Michigan mother Julia Merfeld tried to hire hit man to kill her husband because 'it's easier than a divorce'

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  • Julia Merfeld, 21, pleaded guilty to soliciting a murder and could face up to life in prison
  • Arrested in April after meeting up twice with undercover detective posing as a hit man
  • Young wife was hoping to collect her husband's $400,000 life insurance, of which $50,000 was supposed to go to the hit man

By Snejana Farberov

PUBLISHED: 09:09 EST, 9 July 2013 | UPDATED: 06:35 EST, 10 July 2013

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Murder for hire: Julia Merfeld, 21, pleaded guilty to soliciting a murder after she was caught on hidden camera hiring an undercover detective to kill her husband

Murder for hire: Julia Merfeld, 21, pleaded guilty to soliciting a murder after she was caught on hidden camera hiring an undercover detective to kill her husband

Julia Merfeld, a 21-year-old married mother of two from Michigan, did not want to break her husband’s heart by divorcing him – so she decided to have him killed instead, according to investigators. 

Merfeld has pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder of her 27-year-old husband following an investigation that included videotaped meetings with an undercover police detective posing as a hit man.

On the video, the Muskegon resident is heard telling the undercover officer that the killing would be ‘easier than divorcing him.’

Merfeld said that she and her husband had been fighting, and that she had been thinking about having him killed for a while because if he was dead, she wouldn’t have to worry about her family’s judgment or ‘breaking his heart.’

Two videos made in April were released to The Muskegon Chronicle by prosecutors.

The 21-year-old woman pleaded guilty June 27 to soliciting a murder. She’s jailed ahead of sentencing July 30 and is expected to face up to a life in prison.

Authorities say she wanted her husband’s $400,000 life insurance policy, and promised to pay the would-be hit man $50,000 for the killing in several $9,000 installments.

Police became aware of Mrs Merfeld's plot to have her husband killed when they were tipped off by her co-worker, Carlos Ramos.

According to Ramos, the 21-year-old woman offered him $50,000 for the hit, but he called police and helped set up a meeting between Merfeld and an undercover detective posing as a prospective assassin.

The woman and the man she thought to be a gun-for-hire met on April 9 and 10 in his car. Unbeknownst to Merfeld, both meetings were recorded on a hidden camera.

Scroll down for undercover video

Sting: Merfeld's co-worker tipped off police about the woman's deadly plot and helped set up a meeting between her and an undercover officer posing as a prospective hit man in April

Sting: Merfeld's co-worker tipped off police about the woman's deadly plot and helped set up a meeting between her and an undercover officer posing as a prospective hit man in April

In cold blood:  The young married mother could be seen smiling broadly and laughing while discussing how and when her husband would be killed

Scheduling: At one point, Merfeld pulled out her smartphone to choose the perfect day on the calendar for her husband's murder

Scheduling: At one point, Merfeld pulled out her smartphone to choose the perfect day on the calendar for her husband's murder

Detail-oriented: Merfeld could be seen ticking off on her fingers the items she has to bring for her next meeting with the hit man the following day

Detail-oriented: Merfeld could be seen ticking off on her fingers the items she has to bring for her next meeting with the hit man the following day

 

In the videos, the 21-year-old mother of two could be seen grinning while discussing the details of the hit on her 27-year-old husband in a detached, matter-of-fact way.

'When I first decided to do this … it’s not that we weren’t getting along,' she says on the video. 'But … terrible as it sounds, it was easier than divorcing him.

'You know, I didn’t have to worry about the judgment of my family, I didn’t have to worry about breaking his heart, all that stuff like this. It’s, like, how I got a clean getaway.'

During the two meetings, the woman calmly tells the hit man that the best time to kill her husband would be on a Thursday. At one point, she could be seen checking the calendar on her smartphone covered with a Batman sticker for the optimal date for the assassination. 

