|Activists Charged in Murder 'Fur' Hire|
|By ALYSSA NEWCOMB (@alyssanewcomb)||Feb 22, 2012, 10:48 AM|
An animal activist planned to pay a hitman $730 to gun down a random person wearing fur outside of a Cleveland library.
A criteria for any gunmen considering the offer was that they do not wear "anything that looks remotely like fur," according to a police affidavit.
"I would like to create an online community on Facebook which would allow me to find someone who is willing to kill someone who is wearing fur toward the end of October 2011 or early November 2011 or possibly in January 2012 or February 2012 at the latest," Meredith Lowell allegedly wrote on a Facebook page she had established under the alias Anne Lowery.
Lowell, 27, was arrested Tuesday on one charge of conspiracy to commit murder. According to an affidavit filed by federal authorities, Lowell solicited a hitman to kill the first person he saw outside of a Cleveland Heights library who was wearing fur and "preferably 14 years old or older but should be at least 12 years old."
The FBI took notice of the posting last November and assigned an undercover employee to correspond with Lowell, pretending to agree to get the job done.
"You need to bring a gun with a silencer on it and that can easily be concealed in your pants pocket or coat. Do not wear anything that looks even remotely like fur," she wrote to a man she thought was a fellow animal rights activist. "I want the person to be dead in less than 2 minutes (under 2 minutes or 1 minute or less would be better.)"
"I plan on staying after the hit for reasons of benefit to the movement," she allegedly wrote. "And think being caught would actually benefit me personally."
A 14-page affidavit that detailed Lowell's alleged correspondence with her "hitman," which took place over the course of several months, was filed in U.S. District Court.
After exchanging messages on Facebook, Lowell began to open up to the FBI operative and revealed that Anne Lowery was a pseudonym.
The two moved their correspondence to email since "it is easier for us to communicate," Lowell wrote.
Lowell sent many of the emails from the Coventry Branch of Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, where authorities claim she planned to have the murder take place. In those emails, she wrote of her desire to escape a home where her family ate meat, wore wool, and used animal products, the affidavit states.
"So all of the speciest things I have mentioned...make me want to have the hit even sooner so I can get out of my house and hopefully get closer to ending the fur industry which is our goal," she wrote.
Jennifer Kaden, co-founder of the Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance, said she checked her membership records and found that no one in her organization had ever dealt with Lowell, who she called "misguided" and "dangerous."
"We're all about advocating for peace and nonviolence," she said. "We extend that to humans and animals."
Lowell remains in federal custody and faces a detention hearing next Tuesday to determine whether she will be offered bail.