News and Press Releases

Kansas man pleads guilty to murder-for-hire scheme

October 2, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – David M. Ketchmark, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Basehor, Kan., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to attempting to hire a man to kill his wife.

Lee D. Smith, 38, of Basehor, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips to the charge contained in a May 23, 2012, federal indictment.

Smith admitted that he contacted a Kansas City, Mo., man (who is only identified in the plea agreement as a confidential informant) on May 9, 2012, about hiring the man to kill his wife. On the same day, Smith drove to a bus stop near Brush Creek and Highway 71 in Kansas City, Mo., to pick up the man. Smith drove him to an office building in Overland Park, Kan., where his wife worked. Smith pointed out the door she used to enter the building, showed the man where she parked her vehicle, and described the type of vehicle she would be driving. Smith gave the man a physical description of his wife and told him what time she usually arrived at work in the morning. Smith told the man that he would pay him $1,500 to kill his wife when she arrived at the work the next day (May 10, 2012).

The man informed the Kansas City Police Department about Smith’s plan to murder his wife. Following police instructions, he called Smith on May 11, 2012, and told him that he had abducted both his wife and daughter. Smith told the man to release his daughter but to kill his wife. Later on the same day, the man, following police instructions, again called Smith and told him that he had killed Smith’s wife; he demanded $1,800 for doing this.

Smith agreed to meet the man later that day at a grocery store in Kansas City, Mo., and pay him the $1,800 for murdering his wife. Following this conversation, Smith went to his bank and cashed a check for $1,600.  Later that morning, the Kansas City Police Department asked Smith to come to police headquarters so they could give him “news” about his wife. When Smith arrived at police headquarters he was arrested.

Under federal statutes, Smith is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney D. Michael Green. It was investigated by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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