A pediatrician in Louisville, Kentucky, is accused of an alleged murder-for-hire scheme in which she agreed to pay an undercover employee with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) $7,000 to kill her ex-husband, according to authorities.
In a press release, the Department of Justice announced that Dr. Stephanie Russell, 52, has been charged with the “use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of Murder-for-Hire,” and faces up to ten years in federal prison if she is convicted.
Citing court documents, the DOJ asserted that Russel, looking for a hitman to kill her ex-husband, contacted an FBI undercover employee last Sunday, May 15. Russell and the employee allegedly settled on a price of $7,000 to kill the man, with half of the money being paid upfront. The other half was to be paid once the job was finished, the DOJ said.
On Wednesday, Russell allegedly tucked $3,500 as payment for the undercover in a dropbox outside of the medical office where she worked, according to the DOJ. She was arrested Thursday and made her first court appearance Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. She is scheduled to appear at the U.S. Gene Snyder Courthouse Tuesday for preliminary and detention hearings, the DOJ said.
Citing court documents from 2020, WAVE3 reports that Russell and her ex-husband have been in a custody battle for their two children, adding that a court-appointed Guardian Ad Litem accused her of seeking the services of a hitman years ago:
In 2020, a judge ruled Russell should lose custody of her children after a Guardian Ad Litem, or a person chosen by a judge to represent children in court, accused Russell of “coaching” her children, causing “emotional harm” and attempting to hire a hitman to kill her ex-husband in May 2018.
Russell’s attorney denied the allegation and called it “preposterous” in a lawsuit filed against the judge, who ruled the pediatrician’s ex-husband should have temporary full custody of the two children.
WHAS reports that Russell was employed as a pediatrician at a medical office in the Norton Commons neighborhood in Louisville. Lance Dooley, who resides in the area, told the outlet that Russell was his daughters’ “primary care provider for six years.”
“Money drop-offs were happening right around the corner,” Dooley said. “That freaks us out. It’s one of those things you don’t expect.”
He has already found a new pediatrician, according to the outlet.