Authorities in Sarasota, Florida say that a 34-year-old woman, Rachael Leahy, is behind bars after she allegedly offered a hitman $5,000 to kill her ex-husband, David Joseph Leahy Jr., 59.
According to the ABC Action News, just two weeks ago, police officials received an anonymous tip about a woman wanting to kill her ex-husband so that she could get custody of their children.
Manatee County police officials immediately appointed an undercover officer for the mission and were able to make contact with Rachael during a sting operation.
It was not long after until the undercover officer was able to gain Rachael’s trust as she instantly began discussing payments for having her ex-husband murdered.
She reportedly offered the hitman $5,000 to get the job done.
Manatee woman arrested for murder-for-hire plot https://t.co/L6PI6OLwD1
— ABC Action News (@abcactionnews) September 9, 2016
When both parties agreed on the cost, Rachael – who studied marketing at the University of South Florida – met with the hitman a week ago near the 1200 block of 60th Ave W. in Bradenton and paid $1,000 as a down payment towards the murder-for-hire plot.
On Thursday, September 8, it was reported that she met with the hitman again and made another payment, but this time, she paid $1,500.
Each time, the down payment, which was an aggregate of $2,500, was paid in cash.
Details regarding how Rachael wanted the hitman to murder her ex-husband were not immediately available.
Just when Rachael thought she was one step closer to getting rid of her ex-husband and getting sole custody of their children, she was in for a surprise when the hitman placed her under arrest following their meet and greet.
— Isabel Mascarenas (@IMascarenas) September 8, 2016
Manatee County police officials say that Rachael was initially confused as to why she was being arrested, but she later uncovered that the hitman she hired to kill her ex-husband was actually an undercover police officer.
Rachael was seen leaving the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office in handcuffs with her head down as she was being escorted to the county jail.
She is being charged with “solicitation of premeditated murder.”
The murder-for-hire plot allegations stunned the Sarasota community, including a former neighbor, Gary Holloway, who told reporters that he recalled the pair being divorced and understood that they were in the midst of a “contentious custody battle.”
However, Holloway added that he would have never expected Rachael to turn to murder.
“I never thought she was on the verge of killing her husband,” Holloway said. “A lot of people are divorced, have children, and they don’t go around trying to kill their mate.”
Another neighbor, Lada Cida, stated that the notion of Rachael wanting her ex-husband dead so that she would get custody of their children is “crazy” and “scary.”
“I’m shocked. I’m not a fighter, so it’s hard to even think like that.”
In September 2011, court records indicate that David filed for a divorce and just three months later, Rachael filed a “domestic violence injunction against him,” which he violated sometime later.
Just a year later, David was “arrested for battery, and sued his ex-wife and a moving company.”
It appears the former couple has been feuding, as well as making frequent court appearances over the custody of their children since their divorce, according to WTSP.
After the woman’s arrest, police officials contacted David, informing him that his wife allegedly hired a hitman to kill him.
Reporters were able to track down the suspect’s ex-husband for questioning, but according to a guard at his gated home, David was not ready to discuss the murder-for-hire allegations.
Rachael is being held at the Manatee County Jail without bond and authorities say she is expected to appear before a judge Friday afternoon.
Further information is not being released at this time.
[Image via Facebook/Rachael Leahy]