Neighbors think money was the motive behind alleged murder for hire plot

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COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — Some neighbors WREG spoke with believed money was a motive as more details emerge about the Collierville attorney charged with poisoning his wife and trying to hire a hitman to kill her.

Fred Auston Wortman, III was charged in both Fayette and Shelby counties after he reportedly asked an undercover TBI agent posing as a hitman to kill his estranged wife, Staci.

Neighbors, like Vance Hudson, didn’t understand why.

“You would think that he’s so close to the judicial system he would recognize that’s not something you’re going to get away with easily, especially given… If you’re in the process of going through a divorce. You’re the first suspect,” Hudson said.

Court documents discovered by WREG found Wortman named on a life insurance policy Staci held.

It had since been changed to benefit the couple’s children and her parents.

Early divorce documents also showed Wortman admitted to affairs.

That left neighbors like Hudson wondering whether the alleged plot was motivated by money.

“It seems like is must have been, but still it’s a terrible thing for someone to do,” said Hudson.

Police said Wortman researched hitmen, Bitcoin accounts and poisons on his work computer.

Then, he met an undercover TBI agent posing as a hitman and tried to arrange the murder.

TBI officials said if it had not been for someone at his law office coming forward and reporting Wortman’s computer searches, the outcome could have been much different.

“You want people to be doing the right thing to prevent a possible crime,” Josh DeVine with the TBI said. “That’s what happened in this particular case.”

Police also said Wortman used toothpaste tainted with a plant-based poison to poison Staci.

One of the couple’s young children also used the toothpaste and got sick.

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