Rachael Natalie Leahy, the Manatee County woman charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband, wanted him gone so she could have custody of their children, but maybe he didn’t have to die. Maybe, she told an undercover detective she thought was a killer for hire, he could be “kidnapped and taken to other country and made into a sex slave.”
There also may have been a second person on her hit list.
After rejecting the sex slave idea as unrealistic, Leahy, 34, paid the undercover detective a total of $2,500, half of the $5,000 she agreed to pay to have her 59-year-old ex-husband killed, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said .
Depending how that went, Leahy also told the detective she might have another “job” for him.
Leahy was arrested Thursday.
On Friday, Leahy appeared before Manatee County Judge Robert Farrance for an initial hearing. Farrance set her bond at $100,000 with the conditions that she also be placed on supervised release, wear an ankle monitoring device, surrender her passport, surrender any weapons or firearms and have no contact with her ex-husband.
“I agree to all the stipulations, your honor, but I can’t do a bond that high,” Leahy said.
Leahy told Farrance that she was on food stamps, occasionally stayed with a male friend and didn’t have a job but sometimes did auto detailing to earn gas money.
Assistant State Attorney Darlene Ragoonanan had asked for a $1 million bond, in addition to all the conditions, because Leahy had plans to leave the country at the time of her arrest, she said.
“During the investigation, it was discovered that she had plans to leave the country today out of Miami and not return next Friday,” Detective Angel Posada-Wilcher said in court Friday.
At the time of her arrest, Leahy had her passport with her and had her bags packed and ready to go, he added.
“I’m struggling right now,” Leahy told Farrance when he asked what she did for income.
Defense attorney Brett McIntosh, who was representing Leahy for the purposes of her first appearance, argued that she clearly was not a flight risk even though she had plans to leave the country because she also had a return date. But he agreed to the passport forfeiture. He also argued that a more reasonable bond of $25,000 be set, given her financial situation.
“The defendant easily came up with $1,000 and then $1,500 in this case as part of the [murder for hire] deal,” Ragoonanan said. “So she obviously has some access to money.”
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office on Friday released a probable cause affidavit for the case, including accounts of telephone conversations and meetings between Leahy and the undercover detective.
The sheriff’s office, according to the affidavit, started its investigation on Aug. 22, after receiving a tip that she was trying to have her ex-husband killed. The informant was asked to pass on an undercover telephone number to Leahy, and she called on Aug. 23 and was told to be available for a subsequent call on Aug. 25. The undercover detective called and texted her, and she responded later in the day, and a meeting was set up for Aug. 29.
Driving a black BMW, Leahy on Aug. 29 met with the undercover detective at a location in the 1200 block of 60th Avenue West in Bradenton. During the meeting, Leahy told the detective that she knew the sex slave idea was not realistic, and that she would leave it up to him to decide what to do. Maybe, she said, he could die in an “accident” or in a fire.
“She stated that if it was a vehicle accident, there could be no guarantee that he died from that. Rachael described that she needs certainty and he must die,” the affidavit states.
Leahy told the detective that she was the beneficiary of her ex-husband’s life insurance policy and that she would use the proceeds to pay for his murder. The detective asked her if she would be willing to pay $5,000 to have him killed, and she said yes. She then provided the detective with information about her ex-husband, including his address, work information, habits, his spouse’s information and the school their children attend, the report states.
The detective “explained to Rachael that she could let him know if she changed her mind or wanted to go with someone else, but Rachael described that she was there because she had made up her mind to do this,” the affidavit states.
The detective told Leahy to bring photographs of her ex-husband, a copy of their divorce papers detailing the life insurance policy and a $1,000 cash deposit to a meeting set up for Sept. 1.
At the subsequent meeting, Leahy provided the cash and other items, and said “she could not imagine the situation would have come to this.” The detective said she could change her mind, but she said she hadn’t.
“She said she wants her kids back and she has played nice for too long.”
A third meeting was scheduled for last Thursday.
At that meeting, Leahy paid the detective an additional $1,500.
Leahy and the detective then discussed her plans to leave the country on Friday, and how the murder would happen while she was gone and that she would have to pay the balance of the $5,000 after her return.
“Prior to the conclusion of the meeting, Rachael told the [detective] that she may have another ‘job’ for him to do. An unknown individual was holding money that belonged to her and she was upset about it,” the report states.
The detective and Leahy “then discussed meeting after the murder of [the ex-husband] to discuss future negotiations if she was satisfied with its outcome.”