What to know: The FBI and the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office are investigating what federal prosecutors say was a bizarre murder-for-hire plot concocted by an Acworth man while sitting in the Bartow County Jail on drug and other charges unrelated to what has been described as a planned murder of his ex-wife. From his jail cell, authorities say Michael Lawrence Dane McEarchern arranged to have $800 of the $10,000 bounty sent to the “assassin.” The payment also was to include two Atlanta Hawks’ tickets.
Media release: Michael McEarchern has been arraigned on federal charges for attempting to use the U.S. mail and telephone communications to hire someone to kill his ex-wife. McEarchern was indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 3.
“This defendant’s alleged actions indicate that he was serious about having his ex-wife murdered,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “By providing an address and up-front money for the would-be assassin, McEarchern left little doubt that if the threat had not been discovered he may have found someone to carry out the heinous deed.”
“This case is another example of the lengths the FBI will go, to protect the citizens of this country,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The arrest demonstrates how law enforcement, working together with concerned citizens, can hold criminals accountable and prevent violence from happening in our communities.”
According to Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court:
- McEarchern was an inmate at the jail in Bartow County having been arrested on drugs charges in October 2017.
- While incarcerated, McEarchern reached out to several individuals trying to find someone who could arrange for the murder of his ex-wife, who lived in Cobb County.
- One individual told a friend of McEarchern’s desire to kill his ex-wife, and that person reported the crime to the FBI.
- To ensure that McEarchern was serious about seeking someone to carry out the murder, the FBI waited for McEarchern to reach out to the informant, which he did.
- Believing that he was setting up the killing of his ex-wife, McEarchern agreed to pay $10,000 in cash and two tickets to an Atlanta Hawks basketball game in payment.
- Additionally, to show that he was serious, he had $800 in cash mailed to the assassin.
- Jail recordings captured McEarchern providing the address to the person who he asked to mail the money for him.
- The FBI retrieved an envelope containing the $800 with a return address of the person who sent the money on McEarchern’s instruction.
- The defendant also provided an address where the assassin could find the ex-wife.
Michael McEarchern, 29, of Acworth was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson. Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the FBI with help from the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim S. Dammers is prosecuting the case.