Stephen Allwine is allegedly a killer. According to a criminal complaint, Stephen is suspected of shooting his wife, Amy Allwine, in the head with a nine millimeter pistol in their Cottage Grove, Minnesota, home last year.
But one key part of the story that led prosecutors to charge Stephen was his alleged, and failed, attempt to hire a hitman on the so-called dark web to murder Amy. That site, called Besa Mafia and ostensibly run by Albanian gangsters, was an elaborate scam, and in May a hacker posted the site's customer details and messages online, as Motherboard previously reported.
The Allwines' case reveals that the FBI paid very close attention to those hacked records, and tipped off at least one potential victim—Amy.
"If you want to kill someone, or to beat the shit out of him, we are the right guys," the Besa Mafia site read. In February 2016, someone with the username "dogdaygod" approached the supposed hitmen with a job: He wanted Amy Allwine dead, and wanted to make it look like a car accident. That would cost $6,000, Besa Mafia replied.
Dogdaygod seemed to know Amy well—the anonymous user said Amy would be traveling to Moline, Illinois in March and asked if the hit could be carried out then. After some back and forth—Besa Mafia said their hitman was caught and in police custody, delaying the job—the group solicited more money from Dogdaygod. They asked for another $12,000.
But in May, a hacker targeted the site, published Besa Mafia's customer list, and revealed the site as a fraud. Dogdaygod never got what he paid for, and instead moved onto Dream Market, a dark web marketplace, and enquired about buying scopolamine.
The drug, according to the criminal complaint, "is known to erase a person's memory, rendering them incapable of exercising their free will. The drug is made into an odorless and tasteless powder that quickly dissolves in liquids and is commonly put into drinks or sprinkled on food."
After the Besa Mafia hack, the FBI read Dogdaygod's messages, and saw the user had ordered a hit on Amy. On June 1, FBI Special Agent Silkey and Detective Raymond met with the Allwines, and had Amy go to the local police department for more information. Officers advised Amy to install new security measures in light of the threats; the couple added an alarm to the house.
Amy received more threats from an anonymous email account over the next few weeks, encouraging her to commit suicide.
"Commit suicide. If you do not, then you will slowly see things taken away from you, and each time you will know that you could have stopped it, which will eat you apart from the inside," one of the emails read.
The next month, Stephen bought the handgun that would be used to kill Amy. Throughout the day she died, Amy had complained of feeling faint, and had searched the internet for "Vertigo-Wikipedia."
Investigators found residue on Stephen's right-hand consistent with a gunshot. A medical test conducted on Amy's body found her blood contained over forty five times higher the concentration of scopolamine than would be after a normal, therapeutic dose.
What connects Stephen to the fake dark web hitman site, however, is that during a forensic examination of Stephen's devices, officers found a deleted backup file of an identical bitcoin address sent by Dogdaygod to Besa Mafia.
"This specific bitcoin wallet address is the exact same address provided by dogdaygod, thus linking Defendant directly to dogdaygod," the complaint reads.
The FBI's warning was not enough to save Amy's life. An FBI spokesperson neither confirmed nor denied it is investigating users of Besa Mafia.
Kevin DeVore, Stephen's attorney, told Motherboard that the case is still in the pretrial stage, and that a court date is scheduled for June 2.
Stephen is charged with second degree murder, was briefly released after posting a conditional bail of $500,000, but was arrested again after he tried to contact his and Amy's nine year old son, and track him with a GPS smartwatch. Stephen is banned from contacting him or Amy's parents, and faces a maximum of forty years in prison.