Doctor asks nurse to help her hire hitman to kill ex-husband in Kentucky, feds say

A Kentucky pediatrician tried hiring a hitman to kill her ex-husband so she could gain full custody of their two children, federal officials said.

Stephanie Russell, owner of Kidz Life Pediatrics in Louisville, now faces up to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting interstate stalking and using interstate commerce facilities in commission of murder-for-hire, according to court documents filed April 22.

Russell’s attorneys did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on April 23.

She was indicted in May 2022, but she had been plotting to have her ex-husband killed since 2019, according to court documents.

Russell’s ex-husband accused her of wanting to hire a hitman to kill him in 2019 when he was being interviewed as part of a child abuse allegation reported by his ex, according to court documents.

His attorney provided a letter from the couple’s former nanny, according to court records.

The former nanny initially thought Russell was joking when Russell asked if she knew any “really bad people” who could get rid of her ex-husband, according to the complaint. As Russell continued to describe details on “preferred timing and locations of the would-be murder,” the nanny said she started to get suspicious.

The FBI and local officials investigated, but eventually closed the case after not finding enough evidence, according to the complaint. Authorities also did not find any evidence of her ex abusing their kids.

Then, a Kidz Life Pediatrics employee came forward in 2022 alleging Russell had approached two nurses at the practice for help killing her ex between July 2021 and March 2022, federal officials said.

Text messages between Russell and a nurse show a conversation discussing “flowers” that were to be delivered to Russell’s ex-husband. The nurse said “flowers” was code for the doctor’s murder-for-hire plot, according to court documents.

“I was hoping to hear about the (flowers) today,” Russell said in a text message to the nurse, according to court records.

The nurse had told Russell she knew someone she could hire, according to court documents, and Russell later agreed to pay at least $4,000 for the job. Later, the nurse said the alleged hitman died, according to federal officials.

Russell then asked if the nurse would do the job, the nurse told investigators. They declined and later left the medical practice, according to the complaint.

In May 2022, Russell approached the former nurse saying she was still looking for “flowers,” according to text messages obtained by the FBI. The nurse, working with investigators, gave Russell the phone number of an undercover FBI agent, saying it was a hitman, according to court documents.

After speaking with the undercover agent about a possible murder-for-hire, Russell agreed to pay $7,000 for the job, prosecutors said. She told the agent she wanted her ex-husband’s death to appear as a suicide, asking for the agent to hold him “hostage and force him to text her an apologetic suicide note before being killed,” federal officials said.

Russell said she placed the first half of the $7,000 payment in a lab specimen drop box outside her office in Louisville after coordinating with the undercover agent posing as a hitman, according to text messages detailed in court documents.

Russel’s sentencing is scheduled for July 31.

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