47ºF

Jacksonville woman tries to hire hit man to kill husband, police say

JSO: Crystal Ely gives undercover officer posing as hit man jewelry as payment

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman was arrested after she attempted to hire an undercover officer posing as a hit man to kill her husband in exchange for jewelry, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Crystal Ely was booked Thursday into the Duval County jail on capital felony charges of criminal conspiracy and criminal solicitation. 

Ely, 29, is being held without bond, online jail records show.

According to her arrest report, an undercover investigation began after a man contacted the Sheriff's Office last month to report that Ely wanted him to try to help her find someone to murder her husband. 

Investigators said an undercover officer then met secretly with Ely three times at two different locations over a span of 10 days before making the arrest.

"Somebody’s reaching out to a third-party, says, ‘Hey, you want to help me kill my husband?’ That, generally speaking, most people don’t run around as murderers, so then they will turn around and the person they solicited will contact law enforcement who will put together their own case, with their own undercover agents," said Randy Reep, a Jacksonville attorney unaffiliated with the case. "(It's)  extraordinarily common.”

Detectives wrote in the arrest report that Ely offered an undisclosed amount of cash, along with jewelry.

"What’s fascinating is, many times, these are for extraordinarily low-offered sums of money -- single thousands of dollars, in many cases," Reep said, noting that it's very common for these types of cases to end with an arrest.

The report shows, at one of their meetings, Ely drew a diagram of the office where she and her husband worked. The arrest report states it’s a towing business.

According to the arrest report, when the undercover officer and Ely met in person for the third time, about noon on Thursday, Ely brought a pair of earrings and two rings as payment, as well as a photo of her husband. She was then taken into custody.

Reep said the witness who turned her in and the detectives at JSO likely prevented a man’s murder.

“Very often, we have cases where they're attempting to do this, where the innocent person, the person contacted if you will, reaches out to law enforcement and law enforcement does what they do," he said. "They protect the community.”

Reep pointed out the severity of these charges. He said it's likely, if found guilty, Ely could face up to 30 years in prison. 


About the Authors: