Man arrested in murder-for-hire of mistress's rival

3rd arrest made in May 9 murder-for-hire slaying of 44-year-old Velvet Burns

By Erik Avanier - Reporter, Frank Powers - Assignment manager

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One day after a woman pleaded guilty to hiring someone to kill the wife of her boyfriend, Jacksonville police announced the arrest of a man they believe killed Velvet Burns.

Stephen Hand, 37, is charged with second-degree murder in the May 9 killing of the mother of two. Police said they have a witness to the stabbing who saw Hand destroying evidence. Investigators said there is also forensic evidence placing Hand at the victim's home. 

Hand has been in custody since May 29 on a violation of probation charge.

Amanda Love, 31, along with the victim's husband, 50-year-old Jerry Burns, were arrested after Velvet Burns was found dead May 9 in the couple's Westside home

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Jerry Burns was having an affair with Love and paid her $5,000 to arrange for others to kill his wife and make it look like a burglary. 

According to Love's police arrest report, she hired two men who were told they'd get more money when Jerry Burns collected on his wife's life insurance.

Hand is being held without bond in the Duval County jail. Jerry Burns is also in jail, charged with second-degree murder. Love is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 10, also on a charge of second-degree murder

WATCH: Man, 37, arrested in murder-for-hire | Police make 3rd arrest in murder-for-hire

News4Jax learned that Hand and Love were engaged at one point and that Hand is the father of three of Love's five children. Court records show that their relationship was, at times, violent.

Among Hand's numerous previous arrests was a battery charge last October in which Love was listed as the victim. The following day, Love filed an injunction against Hand, describing the level of his violence and requesting that he get help.

Velvet BurnsA neighbor recalled Wednesday what Velvet Burns (pictured, right) was like.

“Very sweet lady," neighbor Hope Simmons said. "Just your all-around great mother. (She) dedicated her life to her kids.”

Police said Hand and the victim did not know each other

"It doesn’t make any sense to me because, first of all, what do you have now?" Simmons said. "Now, you still have nothing. You don’t even have your freedom.”

According to a neighbor who has spoken to detectives and been in contact with Velvet Burns’ family, the Sheriff's Office may be looking for a fourth suspect in Velvet Burns' slaying, but police have not confirmed that.

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