NC woman accused in murder-for-hire plot against ex-husband, new family

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (WBTV) – A Mooresville woman is facing charges after federal investigators say she tried to hire a hitman to kill her ex-husband and his new family.

According to a newly released affidavit, 56-year-old Debra Arno, of Mooresville, was arrested and charged with federal murder-for-hire.

According to the FBI, an investigation began in late May when police in Kenmore, New York got a tip about a murder for hire plan.

The tipster told officers that Kenmore resident, Lauren Frye, agreed to kill or hurt Arno’s ex-husband and family, including his new wife and their daughter.

The tipster reportedly had seen hand written letters detailing the schedule and location of the family, along with photos, according to the FBI.

Police contacted Arno’s ex-husband and his new wife and told them about the plot against their lives. That’s when her ex told police that Arno struggles with mental illness.

According to the affidavit, unsealed Tuesday, investigators searched Frye’s home and found the letters in the bedroom of her apartment.

Investigators also found photographs of Arno’s ex-husband and his wife, a diagram of their home and a schedule of his evening activities at the home.

They also confiscated two cell phones and three shotguns from Frye’s home, according to the affidavit.

“I am enclosing $6,000, Arno stated in one letter found by investigators. “I will give you an additional $14,000 upon completion. A total of $20,000. A man, his description, and address enclosed is to be eliminated of hurt. He lives with 2 other people. Both expendable (if there is an accident).”

According to the affidavit, there were also handwritten notes found noting “bullet proof over coats” and “use armor piercing bullets.”

Investigators say letters between Arno and Frye started as early as February 9, 2015.

Federal officials also say they found a travel itinerary indicating that Frye flew into the Charlotte airport in mid-April.

According to the affidavit, federal investigators also obtained text messages between Frye and a contact listed as “Chickie.” The number reportedly matched a number provided by a family member as Arno’s cell phone.

Frye was arrested by Kenmore Police and charged with conspiracy and aggravated harassment.

Arno, who was in the Buffalo area at the time, was arrested on May 30 at the FBI building. Her charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She has been held in custody since her arrest.

Both were indicted by a federal grand jury in June.

Copyright 2015 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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