Fake death photos, undercover officer lead to charges in plan to kill ex-husband

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"Since I have been with the sheriff’s office, I have never participated in a case like this, " Brett Mason said.

Mason is the Chief Deputy Sheriff with the Le Sueur County Sheriff's Office in southern Minnesota, and has been with the agency for 12 years. He said there's been some homicides and "very serious, heinous crimes."

"But I don't ever remember investigating a murder-for-hire case, to be perfectly frank with you."

And two women, a mother and daughter, are now accused of trying to hire someone to kill the daughter's ex-husband over a custody dispute – after a quick-paced investigation that included an undercover officer posing as a hitman, and faked photos of the ex-husband dead.

The charges

Blanche Wilson, 41 years old, and her mother, 59-year-old Linda Bloom, were each charged Friday with one count of conspiracy to commit murder. (Click here to read the criminal complaint.)

Mason said his office got preliminary information last week, but the core of the investigation really started just two days ago. Things moved pretty quick from that point on, with both women criminally charged within a few days of an undercover officer first speaking with the suspects.

According to the charges:

The sheriff's office was tipped off to Wilson and Bloom's plan, which involved hiring someone to kill Wilson's ex-husband – who recently got custody of their three children.

An undeecover officer, while wearing a recording device, met Wilson and Bloom Wednesday around lunch time.

When asked what she wanted to happen to her ex-husband, Wilson told the undercover officer, "I want him dead."

He asked again for clarification later, and she said she had "never been so sure of anything in my life," and a third time when the undercover officer noted there's "no turning back," Wilson again confirmed that's what she wanted done.

Bloom meanwhile said they'd planned to do something similar earlier, but it fell through.

An investigator then got in touch with authorities in South Dakota, where the ex-husband lives. They staged a fake death scene with him, took photos, and provided them for the case.

The undercover officer showed Wilson those photos Thursday afternoon, and she called them "perfect." In exchange, she gave the officer a title for a car, and said she would have $7,000-$10,000 for him when a loan went through (which she had her grandmother co-sign to ensure it went through).

She then told the undercover officer she has an alibi for the past 24 hours, thanked him, and gave him a hug.

Both women were arrested Thursday evening in rural Le Sueur County, Mason said.

Why the fake death photos?

"Murder-for-hire investigations don't happen every day right," Mason said. "So our investigative team was looking for ways to make this a rock-solid case, and to make sure that we dotted our i's and crossed our t's."

Which is where the fake photos come in – it was thinking ahead to ensure that, when they brought evidence to a county attorney, charges would be likely.

"I think portraying that, those photographs, to our suspect, and having her answer those, or seeing what her joy was from that, really adds an element to this conspiracy for murder case," Mason said.

Wilson and Bloom were scheduled to be in court Friday. If convicted, each faces up to 20 years in prison.

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