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Press Release

Grand Jury Indicts Knoxville Woman Previously Arrested In Murder-For-Hire Plot

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On June 7, 2023, a federal grand jury in Knoxville returned a one-count indictment against Melody Sasser, 47, of Knoxville, TN, for use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1958.  Sasser was arrested on Thursday, May 18, 2023, pursuant to a criminal complaint.  The case has been assigned to Magistrate Judge Debra C. Poplin and District Court Judge Thomas A. Varlan.  An arraignment has been scheduled for June 21, 2023 at 1:30pm.

According to documents filed with the court, it is alleged that from December 31, 2022 through April 2023, Sasser contacted a dark web hosted site known as the Online Killers Market for the purpose of hiring a hitman to murder an Alabama resident.  In her communications with the site, Sasser provided photographs and location information of the victim.  Sasser paid nearly $10,000 in Bitcoin to the site administrators to purchase the services of a hitman.        

U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III of the Eastern District of Tennessee and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Rana Saoud and Acting Special Agent in Charge Travis Pickard made the announcement.                  

If convicted, Sasser faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison, $250,000 fine, restitution, and a maximum three-year term of supervised release.

This indictment is the result of an investigation by HSI Knoxville and HSI Birmingham, with the assistance of the Knoxville Police Department and the Prattville Alabama Police Department. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne-Marie Svolto will represent the United States. 

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Contact

Rachelle Barnes
Public Affairs Officer
(865) 545-4167

Updated June 7, 2023