It all started with a posting on the anonymous social media app Whisper.
“Need help. 19F," the message read, according to court documents.
When Salem police Officer Greg Smith saw the message, he responded, and soon enough, the apparent 19-year-old female wrote back: “Kill my ex fiance He’s trying to get custody of our daughter.”
Yet, as Smith unraveled the case, he learned the poster was not a 19-year-old female. It was the ex himself — and now that man has been charged in what court documents say was a suicide attempt.
Smith saw the post on Oct. 22. Over the next few days, he and the man — then posing as his ex-girlfriend — messaged back and forth. The poster claimed the murder was motivated by a child custody dispute, and the two ultimately agreed the job would be done for $5,000, to be paid once she collected life insurance from the death. The poster also offered up her ex’s television, Xbox and Playstation as compensation, according to court documents.
Police contacted the man during the investigation, saying that it appeared his ex-girlfriend was trying to have him murdered. During interviews, the man allegedly indicated the girlfriend’s brother might also be involved in the plot, court documents state.
In doing surveillance for the case, Smith noticed that the man’s ex was never on her phone when he would get messages from the poster. Smith later connected the man’s IP address with the original post.
When police confronted the man on Nov. 20, he allegedly confessed to making the post.
According to court documents, the man “explained that he was depressed at the time, wanted to die, but couldn’t do it himself.” He said he posed as his ex because he thought “that someone would take a woman, under the circumstances he’d described, more seriously and be more inclined to follow through with the solicitation.”
The man was arrested and booked into Utah County jail the same day he confessed. He was charged Thursday in Fourth District Court with a first-degree felony count of criminal solicitation and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony.