Editor's note:

The information in this article is based on trial testimony, evidence presented during trial and court documents.

They met at the office, two bank employees going through difficult divorces while raising children from those unions.

Chris Latham and Wendy Moore began their courtship watching Gamecock football games on television at his Sullivan's Island home. He sat on a couch, she on a chair, separated by a mutual friend. But by the end of the season, they sat side-by-side. Love had taken root, and they began making plans for their future.

"I heard them say 'We'd like to spend the rest of our lives together and live happily ever after,'?" said Bill Lemacks, Latham's best friend.

But happily ever after for Latham and Moore took a sinister turn, and now any chance at being together could be on hold for three decades.

The pair were convicted last week in connection with a plot to kill Latham's estranged wife Nancy in April 2013. Latham could spend the next 10 years in federal prison, while Moore could be locked away for 30 years.

What drove a budding romance to a dark place where murder seemed the only option remains elusive. But one thing is clear: One or both of them wanted Nancy Latham out of the picture. Permanently.

Hatred brewing

By March 2013, life had become complicated for Chris Latham. His divorce had become ugly and contentious.

His wife had accused him of having an affair with another woman who worked at the bank. He had accused Nancy of cheating on him as well. Both were spending thousands of dollars on their lawyers.

Chris Latham, who had worked his way up through the industry to become a regional executive for Bank of America's U.S. Trust division, had a lot to lose if the details of his messy divorce became public. It threatened a sterling reputation he had built in the industry, one that helped him command a $650,000 annual salary.

"Chris Latham was highly thought of at U.S. Trust," said Jim Sweeney, a colleague of Latham. "He had an excellent track record."

Moore, who was his administrative assistant, was at his side as Latham dealt with a multi-million-dollar clientele. She also helped her boss with the mounds of paperwork associated with his divorce, shuffling documents back and forth to his attorney's office.

Moore knew how tough a divorce could be. She was in the midst of her second marital breakup. Newly single once again, she found herself drawn to the man she spent most of her days with: her boss, Chris Latham.

She saw firsthand the toll the divorce was taking on Latham and what was at stake for him. At some point, her feelings toward Nancy Latham turned to hatred.

At first she resorted to pranks. Around October 2012, Moore told a colleague that she had posted Nancy's phone number on a men's dating website.

Five months later, a much darker plan was hatched, one that would eliminate the source of her aggravation. But to carry it out, she would need help.

Connections

Moore turned to her first husband, Sammy Yenawine, an ex-con from Kentucky who was no stranger to violence.

During their marriage in 2001, Yenawine killed a downstairs neighbor whom he suspected of hurting one of his children. The neighbor had worked as a bodyguard for Moore's adult entertainment business, which she ran out of the rented home where they all lived.

Yenawine confronted the man, then stabbed him six times and slashed his throat before torching the house.

He later beat the murder rap but spent 10 years in prison on an arson charge stemming from the episode.

It was during that prison hitch that he met a hard-luck drug addict and career criminal named Aaron Russell Wilkinson.

They became friends and shared details of each other's lives. Yenawine told Wilkinson of his pretty young wife named Wendy, whose photos he kept in his cell. When Yenawine got tossed into solitary confinement for discipline issues, Wilkinson helped him pass along messages to Moore by phone.

The two men parted ways in 2005 when Wilkinson got out of prison, then came together again in the spring of 2013. Sammy had a job to do, and he needed help.

Armed with drugs and a .32-caliber revolver stuffed in a duffel bag, they left Kentucky in a rental car on a journey that would lead them to Charleston.

Murder-for-hire

Chris Latham's final divorce hearing was quickly approaching. He had been shelling out $8,500 a month to support and house his estranged wife, and she stood to get much more if the divorce proceedings went her way.

In the days before the scheduled hearing, Latham and Moore spent some time doing research online. She compiled photos of Nancy Latham, as well as images and maps of her house in Mount Pleasant, and stacked them together with personal photos Chris Latham had taken of his wife's home.

The materials ended up in a manila envelope that also included a paper spelling out Nancy's name and her age, her kids' names, her daily schedule and other information about her life - everything someone would need to track her down.

Moore would soon hand the packet over to Yenawine, after summoning him and Wilkinson to a meeting spot on Sullivan's Island, near the home she now shared with Chris Latham. But first, she met with Yenawine to seal their deal with a cash payment at a North Charleston hotel where she had rented a room for him and his friend.

She gave Yenawine $5,000 and told him there was more where that came from if he killed Nancy Latham - $30,000 if he made it look like an accident; $20,000 if police didn't buy the ruse and launched an investigation.

Their plan got sidetracked when Yenawine drove back to Kentucky to see his girlfriend after a nasty spat.

Wilkinson pledged to finish the job, but it was a lie. He had no intention of killing anyone. All he cared about was putting distance between himself and the increasingly unstable Yenawine. That, and scoring some heroin to feed his habit.

During one of those drug runs, on April 5, he drew the attention of a Charleston police officer. After the officer pulled him over on the city's East Side, Wilkinson told him he had a story to tell - one that was meant to end in murder.

Chess game

Wilkinson told investigators all about the plan to kill Nancy Latham, and it didn't take them long to round up Yenawine and Moore as well.

After her April 8 arrest, Moore's first phone call from jail was to Chris Latham. "I was just calling to tell you I'm OK," she said.

Latham told her he was on his way to see his attorney.

"I may be where you are soon," Latham told Moore.

It would take another four months before investigators snared Chris Latham in the plot and threw him in jail. During that time, he spent hours on the phone with his jailed lover.

"You need to know it's you and me forever," Latham told Moore in one phone call. "When this is all over, one day we're going to make that official, OK?"

"I would like that," she replied.

A few of their conversations centered around Kentucky attorney Bill Butler, whom they referred to as "bluegrass music" in their recorded calls.

The two spoke in code about hiring Butler to represent Yenawine, who would later hang himself in the Georgetown County jail. Getting Yenawine on board with their strategy, Moore told Latham, was the crux of it all.

"I'll figure out a way and I'll get it done," he told her. "It's a chess game."

Last week, federal prosecutors told a jury that the game was over, and they agreed.

Inside jury room

The 12 jurors spent 10 hours deliberating before finding Moore guilty on four counts involving the murder-for-hire scheme and Latham guilty of one count of aiding and abetting. They deadlocked on two additional counts accusing Latham of conspiracy and a weapons violation related to the plot.

A juror who asked not to be identified told The Post and Courier that it took the jury two hours to decide Moore was guilty on all counts.

"A lot of (the jurors) stated it was the purchase of the hotel room that kind of nailed her," the juror said. "Because she went out of her way to go get the hotel room for (Yenawine)."

Jurors agreed that there was an overwhelming amount of evidence against Moore. "A lot of the stuff led straight back to her," the juror said.

It took much longer for the jury to decide on Latham's involvement.

Another juror, 58-year-old Ruby Hart of Georgetown, described the mood of the deliberations as tense. "We were battling it out," she said. While all the jurors agreed on Moore's guilt, a small group could not decide on Latham. Hart wasn't one of them. She voted to find Latham guilty on all counts. "He used Wendy Moore to do his dirty work," she said. A key piece of evidence against Latham, according to the juror who did not want to be identified, was a text message from Yenawine to Wilkinson that contained the Conway address of Nancy Latham's father.

"(Moore) wouldn't have known about that without (Latham) telling," the juror said.

After hours of back-and-forth in the jury room, nine jurors were ready to convict Latham on all counts, according to that juror. But they could agree only on one count, leaving the two others undecided.

The jurors announced their verdict to a packed federal courtroom about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Chris Latham and Moore didn't flinch. They avoided eye contact with one another, as they had throughout the trial.

Within minutes, marshals led them away so they could be taken back to the Charleston County jail. They likely will be sentenced in about three months, unless prosecutors decide to retry Latham on the two remaining counts.

In the meantime, the lovers will spend their days living under the same roof but separated by tons of concrete and thick metal doors, their plans for a future together locked away for years to come.

Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.