THE widow of a Stourbridge man who died in an American detention centre says she will never give up fighting for the truth about what happened to him.

Ben Owen died on January 25 in 2020 in the custody of US Immigration and Enforcement (ICE) at Baker County Detention Center in Florida.

US officials said the 39-year-old was awaiting deportation proceedings, accused of having overstayed his visa, when he was found dead in his cell.

His American widow, however, disputes the claim he had overstayed his time in the States and says she has a raft of unanswered questions about what led up to his unexpected and untimely death just two weeks after he was taken into the detention facility.

Tammy, with whom Ben had a daughter, said she was not informed of the tragedy until a few days later and she’s been fighting for three-and-a-half years to try to find out exactly what happened on the day he died.

Stourbridge News: Ben OwenBen Owen

A roadie for rock bands, Ben who grew up in Stourbridge had reportedly been working in the US with acts including Metallica – and he and Tammy had tied the knot in 2019 on Daytona Beach, Florida.

But he was taken into custody on January 15, 2020, by ICE - amid claims he had overstayed his visa.

US officials told media Ben had been in the States since July 2019 on a visitor visa, with permission to stay until December 10.

Tammy, however, said her husband had been in the process of applying for US citizenship well before the deadline and she stressed: “He was not out of status.”

Stourbridge News: Tammy and Ben Owen and their daughter GiaTammy and Ben Owen and their daughter Gia (Image: Tammy Owen)

She told the News she’s pursuing legal action over Ben’s detention and death in custody which occurred on their first wedding anniversary.

The 42-year-old, who works as a wardrobe stylist for the entertainment industry, said she has also been working with the families of other detainees who have raised concerns about loved ones detained by ICE at Baker County Detention Center.

She claims Ben was held illegally and said there was nothing about his behaviour to suggest he would have harmed himself and she added: “He wouldn’t have done anything to himself unless it was so horrible.”

She said she’s never been given a full explanation about what happened or any apologies.

Stourbridge News: Tammy Owen being interviewed in the US about the concerns families have raised about ICE detention centresTammy Owen being interviewed in the US about the concerns families have raised about ICE detention centres (Image: Tammy Owen)

She said: “I’ve been fighting for three-and-a-half years.

“We don’t really know what happened. There’s been no information given. We know it was an awful place to be in.”

September 16 would have been Ben’s 43rd birthday…and Tammy said the occasion was marked with a visit to a memorial bench which has been installed in Stourbridge Crematorium to remember Ben who she described as “the most romantic person” she’s ever met.

She added: “I miss him every day.

Stourbridge News: Tammy and Ben OwenTammy and Ben Owen (Image: Tammy Owen)

“He was fun, he loved laughing and dancing. He was full of life. He was an amazing cook and good at his work.

“Even though it was short lived, he was an amazing father.”

She told the News she visits the UK every year to spend time with Ben’s relatives so her daughter Gia, who will be four next month, can get to know them.

Stourbridge News: Tammy Owen, centre, with daughter Gia and Ben's grandfather David Owen, left, at Ben's memorial bench at Stourbridge CrematoriumTammy Owen, centre, with daughter Gia and Ben's grandfather David Owen, left, at Ben's memorial bench at Stourbridge Crematorium (Image: Tammy Owen)

She said she’ll never stop campaigning for the truth – adding: “The reason why I fight is for my daughter. I’m not going to stop until the day I die. I don’t want this happening to other families.”

A spokesperson for ICE said of the case: “ICE does not comment on ongoing or pending litigation. Further, ICE does not comment on litigation proceedings or their outcomes.”

At the time of the incident ICE, however, said it was “undertaking a comprehensive agency-wide review” following Ben’s death and that fatalities in ICE detention facility were “exceedingly rare”.