Entries in Murder for Hire (7)


Lawyer for As I Lay Dying Singer Blames Steroids in Murder-for-Hire Plot

Photo by Joey Foley/Getty Images(OCEANSIDE, Calif.) -- As I Lay Dying lead singer Tim Lambesis is set to appear in court on Tuesday, weeks after his lawyer linked the rocker's steroid use to his alleged attempt to arrange the murder of his estranged wife.

Lambesis, 32, was arrested May 7 in Oceanside, Calif., and charged with soliciting the murder of his wife Meggan Lambesis, who resides in Encinitas, Calif. Tim Lambesis remains behind bars on $2 million bail and has pleaded not guilty.

Thomas Warwick, the rocker's lawyer, blamed steroids, saying Lambesis was mentally unstable when he asked an undercover detective to kill his wife. He said Lambesis' thoughts were "devastatingly affected" by the drugs.

"His thought process was dramatically impacted by the steroid use," Warwick said in a Vista, Calif., courtroom on May 17 during a bail hearing.

Once Lambesis began working out, the steroid use began and the singer known for his head-banging music with a Christian twist lost his faith in God, Warwick said.

Prosecutors don't buy the "roid rage" defense and say the singer knew exactly what he was doing and his estranged wife now lives in fear.

"She is living petrified, not knowing, 'Can I come out, who else is out there?'" Deputy District Attorney Claudia Grasso said.

A 2008 video of Lambesis on the television show L.A. Ink shows a much skinnier body compared with a 2013 video of the rocker working out in the gym on his personal YouTube page.

"Anabolic steroids lead to an increase of testosterone hormone in blood, but it is very complex and it is not a direct cause-and-effect scenario," ABC News senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said.

Authorities began investigating Lambesis about a week prior to his arrest after they said they got word he was allegedly trying to find someone to kill his wife at a local gym. Grasso said Lambesis later met with the undercover agent posing as a hit man and gave him $1,000 and instructions on how best to kill his wife.

Meggan Lambesis served her rocker husband with divorce papers in September 2012, according to court records. The couple has three adopted children from Ethiopia.

Tim Lambesis is a founding member of the metalcore band that formed in 2000 in San Diego. As I Lay Dying's 2007 album An Ocean Between Us hit number 8 on the Billboard 200, and no. 1 on the Top Rock chart. The group was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for the song "Nothing Left" from the album. The band has released six albums.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


As I Lay Dying Singer Tim Lambesis Arrested in Murder-for-Hire Plot

Joey Foley/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The Christian lead singer of Grammy-nominated rock band As I Lay Dying has been arrested in Southern California in a sting operation for allegedly attempting to arrange the murder of his estranged wife.

Tim Lambesis, 32, was arrested Tuesday while shopping in Oceanside, Calif. and has been charged with three federal counts, including solicitation of another to commit murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit crime, according to the San Diego County sheriff's department.

"Information came to us last Thursday. We decided to initiate an investigation immediately," Jan Caldwell, a spokesman for the San Diego sheriff's department told "We worked it around the clock until the arrest was made at 2 p.m. on Tuesday."

Caldwell said that Lambesis was arrested without incident.

On Tuesday, Lambesis solicited an undercover detective to kill his wife Meggan Lambesis, who resides in Encinitas, Calif., police said in a statement. San Diego police said that they received a tip on May 2 that Lambesis was soliciting another individual to kill his estranged wife, who served him with divorce papers in September 2012, according to court records.

Lambesis is a founding member of the metalcore band that formed in 2000 in San Diego. As I Lay Dying's 2007 album An Ocean Between Us hit number 8 on the Billboard 200, and number 1 on the Top Rock chart. The group was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award for the song Nothing Left from the album. The band has released a total of six albums.

In a frequently asked questions section on the band's website, Lambesis laid out his beliefs and how he said it should apply to his life.

"I'm not sure what the difference is between five Christians playing in a band and a Christian band," he said. "If you truly believe something, then it should affect every area of your life. All five of us are Christians. I believe that change should start with me first."

As I Lay Dying is scheduled to be the special guests on the metal band Killswitch Engage upcoming U.S. headline tour, set to begin June 9 in Philadelphia.

Calls placed to Meggan Lambesis and representatives for Tim Lambesis were not immediately returned. It was not clear whether Lambesis had hired an attorney.

Lambesis is currently being held at the Vista Detention Facility.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Kindergarten Teacher and School Nurse Held in Murder-for-Hire Plot

ABC News(FRANKLIN, Va.) -- A Virginia elementary school teacher and a school nurse are facing charges in what police are calling a murder-for-hire plot.

Angela Nolen, a 47-year-old kindergarten teacher, was arrested Wednesday for allegedly plotting to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband for $8,000. According to police, Nolen’s friend 37-year-old Cathy Bennett, a school nurse, worked with Nolen to find a hit man.

