Trio arrested in alleged murder-for-hire scheme of well-known Charleston-area woman
Three people have been arrested after federal investigators said they were part of a plot to kill an Isle of Palms real-estate agent and state lottery official for money.
The target was Nancy Latham, according to an affidavit filed in federal court Monday by an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The affidavit gave no indication why Latham was targeted, and an ATF agent said the agency does not comment on pending cases.
Latham, of Mount Pleasant, is an agent for Beachside Real Estate and treasurer of the S.C. Education Lottery Commission.
When reached Wednesday night, Latham said she had been advised by the U.S. Attorney's Office not to talk about the case.
A spokesman for the office was not able to provide any more information.
The plot was exposed Friday when Charleston police pulled over Aaron Russell Wilkinson, 39, of Louisville, Ky., in a traffic stop. Police found a revolver and a box of ammunition in the car and arrested Wilkinson for driving with a suspended driver's license, according to court documents.
The affidavit outlined what happened:
Wilkinson told police he was in Charleston because he was involved in a plot to kill a local woman for money. He said he didn't actually intend to kill the woman but was trying to appease the man who recruited him to help him kill her. Police called in ATF to investigate.
Wilkinson said a former cellmate, Samuel Arthur Yenawine, 38, of Louisville, approached him March 31 and asked him to drive with him to Nashville to pick up about 2 kilograms of cocaine. They took off in a Volkswagen Passat that Yenawine's girlfriend rented. While they were driving, Yenawine announced that they were going to South Carolina instead to kill a witness in a racketeering case, a story that later turned out not to be true.
They arrived April 1 at the North Charleston Econolodge on Saul White Boulevard and met up with Yenawine's ex-wife, Wendy Annette Moore, 37. Wilkinson said he waited in the car while Moore gave Yenawine $5,000 and a bottle of Loritab and Valium, supposedly to make the death look like an accident.
Wilkinson said he would get $5,000 for his role in the plot and Yenawine would get $20,000 to $30,000. The affidavit did not say where the money was coming from.
Yenawine gave Wilkinson $4,000 to deposit in his wife's bank account in Kentucky, with the understanding that Yenawine's girlfriend would go with Wilkinson's wife to a bank and withdraw it. Wilkinson made the deposit at the Walmart at Tanger Outlets.
The pair then met Moore outside a house on Sullivan's Island, where she handed Yenawine a manila envelope. The envelope turned out to contain photos of Latham and her house and vehicles, and her schedules. Wilkinson said he then learned that Latham was the target.
Yenawine called his girlfriend because he was concerned that she would withdraw the $4,000 and spend it on drugs, Wilkinson told agents. They decided that night to drive back to Kentucky.
Wilkinson said he was afraid of Yenawine and offered to drive back to Charleston and carry out the hit himself. He and his wife left Kentucky on April 2 and arrived in Charleston on April 3, driving the same VW Passat as before. The couple rented a room at the Days Inn on West Montague Avenue in North Charleston and tried to come up with a plan. Wilkinson said he had no intention of killing anybody, but was afraid of Yenawine.
It all came to an end when he was arrested Friday for driving under suspension.
Wilkinson and Moore were booked into the Charleston County jail, and Yenawine was booked into the Oldham County Jail in Kentucky.
All three were to be charged with conspiracy and travel in interstate commerce with the intent to commit murder and aiding and abetting.
Wilkinson and Yenawine also were to be charged with possession of a firearm by a felon.
Latham is well-known in the community.
She is a wildlife artist and a member of Trident United Way's Palmetto Society, fundraising chairwoman of Wando Theatre Boosters, and a supporter of the Spoleto Festival USA and Trident Technical College Foundation, according to her biography on the lottery commission's website.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.