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After many letters back and forth and hours of conversation over the phone, Melinda and Jesse James Hollywood met in person for the first time in June 2013

Courtesy Melinda Hollywood

After many letters back and forth and hours of conversation over the phone, Melinda and Jesse James Hollywood met in person for the first time in June 2013


Meet Mrs. Jesse James Hollywood

The New Bride Talks About Marrying a Man on the Inside


Originally published 12:00 p.m., February 4, 2014
Updated 3:00 p.m., February 4, 2014
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Jesse James Hollywood has tied the knot. The 34-year-old high-profile convict — sentenced by a Santa Barbara jury to life in prison without parole for organizing the kidnap and murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz over a drug debt in 2000 — married Melinda Enos during a small ceremony at Calapatria State Prison on January 19. Hollywood’s crime, five-year stint as a fugitive, and eventual arrest in Brazil have grabbed national headlines on and off for more than a decade, and the events leading up to Markowitz’s death were detailed in the 2006 film Alpha Dog. (For full coverage of Hollywood’s trial, go here.)

Melinda, who took Hollywood’s last name, offered The Santa Barbara Independent an exclusive interview Monday afternoon about their recent nuptials. With her husband’s blessing, she talked about their relationship, the challenges of dating then marrying someone behind bars, and how Hollywood is not the monster the courts and media have made him out to be. What follows is an edited version of our lengthy conservation.

Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? I was born and raised in Hawaii and moved to Oakland about 10 years ago. Now, I live in Orange County and work in health insurance.

When did you first contact Jesse? What made you want to get to know him? I sent Jesse a letter in March of last year because I had heard about everything that was going on with his case, and I wanted him to know I was supporting him. I wanted him to know that I thought he got a raw deal and that I was there for him. We started writing letters to each other all the time then talking on the phone for hours.

How did you hear about his case? I remember seeing it on Dateline NBC. I also heard about it on America’s Most Wanted when he was on the run and then when he was captured — I saw an interview with Marcia [the mother of his son] in Brazil. Jesse was in County Jail for five years, so it was hard to contact him there. He was only transferred to prison a few years ago, and it took a lot of time for him to get in the mail system.

When did your relationship turn romantic? When we met in June for the first time, we started falling for each other. I guess you could say it was love at first sight. We talked about each others’ lives, our childhoods. He talked about growing up playing baseball and everything about his family. I wanted him to know about me, too. I wanted him to know I’m not a crazy person! [Laughs.]

Jesse James Hollywood leaving the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse (May 2009)
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman (file)

Jesse James Hollywood leaving the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse (May 2009)

Have you been in a relationship with a prisoner before? No.

Have you ever been to prison? [Laughs.] No.

Have you ever been married? Do you have any kids? This is the first marriage for both of us. I have a 19-year-old daughter in college.

How old are you? [Laughs.] I don’t want to tell you.

Okay. How does your daughter feel about the marriage? What have other family and friends said? My daughter has been very supportive, and I’m looking forward to her meeting Jesse when she gets home from school. Everyone has been really supportive of us because they know how much I love and care for Jesse.

What was your first visit with Jesse like? Well, it took me more than 10 weeks to get approved for visitations. When I finally did, it took nine hours to drive from Oakland to Calapatria. I’ve visited him every weekend since then and stay in a motel nearby. It’s a much shorter drive from Orange County, like two or three hours. The prison is in the middle of nowhere, and it’s really hot. And it smells really bad because there are cows and slaughterhouses all around there.

I was late for our first visit because when I got there they made me change my skirt — I went to a trailer and changed into pants they had. During visits, you’re allowed a brief hug and kiss at the beginning and at the end, and you can hold hands the whole time. The appointments are on Saturdays and go from 8:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. We like to buy food and drinks from the vending machines that he doesn’t normally get.

Is it hard to not show your affection more than that? No, because we don’t want to break the rules and get kicked out. He’s a model prisoner, so I want to be a model visitor.

