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'I Love Him,' Cross Fit Co-Founder Says Of Plans To Marry Accused Murderer

Lauren Jenai was childhood friends with Franklin Tyrone Tucker in Philadelphia but rekindled a romance after he was arrested for allegedly stabbing a man to death.

By Jill Sederstrom
Franklin Tyrone Tucker

Wedding bells will soon be ringing for Cross-fit co-founder and multimillionaire Lauren Jenai and a Florida man accused of murder.

Jenai, who sold her shares of the popular fitness model for $20 million in 2013 as part of a messy divorce, told The New York Post she plans to wed Franklin Tyrone Tucker, a man she knew in high school who has been accused of stabbing another man to death.

The pair had been planning to wed while he was out on bond, but after his bail was denied at a Jan. 29 hearing the couple now plans to wed at the detention center.

“We would be allowed to have a wedding in jail,” she told the news organization, adding that the ceremony would be the first time the two had been in the same room during their romance.

Tucker has been behind bars since November 2017 after authorities arrested him for what’s known as the “tree house murder” in Key West, Florida. They allege that Tucker, 47, and another man killed Matthew Bonnett, 59, as the victim was trying to protect a neighbor during a robbery attempt.

Investigators believe Tucker and Rory Hank Wilson were attempting to rob Paula Belamonte on Nov. 17, 2017 at knifepoint in the treehouse shanty where she lived, according to the Miami Herald.

The robbers were allegedly seeking crack cocaine and money, but police said Wilson sliced Belamonte’s throat.

Bonnett, who lived in a trailer on the same property, came to check on his neighbor and ran into the two robbers and was stabbed to death.

Wilson later told police he watched Tucker stab Bonnett multiple times and when he asked him why he'd killed the man, Tucker said he “had to.” Tucker, Wilson and a third man who allegedly drove the getaway car have all been charged with murder.

Tucker, who maintains his innocence, allegedly told police he had been drinking heavily that day and didn’t remember much of what happened that night, the local paper reports.

Jenai believes Tucker is innocent and has taken on a role as his advocate.

“I did a lot of research [and thought] something’s not right here,” she said in an earlier article in The New York Post.

The pair, who once had a “pretty strong bond” as childhood friends in Philadelphia, began to get reacquainted as friends on Facebook shortly before Tucker’s arrest.

She heard of his arrest through Facebook and became concerned about her friend, who had been homeless at the time.

“He’s a very kind human being. Hearing him being involved in some violent crime was disturbing,” she said.

The two began to chat through video visitations at the jail and Jenai hired a private investigator to try to prove his innocence. A romance also began between the pair, which Jenai has described as a “really special relationship.”

She had offered to put up a $1 million bond for his release from jail, but a judge denied the bail request in January.

The couple has also been barred from video visitation for 100 years after a "risqué" incident in February where Jenai told The Post she had been "touching my boobs."

She’s hoping the pair will be able to tie the knot this summer and doesn’t plan to have a pre-nup.

“Our relationship is very open and we are a team. I trust him. I love him. My house is his house. A prenup feels a little inappropriate,” she said.

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