Utah Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Hire a Hitman

~2 min read | Published on 2023-12-07, tagged Murder-for-HirePleaded-Guilty using 314 words.

A Utah man pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hitman on a dark web murder-for-hire site to murder two people.

Christopher Pence, 43, of Utah, admitted he paid approximately $16,000 in bitcoin to the administrator of a murder-for-hire site as payment for a hit on a couple. Pence and the couple conflicted over the custody of children he and his family had adopted from the couple.
In September 2021, an informant sent the FBI chatlogs acquired from an undisclosed murder-for-hire site on the dark web. The chats revealed that Pence, the site's administrator, and another user of the site had been plotting the murder of the couple.
Pence sent the admin the names, address, and photographs of the plot's targets. He then asked that the hit be made to look like an accident or a robbery gone wrong. He also asked the administrator to ensure that three children under the couple's care were not harmed during the hit.
Pence deposited bitcoin worth $16,000 to the site as payment for the hit. Blockchain analysis led the investigators to Pence's account at an undisclosed cryptocurrency exchange. Further investigations revealed that the IP addresses used to access the account during the transfers were static IPs assigned to Pence.
The investigators contacted the targets of the murder-for-hire plot and established that Pence's family had adopted five of the target's children. The targets of the plot had reportedly angered Pence for wanting to regain custody of their children.
The victims also told the investigators that they had provided the photos uploaded to the murder-fo-hire site to Pence's family for use in a baby book.
The FBI arrested Pence on October 27, 2021. On being questioned, Pence reportedly admitted to being the orchestrator of the murder-for-hire scheme.
Pence pleaded guilty to one count of use of interstate facilities to commit murder-for-hire. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.