Getting down to details, Merfeld explains that she is reluctant to stage the murder as a burglary gone awry because she is worried that it would scare off her friend, whom she wanted to move in with her after her husband's death.

During the second meeting on April 10, Merfeld, sporting a Batman sweatshirt and a pair of pink sweatpants, stresses several times that she does not want her spouse to suffer, and that she wants him to die as painlessly as possible.

She even suggests to the would-be assassin that the best method would be to break her husband's neck, but the undercover detective tells Merfeld that he would prefer to use either a gun or a knife.

In response, the 21-year-old chooses the gun and calmly says ‘OK’ when the detective tells her that he will shoot her spouse in the face. 

Final preparations: Merfeld turned up for the second meeting with hand-written notes outlining their floor plan and the directions to their home

Final preparations: Merfeld turned up for the second meeting with hand-written notes outlining their floor plan and the directions to their home

Blood money: The 21-year-old was asked to pay the assassin $100 as a down payment on the $50,000 contract

Blood money: The 21-year-old was asked to pay the assassin $100 as a down payment on the $50,000 contract

Moment of doubt: During her second meeting with the 'killer,' Merfeld appears to have second thoughts about the plot (left), but she quickly goes back on track with the plan to have her husband shot in the head

Merfeld says that she doesn’t want to know exactly when or how the murder would happen and that ‘it would better if you surprised me.’

‘The more shocked I am when it happens, the better,’ she tells the hit man. ‘I just want to make it as non-suspicious as possible.’

In their first conversation, the young mother tells the hit man that she would prefer the deed to be done outside their West Forest Avenue home, explaining with a laugh that a shooting indoors 'would be messy in the house.' 

When Merfeld meets up with the detective the following day, carrying a floor plan of their home and directions to the house drawn on lined notebooks sheets, as well as her husband’s' photo, the two decide that the best option is to have Mr Merfeld killed inside the apartment  while she is at work.

To make it look like a home invasion gone wrong, the killer will steal items such as a computer. Merfeld also could be seen handing the detective $100 as a down payment to prove to him that she is serious about the hit.

At no point during her two encounters with the fake assassin does the 21-year-old wife complain about her husband or cite a specific reason for her decision to have him killed beyond her desire to collect his life insurance.

In the course of the second meeting with the cop, Merfeld briefly appears to have second thoughts about the plan.

After the assassin tells her repeatedly that he is going to put two bullets in her husband's 'noggin' and that 'he's gonna dies,' she smiles nervously and tells him ' it makes me sad.' A few minutes later, she adds, as if thinking out loud, ' it's a bad idea for me.'

End game: The 21-year-old Muskegon woman was arrested and pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder of her 27-year-old husband

End game: The 21-year-old Muskegon woman was arrested and pleaded guilty to soliciting the murder of her 27-year-old husband

Mercy: Merfeld's husband and the target of her murder plot asked the judge to spare her jail time, but she could face up to a life in prison when sentenced July 30

Mercy: Merfeld's husband and the target of her murder plot asked the judge to spare her jail time, but she could face up to a life in prison when sentenced July 30

But not before long, Ms Merfeld appears to be back on track with her deadly plot after the undercover cop stresses that after today, she won't be able to call off the hit even if she has a change of heart at some point before the date chosen for the killing.

Merfled then asks the bogus killer, 'What happens if you get caught?' in response, the man reassures her that he will 'take the hit' and keep her name out of the investigation so long as she pays him or his associates ‘on the outside’ the agreed upon sum of $50,000.

The second meeting concludes with the hit man and his client shaking hands and him wishing Merfeld luck.

'Thank you. Good luck to you, too,' she replies with a smile as she exits the car.

The 21-year-old wife and mother was arrested a short time later and booked into the Muskegon County Jail.

After the murder plot was uncovered, Merfled's husband appealed to the judge to spare his wife any jail time. Instead, Judge William Marietti decided to cap the defendant's minimum sentence to six years. She could face up to life in prison when she is sentenced July 30.   
  

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