According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Nolen’s plan unraveled when she gave a police officer, working undercover as a hit man, an up-front fee of $4,000 to kill her ex-husband, 63-year-old Paul Strickler.

Strickler, who is the father of Nolen’s 7-year-old daughter, told the Roanoke Times he had been working on a deal to sell his house to Nolen.

“If I was dead, she would not have to give me the money,” he told the Roanoke Times. “That scares the H-E-L-L out of me. I’m just so glad that the state police found out about this and uncovered it.”

Strickler’s attorney, Stephen Meddy, said his client was “distraught” when he heard about the alleged plot and that the couple’s divorce proceedings had raised no red flags. Nolen had full custody of their daughter before her arrest.

According to The Franklin News-Post, Nolen had filed a protective order against her ex-husband in October 2012.

Franklin County Superintendent Mark Church, who oversees the school system where the two women work, tried to reassure parents and students that no one in the school was threatened.

“These events as we understand them did not involve the school or any students and they are as safe as we can reasonably make them,” he said.

Franklin County Commonwealth Attorney Tim Allen said the prosecution would ask for at least a $75,000 bond for Bennett at the school nurse’s bond hearing.

“The mere fact of what she did is so egregious, you have to look at that as a danger to the community,” Allen said. “That’s what the commonwealth is worried about.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Las Vegas Firefighter Accused in Murder-for-Hire Plot

ABC News(LAS VEGAS) -- Prosecutors in Las Vegas are seeking an indictment against a Las Vegas City firefighter and West Point graduate who they say paid a homeless man to beat his wife to death in her home in late September.

When police found Shauna Tiaffay, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress and mother, brutally murdered in her own home on Sept. 29, it seemed like a random crime.  But today, prosecutors are saying her husband, George Tiaffay, was the mastermind behind the gruesome attack.  They have accused George Tiaffay of offering Noel Stevens, a homeless man, $20,000 to beat his bride to death.

"I felt that the minute I heard that the way that she had died, that he [George Tiaffay] had something to do with it," Shauna Tiaffay's friend, Claudia Carrillo, told ABC News.

Carrillo and Stephanie Vargas, two of Shauna's best friends, are now breaking their silence, saying that they believe George Tiaffay was a verbally abusive husband.

"He was known for being controlling with her and I think this is a case of him trying to control her," Carrillo said.

Vargas agrees that George Tiaffay was very possessive of Shauna.

"[He was] one of those -- if I can't have her, nobody else can," Vargas said.

Police say the evidence speaks for itself, and that the details of the alleged murder plot read like a crime novel.

Investigators say George Tiaffay was in constant contact with Stevens, calling him 86 times in September.  The two even exchanged phone calls in the moments before police believe Shauna was murdered.

Police also say they obtained surveillance video of the two men walking out of a hardware store together after purchasing a hammer, gloves and knife.

On Monday, Stevens' attorney refused to comment.  But George Tiaffay's lawyer issued a statement on behalf of his family.

"George did not commit the crimes he is charged with," he said in the statement.  "While all marriages have their ups and downs, George and Shauna were both committed to each other, and especially their daughter."

But Shauna's friends are still not convinced that George had nothing to with her death.

"To become a fireman and help people, how is it that you want to save lives but you take a life?" Carrillo said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Murder-for-Hire Teacher has History of Disciplinary Problems

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office(TAMPA BAY, Fla.) -- A Florida high school teacher accused of masterminding a murder for hire plot against a coworker  has a history of disciplinary problems.

In a letter dated November 2001 and obtained by ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV, James Pepe, 55, was chastised for an apparent outburst.

“Your unprofessional conduct… caused a disruption of a school function and created an uncomfortable and hostile situation…” said a letter from the Professional Standards Director at Tampa Bay Technical High School, where Pepe worked at the time.

“Several professionals described your demeanor in terms such as ‘hostile,’ ‘aggressive,’ ‘extremely volatile,’ and your anger as ‘alarming,’” the letter stated.

Despite the letter, the station noted that Pepe’s evaluations were nearly perfect.

Pepe, a social studies teacher at Bloomingdale High School in Hillsborough County who liked students to call him “Doctor Professor Pepe,” was arrested at school on Thursday.

In a Sept. 13 phone call, Pepe, allegedly told an undercover officer that he was willing to pay $2,000 for  ”an issue that he might need taken care of,” according to WFTS-TV.

He is accused of trying to put out a hit on Robert Meredith, a former co-worker. The two men had apparently worked together at Strawberry Crest High School.

Both schools are in the Hillsborough County public school district.

Authorities began investigating Pepe in August after the man he allegedly contacted to kill Meredith became concerned that he was serious and called authorities.

“It had moved beyond just a fixation to an actual anger,” a spokesperson for the Plant City Police Department told ABC News.

Police called the FBI which then, according to authorities, taped a series of phone calls between Pepe and an undercover agent.

In the recording made just two weeks ago, in which Pepe allegedly told the undercover officer he would be willing to pay him $2,000, Pepe balked at the officer’s request for an in-person meeting.

