Cast of characters grows in murder-for-hire case

Samuel Yenawine, 38, of Louisville, Ky., accused of being involved in the murder-for-hire plot to kill Nancy Latham. Photo is from Georgetown County jail. (Provided)

Provided

Another defendant was added Monday to the cast of characters in the Nancy Latham murder-for-hire plot as federal authorities opened a previously sealed indictment in the case.

Rachel Palmer, 36, of Louisville, Ky., is in custody in connection with the scheme to kill the Mount Pleasant real estate agent, bringing the number of defendants to four, federal authorities revealed.

Palmer is the girlfriend and co-defendant of Samuel Yenawine, 38, of Louisville, who appeared briefly Monday in federal court in Charleston for a detention hearing.

Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant opted to keep Yenawine behind bars while his Kentucky lawyer, William Butler, tries to arrange for a local attorney to represent him in Charleston.

Yenawine, a heavily tattooed man with buzz-cut hair, appeared at the hearing in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackles. He said little beyond consenting to his continued detention at the Georgetown County jail. He had already pleaded not guilty.

Latham, who is treasurer of the S.C. Education Lottery Commission, attended the hearing but did not address the court. Afterward, she offered a tight smile and said her attorney had advised her not to discuss the case. She then left the court through a back entrance.

Yenawine and Palmer are named in a seven-count indictment, along with Russell Wilkinson, 39, of Louisville, and Yenawine’s ex-wife, 37-year-old Wendy Annette Moore, who lives in the Charleston area.

All four are charged with conspiracy and use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Moore and Yenawine also are charged with solicitation of murder for hire. Yenawine and Wilkinson face additional charges of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Wilkinson is scheduled for arraignment on the indictment this afternoon.

Latham is in the midst of a bitter divorce from her estranged husband, Chris Latham, a Bank of America executive who is vice president of Spoleto Festival USA and a board member of the Trident Technical College Foundation.

In motions in the divorce case and in a separate civil lawsuit, she has accused her husband of plotting with his live-in girlfriend — identified as Wendy Moore — to have her killed.

Chris Latham’s attorneys have denied those allegations, and he has not been charged with a crime. In court motions, they have insisted he is in fear for his life because he has allegedly been targeted for harm by his wife and her half brother, a convicted triple-murderer who is out on parole.

The plot against Nancy Latham unraveled when Wilkinson revealed details of the alleged plot after he was pulled over by Charleston police on April 5 and found to have a .32-caliber pistol and ammunition inside his car, police have said.

Wilkinson told investigators Yenawine left him to carry out the hit after heading back to Louisville to make sure Palmer didn’t spend $4,000 they’d received for the job on drugs, according to an affidavit.

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.