KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today a Maryville, Mo., woman has been charged in federal court in a murder-for-hire scheme in which she negotiated with an undercover federal agent and, without realizing it, her intended victim.
Kristina M. Swinford, 32, of Maryville, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. Swinford was arrested on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, and remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014.
The federal criminal complaint charges Swinford with contacting two individuals to kill the wife of her ex-boyfriend. Her intended victim is identified in court documents as “AM.”
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Swinford met three times with an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to negotiate the murder-for-hire. Following her third meeting with the ATF agent, the affidavit says, Swinford also negotiated via Facebook with another person, without realizing that she was actually communicating with her intended victim, who had created an online profile under another person’s name.
On Aug. 25, 2014, a cooperating source in Taylor County, Iowa, reported to law enforcement authorities about traveling to Maryville and having a discussion with Swinford. According to the affidavit, Swinford complained about AM and made it clear she wanted AM kidnapped, killed or gone. AM had gone through a brief separation from her husband, the affidavit says, and during that time he was involved in a relationship with Swinford. AM and her husband had been granted ex parte orders of protection in an effort to keep Swinford from stalking or harassing them.
The cooperating source was instructed to meet with Swinford again and provide her with the contact information of an undercover ATF agent if she still wanted someone to kill AM. The undercover agent contacted Swinford on Aug. 28, 2014, and arranged to meet.
Swinford allegedly met with the undercover agent on three separate occasions, each time sitting in a vehicle in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Bethany, Mo., and discussed several scenarios for killing AM. Swinford allegedly agreed to pay $10,000 prior to AM being killed and another $10,000 afterward. She provided the undercover agent with a photo of AM, a map of her house and other information, the affidavit says. Swinford allegedly paid the undercover agent $150 for his expenses. At the third meeting on Sept. 10, 2014, the affidavit says, the undercover agent told Swinford he could pick up AM after she dropped her kids off at school, then kill her and cut off her hands and head and toss them into the river to make it look like Mexican drug dealers. Swinford allegedly agreed with this plan and the undercover agent told her to get a hold of him when she got the money.
On Sept. 19, 2014, AM reported to local law enforcement authorities that Swinford had been discussing AM’s murder on Facebook. According to the affidavit, AM had created a false Facebook account for a real person she knows, who is identified in the affidavit as WB. AM told authorities she created the account because her husband had blocked his Facebook account so she could not view her husband’s Facebook page.
AM reported that on Sept. 18, 2014, she had logged in to delete the fake account but found a message from Swinford from Aug. 9, 2014, addressed to whom Swinford clearly thought was the real WB. AM used the false Facebook account to engage Swinford in a lengthy conversation. During the conversation, the affidavit says, Swinford expressed her dislike for AM. According to AM, further in the conversation, she and Swinford discussed WB (the real person but fake Facebook account) harming her (AM).
AM told police that she was terrified and had no way of knowing if Swinford had spoken to anyone else about having her hurt or murdered. ATF agents had not notified AM or her husband that ATF had been conducting the investigation into Swinford hiring the undercover agent.
Dickinson cautioned that the charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alison Dunning. It was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Maryville, Mo., Department of Public Safety.