Pediatrician Tried to Hire Hitman to Murder Her Ex-Husband: DOJ

A pediatrician in Kentucky has been accused of trying to hire a hitman to kill her ex-husband, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday.

Federal prosecutors allege that on May 15, 2022, 52-year-old Stephanie Russell “contacted someone she believed she was hiring to murder her ex-husband.” This person was actually an undercover agent of the FBI (UCE), the DOJ explained.

“Although we don’t have US statistics, research from the Australian Institute of Criminality estimates that around 2 to 4 percent of their murders are paid for,” said Dr. Joni E Johnston. “Nearly 20% of ‘successful contracts’ – the target died – were motivated by a romantic relationship gone awry; 16 percent were financially motivated.”

doctor stethoscope pediatrician
A Kentucky pediatrician has been accused of trying to hire a hitman to murder her ex-husband. Above, a junior doctor wears a stethoscope and a plaque with the slogan ‘I support #juniordoctors’ outside Guys hospital, as junior doctors held a 24-hour NHS-wide on January 12, 2016 in Birmingham, UK go on strike.
Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

The plot

“Russell eventually agreed to pay the UCE $7,000 in exchange for her ex-husband’s murder. On May 18, 2022, Russell placed $3,500 in a mailbox outside her doctor’s office as half of the payment.

She agreed to pay the other half once the murder took place,” prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kentucky’s Western District wrote in a news release on Friday.

The fees

Russell was arrested by the FBI on Thursday and brought to court on Friday.

She was charged with using interstate trade facilities with the Commission on Contract Killings and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted, according to the DOJ. The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department.

According to news channel WLKY, Russell is a pediatrician who works at a practice called Kidzlife Pediatrics in Prospect, Kentucky.

news week couldn’t immediately find information about who is representing Russell in court, and her pediatric practice was closed when she was reached Friday afternoon.

contract killing

Fortunately, said Dr. Johnston: “Most schemes don’t end in death, and even when they do, the conspirator seldom gets away with it. Here’s why:

  • Because few homicide experts have a criminal background, they don’t know where to find someone willing to kill for money and tend to turn to acquaintances, neighbors, or other inept or inexperienced individuals to do their dirty work take care of.
  • Most acquaintances or neighbors are unwilling to do this dirty work and tend to call the police to express their concerns.
  • The Mastermind has already told every Tom, Dick, and Harry that he wishes the target would drop dead, so if it does, he’ll be the prime suspect immediately.”

Case in point: In February, a 14-year-old girl was arrested after allegedly trying to hire a hitman to kill her ex-boyfriend. Baton Rouge police arrested her for murder. Officials were first notified when an administrator at the satirical website told them the girl had come forward.

Also in February, a Florida woman was accused of using a federal pandemic relief loan to hire a hitman to kill a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent.

Pediatrician tried to hire Hitman: DOJ
A pediatrician in Kentucky allegedly tried to hire a hitman to kill her ex-husband, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said Friday. Above: The courtyard of Robert F. Kennedy’s Department of Justice building on April 1 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla

Authorities claim she used part of the $15,000 she received to support her beauty salon during the pandemic to hire someone to shoot the TSA agent as she walked to her apartment.

In November, a detainee was charged after he allegedly participated in an assassination attempt and attempted to kill the federal prosecutor and a key witness in a case, resulting in a 10-year prison sentence.

South Carolina prosecutors said the man made calls from a bootleg cellphone to set up the murder and sent a check for $2,000 from his prison canteen account as a down payment for the hit-and-run. US prosecutors said the FBI was posing as a killer in the case. Pediatrician Tried to Hire Hitman to Murder Her Ex-Husband: DOJ

Rick Schindler

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