THE grieving widow of Stourbridge man Ben Owen who died in an American detention centre fears she may never find out what happened to him.

Ben, aged 39, died while in the custody of US Immigration and Enforcement (ICE) at the Baker County Detention Center in Macclenny, Florida, on January 25.

US officials say he had been awaiting deportation proceedings after previous arrests for a string of domestic charges and that he died of 'self-inflicted strangulation'.

News of his death, however, has been met with disbelief by friends and family in the UK and his American wife of just a year, Tammy, with whom he had a three-month-old daughter, has told the News she doesn't know if she'll ever find out the truth about his untimely passing.

She said Ben - who had been in the States since 2017 working as an electrician on the road with bands including Metallica - died on the couple's wedding anniversary, one year to the day since they tied the knot on Daytona Beach in Florida.

But she was not informed of his death until two days later.

She said: "I had spoken to him twice that day and he was fine - uplifted and fine."

Choking back tears, she said she believed Ben had been writing every day but the letters had not been sent and she still has not received them or his personal belongings.

She believes Ben had been keeping the reality of the situation behind bars from her. She told the News: "I spoke to to him every day but he didn't want me to know how bad it was, I would have been upset. No-one spoke English, everyone was Mexican or Cuban.

"He didn't want to say anything on the phone. He was worried because they recorded his phone calls."

Ben was taken into ICE custody on January 15 after being released from jail in Volusia County - having been arrested on January 12 for aggravated stalking after injunction, false imprisonment, domestic assault and violating conditions following an earlier arrest.

US authorities say the charges followed an arrest on November 17 for alleged domestic battery.

Tammy, however, branded the charges "crazy" and said she had been standing by Ben who is believed to have been in the process of applying for a green card.

US officials say Ben had been in the country since July 2019 on a visitor visa, with permission to stay until December 10, but his family say he had been working in the States since 2017 and Tammy said they had started applying for a green card well before the deadline.

She said American news reports suggesting the couple were separated were incorrect - adding: "We weren't estranged, we loved each other. He loved his wife and daughter, we'd literally just had a baby three months ago."

Struggling to comprehend that he would have harmed himself while incarcerated, she said: "He was only with them for 10 days. It's heartbreaking. I'll never really know what happened.

"He loved his family more than anything

"All he wanted was to be with his girls. He just wanted a happy family. It's so sad."

A spokesman for ICE said an investigation into the death was being carried out and added: "ICE is firmly committed to the health and welfare of all those in its custody and is undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review of this incident, as it does in all such cases.

"Fatalities in ICE custody, statistically, are exceedingly rare and occur at a fraction of the national average for the US detained population."

A 63-year-old Cuban man is also reported to have died in ICE custody at a hospital in Florida two days later on January 27 - bringing the death toll of detainees in ICE custody to six since October 2019.