KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Maryville, Mo., woman was sentenced in federal court today for a murder-for-hire scheme in which she negotiated with an undercover federal agent and, without realizing it, her intended victim.
Kristina M. Swinford, 33, of Maryville, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to eight years and six months in federal prison without parole.
Swinford, who pleaded guilty on May 20, 2015, admitted that she contacted two individuals to kill the wife of her ex-boyfriend. Her intended victim is identified in court documents as “AM.”
According to court documents, 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, 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. 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, according to court documents, and during that time he was involved in a relationship with Swinford. After C.M. broke up with her, both AM and CM reported harassment and stalking behavior by 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 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 discussed several ways in which the undercover agent could gain access to AM suggesting that he make it appear that AM was killed in a drug deal gone bad, that AM be kidnapped from her house or kidnapped while she was walking (so there would be no blood at AM’s house). Swinford also discussed several ways in which AM would actually be murdered, suggesting that AM be shot, beaten and shot a couple times then thrown in the river or buried, that she be shot in the face and the chest or maybe both times in the face, or that AM be provided a lethal dose of drugs. Swinford told the undercover agent that she wanted AM to suffer and that AM should be beaten for five to 10 minutes before she was killed.
Swinford 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. At the third meeting on Sept. 10, 2014, 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 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 court documents, AM had created a false Facebook account for a real person she knows, who is identified in court documents 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, 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.
This case was 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.