Meredith told WFTS-TV he knew of Pepe, but did not socialize with him and has no idea why he would be targeted.

“When you are at school you have limited time to talk to co-workers, period.  So, as far as going out and having a drink, never,” Meredith said.  “This came as a complete shock.”

Pepe reportedly told police he and Meredith were best friends and had a falling out.  He also claimed Meredith was spreading rumors that he was a child molester.

Meredith, who is still a teacher, said he never had any harsh words or a confrontation with Pepe.

“I don’t feel that I’m in any way culpable for this,” he said.  “If there is a problem, it is 100 percent on the other side.”

Pepe is being held at Hillsborough County jail on one charge of solicitation to commit murder. He was not offered bail.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Houston Murder-for-Hire Plot Has New Twist

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- A woman who confessed to plotting with her lover, Jeffrey Stern, to have his wife killed allegedly is now trying to have him killed from behind bars, Stern's attorney has said.

Prosecutors say Stern, a prominent Houston lawyer, and his former mistress, Michelle Gaiser, planned three failed attempts to kill Stern's wife, Yvonne.

The plots failed, although Yvonne was shot in the stomach during the third attempt.

Stern will be tried next month for his alleged role in the plots.

During a press conference on Tuesday, his attorney, Paul Nugent, claimed that that Gaiser was plotting to kill his client.  Nugent read from a jailhouse letter Gaiser allegedly wrote in which he claimed she ordered a hit on Stern.

"Michelle Gaiser -- from her jail cell -- has plotted yet another murder," Nugent said.  "She has solicited an inmate to murder Jeffrey Stern for $20,000."

Nugent also claimed the letter said the killing should "look like a robbery gone bad."

Nugent would not give the media a closer look at the note, but he claims Gaiser wrote that the hit should happen near the Sterns' vacation home in Aspen.

According to Nugent, the letter also said that if Stern was killed near the Aspen residence, "people will think the wife did the planning to kill him as revenge."

Nugent said he turned the note over to the district attorney, who declined to bring Gaiser up on any new charges.  Nugent also claimed the FBI was investigating, but the agency would not confirm that.

Gaiser has agreed to plead guilty to arranging three attempts on Yvonne's life.  In exchange for her guilty plea and cooperation with the government, prosecutors agreed to reduce her possible life sentence to a maximum of 25 years in prison.

Stern was charged with soliciting capital murder, and will stand trial on July 27.  He admitted the affair with Gaiser, but has denied any wrongdoing in the murder attempts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Target of Murder-for-Hire, Wife Defends Husband Indicted in Hit Plot

Comstock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- The Houston woman who prosecutors say was targeted in a murder-for-hire plot in which her husband was indicted, testified on the first day of the trial of one of several suspects charged.

Bellaire socialite Yvonne Stern survived three attempts on her life, but when she left court Monday after giving her testimony, she spoke out in defense of her husband.

Prosecutors claim Jeffrey Stern and his mistress, Michelle Cabrera Gaiser, plotted to kill Yvonne Stern. Mr. Stern was indicted on solicitation of capital murder charges. Five other people, including Gaiser, have been charged in the plot.

The Sterns left court holding hands, and Yvonne Stern paused to tell reporters that she loved her husband and had forgiven him for "his indiscretions."

"He had nothing to do with this and could not do anything with this. We are victims of a fatal attraction," she said. Her husband, a prominent Houston attorney, said nothing.

On the stand, Stern cried when she described being shot as she sat in her SUV in the parking garage of her apartment last year. The suspect, Damian Flores, is up on capital murder charges.

Flores' attorney told jurors that Stern initially identified another man -- who had worked on the Sterns' home -- as her assailant. She later identified Flores from a line-up.

Jeffrey Stern has denied the allegations against him.

Yvonne Stern had started divorce proceedings, citing adultery, but later changed her mind and reconciled with her husband.

Cabrera has reportedly agreed to a plea deal and is expected to testify in Flores' trial.

The first attempt to kill Stern was a drive-by shooting at the couple's Houston home in February 2010. The house was sprayed with bullets, but Stern, who has two children, wasn't home.

Two months later, a man shot at her through the glass in the door but missed. The entire family was at home, but no one was hurt. Following the second incident, the family moved to an apartment for safety, but someone tracked Stern down there.

In May 2010, she was sitting in her car in the parking garage at the apartment when a man -- allegedly Flores -- approached her window with a gun leveled at her head. She begged and pleaded through the window, telling the gunman about her children and a new grandchild.

The gunman seemed to have a change of heart, lowering the gun from her head to her abdomen. He hesitated, then shot her in the stomach. She slumped over, played dead, and, bleeding, drove herself to the nearest gas station for help, her attorney has said.

Another man, Nhut Nguyen, has already been tried for his role in the plot. Nguyen was sentenced in August to 45 years in prison for shooting at Stern at her home.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio