KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville woman was charged in Knox County with hiring a hitman through the dark web to murder the wife of a man she met on the internet dating website Match.com, according to a criminal complaint filed in District Court.
In the complaint dated May 11, 2023, a Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Special Agent wrote that Melody Sasser allegedly hired a hitman through the dark web hosted site “Online Killers Market” on January 11, 2023. The “order for murder” was made by an account linked to Sasser during the investigation and had a description that said the hitman was to kill a woman in Prattville, Alabama, according to the complaint.
“It needs to seem random or accident. Or plant drugs, do not want a long investigation,” the complaint says the description reads, going on to include even more in depth descriptions of the victim and her husband’s vehicles and jobs.
According to the criminal complaint, the special agent received information regarding the plot from a foreign law enforcement agency on April 27, and during the investigation, it was found that Sasser and the victim’s husband met through Match.com. Agents in Birmingham, Alabama, informed the local police and the victim of the threat to her life.
According to the complaint, the victim said her husband and Sasser were hiking friends in Knoxville before he moved to Alabama. After he moved, Sasser allegedly travelled to his Prattville, Alabama residence unannounced in fall 2022 after he told her he was engaged to the victim. The complaint says Sasser responded, saying she hoped he and the victim both “fall off a cliff and die.”
In addition, the complaint also details other harassment the victim was subjected to, including damages to her vehicle and threatening phone calls.
Throughout the investigation, the complaint says agents linked Sasser to the account that made the “order for murder” on “Online Killers Market” through her Bitcoin purchases that were used to send money to the account. While the deposits listed in the document only total approximately $3,758.67, the total of the “order” was $9750.
The complaint says Coinhub ATMs takes photos of of every user during each transaction, and photos from an ATM linked to specific transactions matched Sasser’s Tennessee driver’s license picture and her open source Facebook profile picture. Additionally, the phone number used to identify the customer at the ATM also matched the phone number Sasser listed on her driver’s license and in her contact information with Knoxville Utilities Board. The photos and phone number were provided to HSI by Coinhub, the complaint says.
Sasser is expected in federal court in Knoxville on June 8.