Last November, an inmate in the Bartow County jail in Cartersville put out the word that he was looking for someone “to take out his wife.”
But the assassin he thought he was contacting through a Rocky Face, Georgia, post office box was really an FBI agent, according to an affidavit filed by the FBI in federal court in Atlanta.
On Jan. 3, a federal grand jury indicted Cobb County resident Michael McEarchern, 29, on a murder-for-hire charge, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak announced Monday.
“This defendant’s alleged actions indicate that he was serious about having his ex-wife murdered,” Pak said. “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.”
McEarchern allegedly began seeking an assassin last fall while jailed on drug charges, according to Pak and court documents. While in jail, McEarchern allegedly reached out to people in an attempt to find someone who could arrange for the murder of his ex-wife, who lived in Cobb County.
He was willing to pay between $5,000 and $10,000 to get the job done. And, as part of the deal, he also wanted his wife’s boyfriend killed, the FBI affidavit said.
Eventually, McEarchern agreed to pay $10,000 in cash and give two tickets to an Atlanta Hawks basketball game, according to the federal prosecutor. McEarchern is also accused of making an $800 down payment as demonstration of his intent.
McEarchern is also accused of using his current girlfriend, a bartender at a Cobb County hotel, as the contact for the planned hit, according to the FBI. No federal charges were filed against McEarchern’s girlfriend as of Tuesday.
Smyrna police were already familiar with the boyfriend of McEarchern’s ex-wife, according to the FBI affidavit. He was previously shot several times but survived. The affidavit said police have evidence indicating McEarchern hired someone to kill him, the affidavit said.
McEarchern is represented by Smyrna attorney Kenneth Sheppard. He could not be reached for comment.
The Cobb County murder-for-hire allegations surfaced shortly before the 25th anniversary of another infamous Cobb County murder-for-hire. Fred Tokars, a Cobb County lawyer who worked for the Fulton County district attorney, arranged for the murder of his wife, Sara Tokars.
In November 1992, Sara Tokars and the couple’s two sons, ages 4 and 6, were kidnapped by a man hired by their occasional handyman after they returned from a Thanksgiving vacation in Florida. Fred Tokars was not at home when his family was taken captive. Sara Tokars was gunned down in her car in front of her two children, who were not injured.
In 1994, Fred Tokars, who before he had his wife killed was incorporating nightclubs in order to launder money for some of Atlanta’s largest illegal drug traffickers, was convicted on federal racketeering charges that included his wife’s murder-for-hire.
When she was killed, Sara Tokars was seeking information about her husband that would convince him to give her a divorce while allowing her to retain custody of the couple’s two sons, but she stumbled on at least two bank accounts under fabricated names in the Cayman Islands. She was killed as a federal grand jury investigated several of Fred Tokars’ drug dealer clients.
Tokars was given a nonparoleable life sentence. He was convicted on state murder charges in 1997 stemming from his wife’s slaying, but the jury declined to sentence him to death.