Feds: Murder-for-hire suspect was living with target's husband

Moore, Yenawine, and Wilkinson.
Moore, Yenawine, and Wilkinson.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The woman federal investigators have accused of plotting to murder a Charleston-area woman was living with and working for the intended target's estranged husband, court testimony revealed on Thursday.

During a federal preliminary court hearing for 37-year-old Wendy Annette Moore, an ATF agent said Moore had recruited her ex-husband, 38-year-old Samuel Arthur Yenawine, to kill her lover's estranged wife. The murder was set to be carried out last Sunday, one day before the estranged couple was set to appear in family court for divorce proceedings.

Yenawine, who lives in Kentucky, recruited an ex-cell mate, 39-year-old Aaron Wilkinson, to help him with the job, according to investigators.

The target of the plot expressed her shock at seeing photos of her and her family, which investigators said Moore provided gave to Yenawine on Apr. 1.

Agents say the plot fell apart when Wilkinson became concerned for his safety because of Yenawine's actions. Wilkinson told investigators he was able to convince Yenawine that he would carry out the hit himself, but the plot was foiled last Friday after he confessed to Charleston police following his arrest for driving under suspension.

Agents were able to convince Wilkinson to making a recorded phone call to Yenawine. Agents said during the conversation, Yenawine said, "I have no way to communicate [with Moore] because she ain't got no phone…I told her to get rid of that phone." He continued, "You going to make it work right?"

At that point, Wilkinson asked Yenawine if he could "pop" the woman when her children were with her in the car. "I don't give a (expletive)…it will look better," investigators said he answered.

Yenawine then reminded Wilkinson that the car Palmer rented had to be returned by Sunday, according to court documents, which also state he told Wilkinson to get rid of the gun. When Wilkinson said he would throw the gun in the water, investigators said Yenawine answered, "Yeah, I mean why wouldn't you?"

Yenawine then agreed to send Wilkinson about $300, ATF agents said. It is unclear how much money Yenawine and Wilkinson were to be paid.

It is also unknown where that money was coming from.

All three suspects have been charged with conspiracy to use, and use of interstate commerce facilities, in the commission of murder-for-hire and aiding and abetting. Wilkinson and Yenawine are also charged with felon in possession of a firearm.

During Thursday's hearing, the judge ruled there was probable cause for the case to go to trial. The judge also ordered Moore to remain behind bars, saying she was a flight risk.

Moore's close friend and 18-year-old daughter cried as they pleaded with the judge to allow Moore to return home.

Yenawine remains behind bars in the Oldham County Detention Center, located in the Louisville area.

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