter how hard I tried. I reflected many nights in my cell, I replayed every mistake I had made with her. Not being with her made me learn how I needed to love a woman because I had never loved anyone truly so I was blind. I tried to replace her but I kept trying to force the glass slipper on the wrong feet.
I was painting and found enjoyment in this but I missed her so much and I thought about her every single day. See, she believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I believed I had to be a Gangster because I felt like it was my path and I was locked in. But when I started painting and when I enrolled in college, I was taking classes that were showing me I could be more. But I was still trapped between two worlds, and I wasn’t happy. I now knew that I would never find what I had with her with any other woman. I started painting because I wanted to be remembered for more than my Criminal Record. I was trying to change my life, but it’s difficult in prison for a man like me because I had created so many enemies who wanted to kill me. I started getting really depressed because the only things that worked out for me were bad things. A cell is an evil place when you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
I thought about her every day because she was the love of my life. I have always known she deserved more though than I was capable of giving. I thought about ending my life. I had enough. I was an artist but couldn’t sell my work due to being in prison. I couldn’t have the only woman I ever loved in my life. I was just done. I decided I was going to end my pain. I compiled a body of my art work and I decided to write my book “From Handguns to Paint Brushes”, how art changed my life. The game plan was, once my story was told I would send everything home to my family and I would then take my life. I didn’t want to be a burden to my people anymore. I started writing my book and it helped me see things and it was making me feel better but I still wasn’t ok because what was life without love? I loved to paint and I truly believed art had the power to change people’s lives, but I was still very unhappy and lonely. I felt like perhaps I was unworthy of love, because the only woman I ever truly loved didn’t want me. I was sitting in my cell ready to end it all and the mailman dropped a letter with a handwriting I knew, even though I hadn’t seen it in 10 years. The letter gave me hope, a hope I hadn’t felt in years. The love of my life was back, and even though her letter didn’t say anything good, I knew if I could just talk to her and what we had was real for her even a little bit, I would be ok.
We have a type of love that is different from other people’s love. I truly believe this. She is my angel, the love of my life and my best friend. She is my everything. When she wrote our story on her blog I was afraid for her because I didn’t think anyone would understand due to my situation. Although our relationship may not be ideal, I just can’t live without her. I prayed to God every night and asked him to please give her back to me. I was losing my faith but God decided I needed to go through the wringer before he granted me what I wanted and needed.
We argue all the time, but this is us. . .and we both know now that our lives aren’t going to be easy, but we also know we can’t live without each other. We may not always like each other but we always love one another. I believe there is a special person made for each of us, but sadly, many never find this person. I did. She is the love of my life, she is the one. . .She has always been the one.
I want to thank you ladies for reading our story and for the support you’re giving my princess. I hope each and every one of you finds true love and happiness.
Joseph DeLeyer better known as Jeff Deleyer