Storm Lake, IA – A 17-year-old Iowa girl has been charged with allegedly trying to hire a hitman online to assassinate a seven-year-old child, according to police.
The Storm Lake Police Department (SLPD) said they were notified at about midnight on June 2 that someone had reached out to “rentahitman.com,” a parody website, to try to hire an assassin to kill a child living in the Storm Lake area, KTIV reported.
The SLPD said the webmaster told them the suspect had provided very specific details about the seven-year-old intended victim, including where the child could be found and the child’s name.
Investigators ultimately identified a 17-year-old Storm Lake girl as the suspect, although they did not provide details about how they came to that conclusion.
An undercover officer posing as a hitman contacted the teen later that same morning and allegedly confirmed she wanted the child to be killed, KTIV reported.
The suspect also provided the undercover officer with the child’s name, address, and the best time of day to find the would-be victim at home, according to police.
Officers took the teen into custody at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Investigators said a search of the suspect’s cell phone yielded evidence supporting the allegations against her and further solidified their belief that the threat against the seven-year-old’s life was credible, KTIV reported.
The child and the child’s family were unaware of the threat and were not harmed, according to police.
The suspect was turned over to the Cherokee Youth Emergency Services Center and charged with one count of solicitation to commit murder, KTIV reported.
She faces up to 10 years in prison if she is convicted.
The suspect’s identity was not immediately released and it is unclear what relationship she has to the child or the child’s family.
This was not the first time the website has led to someone being arrested on serious charges, CBS News reported.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman in Tennessee was federally charged in April after he applied for a position as an assassin using the website’s hiring page.
In May, a Tennessee woman who tried to hire a hitman to assassinate the new wife of a man she’d met online and was caught when a foreign government’s law enforcement agency saw her ad for a hitman on the dark web.
The criminal complaint filed in federal court on May 11 said that a foreign law enforcement agency reached out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on April 27 to report that 47-year-old Melody Sasser had been trying to hire a hitman to kill David Wallace’s wife, Jennifer, WATE reported.
The complaint alleged Sasser went on the now-defunct dark web site “Online Killers Market” and placed on a “order for murder” to knock out her competition.
Charging documents said Sasser provided the would-be killer with descriptions of Jennifer and David Wallace and their home and work addresses, WATE reported.
“It needs to seem random or accident. Or plant drugs, do not want a long investigation,” Sasser wrote, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors said Sasser and David Wallace became friends and hiking partners in 2020 while he lived in Tennessee after they met on the dating app, Match.com, WATE reported.
It’s not clear whether their relationship ever became romantic, according to the New York Post.
But investigators said it was clear that Sasser was not happy when David Wallace began a relationship with another woman he met online, and ultimately got engaged to her.
When David Wallace moved to Prattville, Alabama with his then-fiance, Jennifer, the complaint said the relationship between him and Sasser went bad, The Washington Post reported.
Sasser was enraged and tracked them down to confront them in person, the New York Post reported.
She allegedly exploded when David Wallace told Sasser that he planned to marry Jennifer.
“I hope you fall off a cliff and die,” Sasser told him, according to the court documents.
Prosecutors said Sasser started using the Online Killers Market website in December of 2022 to find a hitman and paid about $9,750 in bitcoin to have the job done the way she wanted it, the New York Post reported.
She vented on the site that nobody had taken her job fast enough and even complained to the site administrator, according to the complaint.
“Waiting for 2 months and 11 days and the work is not done. 2 weeks ago you said that on this The work has been done and will be completed in a week,” Sasser wrote, using the name “cattree,” on March 22. “The work is still not completed. Does it need to be assigned to someone else. Will it be done. What is the delay, when will it be done.”
She was told nobody wanted to do the hit because it “was too risky” so Sasser began posting info about her victim’s routes and whereabouts from the Strava workout app that tracked her to show it could be done, the New York Post reported.
Federal investigators determined that the information Sasser posted was “100% accurate” and said she also posted a picture of Jennifer “to ensure she could be positively identified by the assigned ‘hitman,’” The Washington Post reported.
Court documents said that investigators followed the money from cattree’s bitcoin account linked it back to Sasser.
Investigators also came up with two pictures that showed Sasser’s vehicle parked near Jennifer’s Alabama office twice in November of 2022, the New York Post reported.
Homeland Security agents alerted the Prattville police of the threat to Jennifer Wallace, The Washington Post reported.
Police learned that someone had gashed both sides of Jennifer’s vehicle and she had been receiving “unpleasant phone calls” from disguised numbers.
Police arrested Sasser on May 18 and charged her with murder-for-hire in federal court.
She is scheduled for arraignment on June 8.