What about Jesse attracts you? Were you drawn by his celebrity? No. It’s not like I wrote to Scott Peterson or something. Jesse’s very honest and heartfelt, and he’s very loving toward me. He’s very personable and tells me everything I need to know. If I ask a question, he’ll tell me everything. He doesn’t bullshit like a lot of people do. Jesse is such a different person than what people think. He’s been judged very bad, and people don’t know who he really is. If people did know him, they would fall in love with him like I did.

He’s been tried and convicted for a very brutal crime. Does that bother you? I think he got railroaded in his trial, and his life sentence is unfair. I mean, they got the guy who pulled the trigger. He sent me everything he had from the court hearings. I read it. It makes you think. I know that a lot of the things put out there are not accurate and true, so I did a lot of research. Also, they put out [Alpha Dog] before they went to trial, and the DA helped make it. The DA should never have been involved. I think pretty much all the jurors watched the movie and based their opinion on that. It wasn’t fair to Jesse.

What did you think of Jesse’s character in Alpha Dog? How did Emile Hirsch do? I like Emile Hirsch. He’s a good actor, but his character was really bad. They made Jesse the mastermind, but he wasn’t. I believe in the transcripts, Ryan Hoyt [the shooter] never said Jesse ordered him to do it.

Does Jesse ever talk about the victim, Nicholas Markowitz? He feels remorseful. We talk about it. He’s writing a book about the case and when he was on the run, and he wants to give half of the proceeds to a foundation to keep kids out of trouble. There’s nothing like that out there for Nick’s memory. He wants to put the proceeds to good use — he’s not being greedy and keeping it for himself. His aunt is helping him type it up.

Are you close with his family? Yes! They love me and are so happy for us. I spent Thanksgiving with them because they knew I would be in the motel all by myself after visiting Jesse; and they always ask me to text when I get home. Everyone can just tell we’re so in love.

Have any of your family members met Jesse? No, it’s such a long drive, and it’s so hot, I don’t want to subject them to that.

Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James Hollywood on their wedding day (front) accompanied by the maid of honor and best man
Click to enlarge photo

Courtesy Melinda Hollywood

Mr. and Mrs. Jesse James Hollywood on their wedding day (front) accompanied by the maid of honor and best man

Talk to me about your wedding day. How did it go? Who was there? It was the best ceremony [at the prison] ever! A lot of people were talking about it. We saw other weddings at the prison, and they didn’t seem special, but ours was special.

I waited out front so he couldn’t see me. We were both nervous, but it was good. I had a maid of honor and three bridesmaids — I met all the other girls from visitations since they have guys there; we’re all regulars — and he had his best man and his celly there. The girls all wore the same shirt with “Team Hollywood” written on the back, and one of their daughters was the flower girl.

Did you have music, cake, all that? No, but that’s okay. It was wonderful and meant so much to him.

What did you wear? I wore a white muumuu with a plumeria in my hair, and I had a bouquet of plumeria flowers. I also wore something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. [Laughs.] I’m very traditional and old fashioned. I got him a nice wedding band, and I have an engagement band and wedding ring. He was allowed to get a wedding band worth up to $100.

Oh, and he wrote his own vows. He’s very smart. He uses all these big words, and sometimes I have to look them up. [Laughs.] It was so heartfelt. One of my friends at the wedding was crying, and his family all say they’ve never seen him so happy.

This may be a bit too personal, but were you allowed to consummate the marriage? [Laughs.] No, we couldn’t because he’s serving life without parole.

So you don’t have conjugal visits? No, but it doesn’t bother me. He knows I care for him and am 100 percent there for him. Just because you’re in prison doesn’t mean you can’t have love or give love. A person deserves love no matter what. It’s like that Rihanna song, “We found love in a hopeless place.”

What marriage challenges do you think you’ll face that other people might not? The only thing that’s tough is getting inside prison. You can’t wear certain clothing; you can’t wear blue jeans because inmates have blue-jean type pants. That’s the thing me and my friends always talk about — it’s stressful to get in.

Do you expect to suffer any repercussions in your personal or professional life for marrying Jesse? I’ve had women say I’m crazy. Other prison wives have said that. But I really love Jesse, and I’m not ashamed to be his wife. I wouldn’t have made the decision to pursue him if I had second thoughts.

What are you two doing for Valentine’s Day? I already sent him a bunch of cards and got him some photos of me. I want to make a calendar for him of pictures of us during the wedding and from the last year. I can’t send him flowers or anything like that. They can only get packages like three times a year, but I figured out a way to get him mail quicker: Put stuff in a big gold envelope so it stands out during inspections. I also send him prestamped envelopes and paper so it’s easier for him to keep in touch. His mom does that, too.

How does Jesse like to spend his time? He reads a lot. He recently read Mike Tyson’s book, and Paradise Lost, and one of the Menendez brother’s books. He also watches TV — comedy, like Arsenio Hall. He goes to bed early and wakes up early and programs — running, exercising, working out — all the time.

I assume you weren’t the first woman to write Jesse. Does he stay in contact with the other ladies? He had a lot of women interested, but he dropped them on his own. [Laughs.] I never asked for their names or anything. Awhile ago he said he had started to cut them off because he fell for me.

I know Jesse is in the process of appealing his conviction. Do you worry his sentence will be upheld, and he’ll never get out? Win, lose, or draw, I’ll be with him forever. I will be with him until the end.

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

There must be a man shortage. Quick, make some more.

spacey (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 12:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Brainwashed. Sad, she's a beautiful girl.

EmmaWoods (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 1:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

two broken people

JamPenn (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 1:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Losers attract losers. The company they deserve to keep.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 1:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm speechless.

Indyholio (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 1:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why the hell do women do this?? I have a job..a car.. couple of cycles I ride..I can cook.. and I built my own greenhouse... this guy killed someone and hes "Marrying" material!!
Women are insane.. just look at the boston bomber guy.. hes had marriage proposals and he killed and maimed more people

audidriver2010 (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 2:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How Ridiculous! I hope they traded STD's or something. I blame this on network television and made for TV Movies.

GluteousMaximus (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 2:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

so he married her to access the vending machine. he's no dummy.

whats the over /under before she's busted trying to smuggle stuff to him.....90 days?

lawdy (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 2:18 p.m. (Suggest removal)

i bet he is a deeper shade of blue than his shirt everytime she leaves.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 2:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hollywood is simply a maggot. Marriage doesn't change this fact!

whatsinsb (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 2:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Meldina? The Independent doesn't have spellcheck?

ooshea (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 2:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Poor thing. One can only shake one's head and wonder what happened in her life that she craves this kind of attention.

chilldrinfthenight (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 3:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A perfect match. Both have what they deserve. And a new reality TV show in the making.

Ryansbca (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 3:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

SO, what was the point of this article?

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 5:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I can't believe you spent time on this P.O.S.

MediaPro (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 5:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I bet her parents are so proud. I bet they'll have a baby and it won't look anything like him, and neither will the DNA results.

Validated (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 5:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

STOP!! Hold the presses. Hollywood married Jay Leno!

Validated (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 5:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm single, but there's no mystery involved.

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 5:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is too f****ed-up for me to even think about.

LegendaryYeti (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 8:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The fact that this happened is grotesque but most diaturbing is the Independent. - a once proud publication- publishes this lengthy "exclusive" puff piece. Are you effin kidding me?

whosecityisthis2012 (anonymous profile)
February 4, 2014 at 9:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A refreshingly transgressive article.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 12:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

What Ken said.

By the way, I'm sure Markowitz' mother must feel wonderful reading this article.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 1:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Sorry to see the Indy give convicted criminal and kidnapper Hollywood the photo-op, the glamor, and just ... the attention. How is it transgressive, KV?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 6:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

No one commented on the ongoing appeals in Hollywood's case. His direct appeals are final. He filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus seeking to overturn his conviction. The Santa Barbara Superior Court recently denied that petition in a lengthy opinion. (It was not decided by the same judge who tried the case.) Next will likely be a habeas petition before the Cal. Court of Appeal. Available avenues after that would be a petition to the Cal. Supreme Court, then the federal courts.

ice9 (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 7:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I get that this is (sort of) a "local interest" story, but the Indy appears far too obsessed with the case and its need for continued coverage of these thugs.
Here, it seems they're exploiting a likely exploitative situation, including perhaps even the fangirls who often comment on such stories regrading their interest in the case and their "research" into it.

I'm assuming that "refreshingly transgressive" is meant to be in some way ironic?
Pathetic and manipulative are the words that come more readily to my mind for both those featured in this story and those seemingly driven to foist it on the public.
I'm guessing that it's ultimately all about the page-clicks though.

zappa (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 8:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

My guess why she didn't want to give her age is because she was only 13 or 14 years old she gave birth to her daughter.

buckwheat (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 9:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

So someone who works in health insurance and conceivably has access to confidential identity information and health records for who knows how many people has married a convicted felon and demonstrated schemer.

"What could possibly go wrong"

surfimp (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 9:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Have you heard about the lonesome loser????? Great song, but it fits MELINDA!!!!!!!!!

rukidding (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 10:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Not every woman is insane, Audidriver2010, but that woman is!
"He’s been judged very bad, and people don’t know who he really is"--um, yeah, as if she knows who he really is.

GDogMama (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 11:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Great Story, next the Independent can do a story about David Attias is getting married and starting a family. Audidriver2010 you are so right are right on this one...

CManSB (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 12:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

He got a "raw deal?" I wonder how she justifies that to herself.

People who marry murderers in prison when they haven't known them before their crimes are in some way or form pathological. Whether it's the need to be seen by someone as their savior or to feel special that they are the only one who "gets" their spouse, whatever....something is wrong with someone who seeks out a life with someone in prison or on death row who has been convicted of a violent crime or murder.

And folks, a lot of men marry women in prison, too. It's not a distasteful behavior that women have cornered the market on!

Native1 (anonymous profile)
February 5, 2014 at 7:22 p.m. (Suggest removal)

She graduated in 1989. https://www.facebook.com/melinda.enos

abnsb (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2014 at 10:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@gdogmama,

I wasnt surprised to find out that many male rapists/murders got married while in prison.. including Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, Scott Peterson got marriage proposals while in prison.

Maybe not all women I'll give you that!

audidriver2010 (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2014 at 10:26 a.m. (Suggest removal)

“Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.”

sbmammy (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2014 at 5:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Too bad the spay/neuter laws don't apply to the Hollywoods.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 6, 2014 at 7:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Expect to see her in the blotter somewhere, some time in the near future. WE GOTS US A WINNER!

blahblahmoreblah (anonymous profile)
February 7, 2014 at 3:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Only from the mind and world view of a "killer as victim" journalist like Mr. Hayden would you have such a powder puff softball interview.

Where are the series of questions about the crimes he committed and anguish the victim felt as he was about to be slaughtered? And the family of the victim?

Where is the question about giving aid and comfort to a killer via a marraige?
Shameful, shameful reporting.

realitycheck88 (anonymous profile)
February 8, 2014 at 6:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

You might find it shameful reporting but it certainly didn't stop you from reading it.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 8, 2014 at 7:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

realitycheck88-There are a lot of ignorant and hateful people out there. As the saying goes; "Ignorance breeds hatred." As far as questions about the anguish of the victim and his family, I found no evidence to back up the claims of Jesse having a part in making the decision to kill Nick. Nor was he there to witness his anguish. Those are questions to be asked to the ones who were. Jesse's only public statement was "I was not there and if I were this would never have happened." He undoubtably feels the pain of the Markowitz family's loss more than you can imagine and in more ways than one. abnsb-Look up Lori Davis while you're at it. She married Damien Ehchols, author of Life After Death while he was on death row. He was released more than 20 years after his wrongful conviction. Perfect love casts out fear. I enjoyed the article and found it heartwarming. Thank you xo

Cally (anonymous profile)
February 10, 2014 at 6:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yep. So heartwarming Cally.
A convicted criminal being comforted. Heartwarming.

I wonder what you'd feel about someone being involved in your own demise and then others writing about a celebration they had in prison and how heartwarming it was.

Just lovely, really. Wonderful.

realitycheck88 (anonymous profile)
February 11, 2014 at 9:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

After reading the comments on this page, it becomes abundantly clear that Jesse could never have gotten a fair trial in Santa Barbara. The ignorance, hate and vitriol spews forth like lava from the potential jury pools in good old SB. Especially the vile. ignorant and mean comments aimed at Melinda. Hopefully, Jesse will get a new trial in a different city. The comment page here on this article will be useful as evidence to support a change of venue motion.

TomKuhn (anonymous profile)
February 12, 2014 at 9:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Tom, very interesting you just said that because I was about to say the same. Very disheartening and eye-opening to see into the hearts of so many Santa Barbarans. Who would know...
Based on their comments, Santa "Barbarians" would more fittingly describe them. Very sad to see this. My dad always said "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Thanks again Santa Barbara Independent - In spite of the rude, hatful comments, I really enjoyed the article.

Cally (anonymous profile)
February 12, 2014 at 11:51 a.m. (Suggest removal)

on the plus side, maybe her daughter can also find a winner in the big house while visiting. has to be heaps of misunderstood lonely convicted killers in there.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
February 12, 2014 at 12:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

~LOVE~
"Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense.
Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over another's sins, but delights in the truth.
There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance.
In a word, there are three things that last forever; faith, hope and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.
1 Corinthians 13
I continue to hold out faith and hope that love will prevail and we can all delight in the truth.

Cally (anonymous profile)
February 12, 2014 at 12:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Its hard for people to understand, why you did this..but I think maybe God put you with him for a reason..stick it out no matter what..your love for each other will carry you through, God Bless You Both

afriend (anonymous profile)
February 13, 2014 at 9:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I would like to know what insurance company this nimrod works for so I can make sure to never do business with them. As far as the Hollywood sympathizers go on this board.... You obviously did not see the prosecution evidence and the fact that Ryan Hoyt stated to Graham Pressley that "Jesse ordered the hit" and that his "debt was now cleared." Jesse James Hollywood was and is a scumbag POS and a skid-mark on society. He is right where he needs to be and hopefully someday and very soon, he will get traded for cigarettes and end up shanked in the neck.

Bad_News (anonymous profile)
February 14, 2014 at 8:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

it is so disturbing to hear all the hate that goes out for JJH, please know that God can use what was meant for evil and use it for his Glory...I pray that everyone who has this hate in their hearts, I pray that God would show you forgiveness and I pray that you will never have to go through anything like this...meaning JJH's family or the markowitz family...everyone looses in this situation, and all of this hate will not help anyone...it disturbs you so much you want t ruin his wifes life to...please have mercy...this life is not about hate it is about God, the forgiveness he has for each of us..for no one is good not even one all have fallen short of the Glory of God...I pray for you all....please Lord help each of us to know your Glory your truth your forgiveness..please help us all..In Jesus Name Amen

afriend (anonymous profile)
February 15, 2014 at 10:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Speechless.

Holly (anonymous profile)
February 21, 2014 at 1:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Congrats Jesse. Maybe one day you will join Rugge on the outside.

kerry121 (anonymous profile)
February 25, 2014 at 6:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I happen to know Melinda....she is just a very insecure individual who dates guys whom use her as a bank account. She is craving love and trust. Now she no longer has to worry about the trust part since she married man who is spending life in prison......lmao!!! Really!!!! I guess the good thing is that she does not need to worry about him sleeping around, heck she doesn't even get to sleep with the guy.
But then again maybe this is a a better way to approach a relationship rather than meeting men on craiglist.....that was kind of scary!
Oh Boy, this girl has issues, BIG ISSUES!!!
She thinks she is going to be famous for marrying him, but I think she will just continue to be used by yet another loser of a man. She is Fricken CRAZY!!!! I actually feel a little bit sorry for her...lol

WOW (anonymous profile)
April 16, 2014 at 8:31 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is sick. The prisoners serving life sentence without parole should be banned from getting married especially someone who killed a child!!! He was almost sentenced to death. And the woman is so lonely that she is willing to spend her weekends with killers. It looks like she is proud of it.
Does Jesse have any appeals left?

GreenTree (anonymous profile)
October 13, 2014 at 3:58 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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