Traffic stop uncovered alleged murder plot, leads to ATF search of home
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - A traffic stop apparently foiled a murder-for-hire plot that started in Kentucky and was supposed to end in Charleston, according to federal court documents.
The federal court filing shows two men from Louisville and a Lowcountry woman were allegedly involved in a plot to kill the state Lottery Commission's treasurer, Nancy Latham.
The plot fell apart last Friday when one of the accused conspirators, 39-year-old Aaron Russell Wilkinson, was pulled over by police in a traffic stop. A search of the car Wilkinson was driving revealed a handgun and a box of ammunition, the documents state.
He was arrested for driving on a suspended license, the court documents show.
While in police custody, the documents state, Wilkinson told police he was in Charleston as part of a plot to kill a local woman - Latham - for money, adding that he had no intent to actually kill the woman, but was trying to make amends with the man who recruited him
Wilkinson's story led police to call ATF agents to look into the matter.
According to court documents, Wilkinson said 38-year-old Samuel Yenawine, also from Louisville, confronted Wilkinson last month and asked him to make a drive to Nashville to pick up two kilos of cocaine.
Once the trip was under way, Wilkinson told law enforcement that Yenawine said that he and Wilkinson were heading to South Carolina. According to the court documents, the trip was being made to kill a witness in a racketeering case, but that was not true.
The group arrived April 1 in North Charleston where they met with Wendy Annette Moore, Yenawine's ex-wife. Based on court documents, Moore is connected to Latham through an affair she was allegedly having with Chris Latham.
Wilkinson told agents he was in the rented car when Moore and Yenawine met up so that he could pick up $5,000 and two bottled of prescription drugs. The pills were supposed to be used to make the death look like an overdose, the report says.
According to Wilkinson's documented tale, he would get $5,000 for his effort; Yenawine would get upwards of $30,000 for his part in the death plot. There was no indication of who was paying the pair, however.
Wilkinson was handed $4,000 of his share with instructions to deposit it in his wife's bank account. The affidavit goes on to say that Wilkinson's wife and Yenawine's girlfriend would meet up and go to the bank together to withdraw the money.
Wilkinson said that was a problem because Yenawine's girlfriend is a drug addict, so Yenawine called her to tell her not to take the money out of the account.
When the pair met with Moore outside Latham's Sullivan's Island home, she gave them a packet of photos of Latham, her house and cars, and a documentation of her daily routine. According to the court documents, Wilkinson said that was when he found out Latham was the intended target.
The duo decided to make the return trip to Louisville that night.
According to the affidavit, Wilkinson said he was afraid of Yenawine, so he offered to return to Charleston to finish the job. He and his wife arrived in Charleston on April 3, rented another North Charleston hotel room and tried to come up with a new plan that would get him out of the murder plot without turning Yenawine's anger on him.
That led to Friday when Wilkinson was arrested for driving under a suspended license, which led to the documented confession. Wilkinson and Moore were arrested and taken to the Al Cannon Detention Center. Yenawine was arrested and taken to a jail in Oldham County, Ky.
The three were charged with conspiracy, aiding and abetting, and traveling in interstate commerce with the intent to commit murder. Wilkinson and Yenawine were also charged with possessing a firearm by a felon.
There are no documented charges against Wilkinson's wife.
On Thursday night, ATF agents and Charleston County deputies searched Chris Latham's home on Sullivan's Island, but officials have not released any information on why they were searching the home or what they found.
UPDATE: A search for more information from the courts Friday morning was thwarted when a federal judge sealed all documents concerning this case.