A woman went on the dark web looking to hire a hitman “for a simple quick job”, US federal prosecutors said.
Now, she could go to prison after being accused of paying in Bitcoin, a virtual currency, to have a man shot and killed at his workplace, a department store in central Virginia, court docs show. Ultimately, the plot was unsuccessful.
Annie Nicole Ritenour, 27, of Culpeper, Virginia, pleaded guilty May 31 to one count of using interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia said in a June 1 news release.
Ritenour is facing 36 to 87 months in prison, according to officials.
McClatchy News contacted Ritenour’s public defender, Erin Trodden, for comment June 2 and didn’t immediately receive a response.
‘Can kill any person you want’
Ritenour is accused of visiting a website that advertises murder-for-hire services, prosecutors say.
On the site’s homepage, it says “(W)e can kill any person you want, as long as it is not a president or very important person that is guarded by the military,” according to court documents.
The website also advertises it can make murders “look accidental” and carry out kidnappings, beatings, arson and more, court docs say.
However, what Ritenour didn’t know was despite the website’s listed services, such services were never carried out after interested customers paid for them, according to an affidavit.
“Thousands of happy customers recommend our products and services such as drugs, guns, assault, arson, and murder,” the website also says, according to prosecutors.
On June 23, 2021, and June 24, 2021, Ritenour paid the website US$3,200 (RM14,648) in Bitcoin as payment for murder services, an agreed upon statement of facts filed May 31 in court says.
A day later, a website administrator, who identified himself as “Juan” from the “Sinaloa Cartel Cyberteam,” let Ritenour know they were aware she made a payment, according to the statement of facts.
The next day, Ritenour created an account on the website and put in an “order” for a hitman titled, “shoot and get away,” prosecutors said.
She included a photo of the target, listed the address of his work and work hours, and described his car and license plate number, the affidavit says.
“The days/time I mentioned will be the best time and place, I would say wait until he’s off at 3 and then make your move,” Ritenour wrote, according to the affidavit.
A few months later, FBI Charlottesville got a tip from FBI Knoxville that a confidential source informed them about how Ritenour had requested murder-for-hire services on the website, according to the affidavit.
Ritenour was ultimately arrested. She told investigators she was angry at the man she wanted killed and that’s why she submitted Bitcoin payments to the website, the statement of facts says.
As of the afternoon of June 2, Ritenour’s sentencing hearing date wasn’t listed.
Culpeper is about 45 miles northeast of Charlottesville. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service