Murder-for-hire plot foiled by authorities
By Derrick Knutson—
A Hinckley man is facing charges in Pine County District Court after conspiring to have his ex-girlfriend killed by a hit man.
Jesse Michael Ericson, 45, is charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit kidnapping after he told an undercover officer with the East Central Drug and Violent Offenders Task Force who was posing as a hit man that he would pay him $150,000 to kidnap and kill the woman.
According to a criminal complaint, someone called Pine County Dispatch April 25 to report Ericson had said to the caller he was looking to pay someone to kill his ex-girlfriend.
The caller, who is not identified in the complaint, said he or she knew Ericson through family, friends and employment, and agreed to act as a go-between to set up a meeting between Ericson and the undercover officer Ericson believed to be a legitimate hit man.
Officers from the taskforce met with the reporting party at Grand Casino Hinckley to obtain more information.
The person told the officers after kidnapping his ex-girlfriend, Ericson wanted to obtain access to her 401K and IRA and then have her killed.
Ericson agreed to meet with the “hit man” at the casino April 26.
Ericson reportedly echoed the information given to the officer by go-between, and told the undercover officer he wanted to use the woman for sexual purposes before she was killed.
The conversations between Ericson and the officer were audio and video recorded.
Ericson allegedly told the officer he would pay around $150,000 for the hit, but didn’t have the money at the time, so he said he would provide a quitclaim deed to his home – worth around $70,000 – the next day as collateral until payment could be obtained from his ex-girlfriend’s investment accounts.
Ericson then gave the officer a photo of the woman, a detailed description of the layout of her home and told him of a neighbor who could be “nosy,” according to the complaint.
Ericson stated the best way to kill the woman would be to make the murder look like a suicide, and at one point said he might like to kill her himself.
But then he reportedly waffled on his desire to have his ex-girlfriend killed, and stated he would just like to keep her chained up as his personal sex slave.
However, he later reneged on that decision and stated killing her was better.
He told the officer he wanted her killed because he was angry about their breakup and division of property.
Defendent ‘didn’t want to leave a paper trail’
The two met again 10 a.m. the next day in the parking lot of the Firehouse Liquor Store in Hinckley.
The meeting was again secretly audio and video recorded.
Ericson reportedly told the officer he no longer wanted his ex-girlfriend killed, but still wanted her kidnapped.
He informed the officer he didn’t bring the quitclaim deed because he “didn’t want to leave a paper trail.”
Ericson said he would come up with some money as a down payment and return to the parking lot a few hours later.
He did just that, returning at 3:30 p.m. to the liquor store with $100, which he gave to the officer.
Shortly after the money was handed over, Ericson was arrested.
During an interview with officers, Ericson reportedly said his ex-girlfriend had filed a no-contact order against him and he violated the order on numerous occasions, which he knew was wrong.
Delving into his relationship with the woman, the officers found Ericson had reported to authorities his former girlfriend was running a prostitution ring and dealing drugs at her residence.
Ericson admitted during the interview he had corresponded with the undercover officer whom he thought was a hit man about having his ex-girlfriend kidnapped and used as a sex slave or killed.
At the end of the interview, Ericson allegedly said he had been planning the kidnapping and killing for months, but the plot had only really been “in the back of (his) head for about a week and a half.”
Payment led to arrest
Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole said it has been “a long time” since his office has seen a kidnapping or murder plot similar to the one Ericson was allegedly trying to perpetrate.
He explained the undercover officer met twice with Ericson before arresting him because Ericson had to “take a substantial step toward the commission of the crime” before he could be arrested.
That substantial step was handing over the $100 as a down payment for the kidnapping.
“The undercover officer tries to talk the guy out of it so there’s no question of entrapment,” Cole said.
In addition to the kidnapping charges Ericson is facing, he’s also reportedly been involved in a myriad of other crimes.
Cole said Ericson has a criminal sexual conduct charge pending in Pine County, he’s facing fraud charges in Isanti County for allegedly posing as a bank officer in an attempt to take an ex-girlfriend’s home, and it’s alleged he had inappropriate contact with a 16-year-old girl in Becker County.
“He’s got himself quite a mess,” Cole said.
Bail has been set for Ericson at $1 million with conditions or $500,000 without conditions.
If convicted of the kidnapping charges, Ericson could serve a maximum of 30 years in prison and be ordered to pay over $50,000 in fines.