Public Safety

Traer man charged with hiring someone to kill ex-wife, boyfriend

Hired hit man turns out to be undercover officer

A Traer man, while behind bars serving time on a gun conviction, hired a hit man in May to kill his ex-wife and her boyfriend.

What Jason Troy Harriman didn’t know was that the man was actually an undercover police officer, who gave Harriman multiple chances to not go through with the crime. Harriman, however, followed through and even sealed the murder-for-hire scheme by signing a contract, an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court shows.

During a brief preliminary hearing Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Morfitt asked U.S. Chief Magistrate CJ Williams to consider the information in the affidavit for the criminal complaint to make a probable cause ruling. Morfitt didn’t have any further evidence or argument to present.

Christopher Nathan, Harriman’s lawyer, said he also had no evidence or argument to present.

Williams said he found probable cause that Harriman, 44, committed the alleged crimes. The affidavit established Harriman from prison hired someone to kill his ex-wife and her boyfriend.

Williams said Harriman will remain in jail pending trial, which hasn’t been set at this time.

Special Agent Everett Wayland with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, in the affidavit for the criminal complaint, said Harriman, while serving a 10-1/2 year sentence for two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm at Forrest City Federal Correction Institution in Arkansas, repeatedly asked another inmate to get him in touch with someone to kill his ex-wife and her boyfriend, who lived in Iowa.

Agents provided the inmate with a phone number of the undercover officer to pass on to Harriman, Wayland said. The inmate told agents that Harriman was also threatening the woman in emails and phone calls from the prison. He apparently blamed her for him being in prison, the inmate said.

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On Feb. 28, the undercover officer received a call from Harriman and then the two began exchanging emails in which Harriman provided information about his ex-wife, according to court documents.

Harriman, during the emails and phone calls with the officer, spoke in “code” about the targets, which is common for people who are involved in “nefarious” activities, Wayland said. Harriman referred to his ex-wife and her boyfriend as “two areas of interest or properties” and one will “need to be completely demolished and the other will do a little facial remodeling.”

The undercover officer continued phone conversations with Harriman through March and April and they discuss payment arrangements. Harriman talked about selling his car for down payment. Later in April, when the undercover officer visits Harriman at the prison, Harriman starts wavering about what he wants done to his ex-wife. The undercover officer, who is covertly audio recording their meeting, repeatedly tells Harriman he can back out and not do anything.

Harriman begins to suspect the man is with law enforcement but the officer convinces him he is not, according to court documents. The officer then tells him it will cost him $25,000 if both are killed together or $45,000 if they are separate, according to court documents.

The officer then suggests that he should think about it and if Harriman decides to hire him he will have to sign a contract. Harriman eventually signs the contract, indicating he wants the two killed together for $21,000.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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