Welcome to True Crime Tuesday where we review, recommend and generally obsess over everything crime-related.
Relationships are hard, no one is denying that. For some people, they’re so hard that hiring a professional killer to murder their spouse sounds less messy than going through a breakup. When most people hear the word “hitman” they think of mob bosses who send their dead-eyed associate to collect on a drug debt, or a former military sharp shooter with a duffle bag full of guns. A few notable professional hitmen and contract killers include Charles Harrelson (yes, that’s Woody’s father), Glennon Engleman, a dentist who moonlighted as a hitman and killed at least seven people for profit, and Bugsy Seigel, an infamous Las Vegas-based Jewish American gangster who was himself murdered in a suspected hit that remains unsolved to this day.
Most people probably assume they’re safe from hitmen because they don’t do illegal things. They haven’t racked up a gambling debt they can’t pay, they don’t do drugs, and they don’t have any enemies. There’s a reason why someone coined the phrase “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer” and it might have something to do with these 5 regular people who ordered a hit on the person they were supposed to love most—their spouse.
Dalia Dippolito met her husband Michael while she was working as an escort. He hired her for sex but they ended up getting along so well that they got married. During their short marriage, Dalia stole money from Michael, tried to get his probation revoked by planting drugs in his car, and, he says, she tried to kill him by spiking his iced tea with antifreeze. According to prosecutors, Dalia wanted her husband dead so she would inherit his savings and house. The evidence included a 23-minute video where Dalia talked to an undercover investigator about the various plots she had come up with to have her husband killed and agrees to pay $7000. She also said she was “5000 percent sure” she wanted her husband dead.
Dalia was found guilty in 2011 and was under house arrest while her lawyers worked on her appeal. At her second trial, she was found guilty again and this time sentenced to 16 years in real prison. Her ex-husband Michael is still alive and was the only witness who testified, telling the judge “It’s not even real. It’s like I can’t even believe we’re still sitting here like this girl didn’t even try to do this.”
Maria Sosa was looking for someone to kill her husband Ramon and she made the mistake of asking an acquaintance if he knew anyone who could help. Instead, that acquaintance told Ramon what his wife was up to and together they went to the police. Maria then connected with a potential “hitman” who was actually an undercover police office and offered him between $500 and $4,000 (reports vary) and her husband’s used pickup truck to murder Ramon. The undercover officer offered to have her husband beat up instead but Maria allegedly said, “No, I want him dead.”
To make sure they got a conviction, police hatched a plan to fake Ramon’s death to make Maria think her plan had succeeded. They used stage makeup to paint on a fake bullet wound and took pictures of Ramon’s “corpse” in a ditch to show to Maria. When she saw the pictures she laughed and forked over the cash. Maria was then arrested and she took a plea deal of 20 years in prison rather than go to trial.
John Franklin Howard
John Franklin Howard or “Frank” married his wife Nancy in 1983 and the couple had three kids together, two girls and a boy. Nancy was a housewife and Frank was an accountant. They were married for 26 years when Frank met another woman and everything changed. Frank got in touch with man named Billie Earl Johnson and asked if Billie would be willing to kill his wife for $65,000. Billie agreed but blew through the money so fast that he had to ask Frank for more. The cycle of partying, drugs, getting arrested and asking Frank for more and more money continued for two years and a bunch more of Billie’s family, friends, and acquaintances got in on the pay days Frank kept handing out.
Finally, on August 18th 2012, a man named Michael Lorance who had served time with Billie’s nephew was the one to shoot Nancy in the face right outside her own house. Miraculously, she survived. It took investigators weeks to navigate the complicated stories of multiple people who were involved in the plot at that point, but they traced the crime back to Frank and he was arrested. During trial, it was revealed that Frank had embezzled more than $30 million from one of his clients. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, although he continues to maintain his innocence despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
David Harris was a successful TV producer who worked on the UK show The Bill for nearly two decades. His wife, Hazel Allinson who also worked on The Bill was independently wealthy and David wanted her money for himself. He cooked up various schemes to get rid of Hazel including trying to hire four different hitmen to kill her. From a carjacking, to poisoning to pushing her off a cliff, David had a variety of suggestions for the best way to do the deed, but police arrested him before he pulled it off.
Turned out, David had a 28-year-old Lithuanian mistress (he was 68) and he was running out of money to continue to shower her with expensive gifts. David told investigators he wasn’t really trying to have his wife killed—he was just doing research for a novel he planned on writing. No one believed his story and he was convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
Former minor league hockey player Thomas Clayton wanted to divorce his wife Kelley, but he decided he couldn’t because she’d probably “take everything”. So instead, he hired his former employee Michael Beard to kill his wife. Clayton claims he was out playing poker when Beard broke in and bludgeoned Kelley to death before setting the house on fire. Unfortunately for him, there were multiple calls and text messages between him and Beard that suggest they organized the crime together.
As the investigation went on, authorities discovered that Clayton had doubled Kelley’s life insurance policy and had been carrying on affairs with multiple other women. Beard initially confessed to being hired to kill Kelley for $10,000 cash but later changed his story and plead not guilty. He was still convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Clayton was also found guilty and sentenced to life although he still maintains his innocence and the appeal process is ongoing.