Banker and mistress busted in murder-for-hire plot against wife
10/21/2016 1:00 pm PDT
A wealthy banker in the middle of messy divorce in love with someone else, a former stripper now working as his assistant. And police say he had to get his wife out the picture.
Aaron Wilkinson is a small-time crook turned hitman. She's a wealthy socialite, married to one of South Carolina's most successful bankers. But where these two lives from opposite ends intersect reveals an unbelievably dark and twisted conspiracy to commit murder.
Nancy Latham thrived in the well-heeled circles of Charleston, South Carolina. Her husband, Chris Latham, was a top bank executive with a high six-figure salary. But by the time the couple's two daughters, Emily and Madison, had reached their teens, the family had drifted apart.
And then, the day that changed everything -- one Nancy will never forget.
"It was Madison's spring break week, so Maddy was going to be in the house every single day, all day that week," said Nancy. "I happen to be taking my bath. Madison answered the door and ran upstairs and said the police are at the door. They both came in and sat down and said Do you know of anyone that would want to hurt you? I said What do you mean hurt me? And they said Do you know of anyone that would want to kill you?"
It began, cops would tell Nancy, not long before, when a man named Aaron Wilkinson was pulled over by police for a simple traffic violation.
"But once he was going to maybe write him a ticket, Aaron started telling him about a plot he knew about a murder for hire, and the officer quickly realized he should search the car, and when the officer found the gun inside the car, he then arrested Aaron Wilkinson," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams.
And once Wilkinson was in custody, did he have a story to tell.
"What Aaron told the local detectives was that he had come down from Kentucky on the orders of another individual to kill a woman, and he said he had paperwork that showed what he was planning to do," said Williams.
Nancy Latham was the supposed target. Once investigators started digging into Wilkinson's claims, and more specifically, that paperwork, they discovered just how meticulously the hit had been planned.
"So some of the things Aaron Wilkinson was saying were checking out and then the next step was really getting the details about who was involved," said Williams.
The feds are brought in, and the hitman drops another bombshell: He claims he's not working alone. His partner in crime is Sammy Yenawine. Wilkinson tells the feds he's got to check in soon or he'll be in big trouble -- Yenawine will suspect something is up.
The feds set up an undercover call between Aaron Wilkinson and Sammy Yenawine. ATF Special Agent Joe Boykin released part of it to Crime Watch Daily. Listen carefully, because feds say it reveals one of the most chilling aspects of this crime.
As the call reveals, the gunmen have been given the green light to take out anyone who gets in the way of their target. Authorities learned that included Nancy's own daughters.
"Wilkinson said 'What should I do if somebody is there, if the kids are there?' and Yenawine told him 'Well, it will make it look better so go ahead and kill them too,'" said Nathan Williams.
Then, Wilkinson tells the cops it was Yenawine who gave him that hit packet in the first place.
During the investigation, authorities also uncover the disturbing details of how payment for a job well done would break down.
"If the hit occurred they would receive $20,000, but if they made it look like an accident they would get more money," said Boykin. "Regardless, she had to die, and if it was just a robbery gone bad or a carjacking gone bad, that would be fine."
Now, with the plot uncovered, and one of the hitmen still on the streets, the clock was ticking. Feds had to find Nancy, and fast.
"We had a victim that we didn't know her whereabouts that we needed to make sure and find and secure that she was safe," said Boykin.
Once they found Nancy and her daughters, there was no time to waste.
"And they said 'People have been paid to kill you. They said 'Pack a bag,' and so we packed a bag," said Nancy. "It was like a kick in the stomach."
"So the concern right then was how many people were involved, and how much danger there was to the victim," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Williams.
Nancy and her daughters are rushed to a safe house, but the mother of two is on pins and needles.
"The best-case scenario for me was that they shot me and I instantly died," said Nancy. "The worst-case scenario would have been they came to my room, shot me, woke up Madison and I wouldn't have died immediately and there would have been nothing I could do and I would have listened to them kill my daughter, and that's the one thing I cannot stop thinking about is how horrific that would be."
But who would want Nancy Latham dead, and didn't care if her beautiful daughters got in the way? Cops are stumped, until they ask Nancy herself, and she lets them in on a little secret.
"I said 'Well, considering I'm divorcing on Monday, I would have to say Chris Latham," said Nancy. Chris Latham, the man Nancy had been married to for 24 years.
Divorce by death didn't seem to fit Chris's profile: A well-respected, well-paid bank executive. But Nancy says behind their picture-perfect family was a dark secret.
"We got plenty of evidence that he was having multiple affairs with women with whom he worked, and I filed for a divorce on those grounds, and then surprise of all surprises, in three or four months he started saying that I was having an affair and I was trying to kill him," said Nancy.
One of his affairs was with Wendy Moore, who cops say was Latham's very personal assistant.
"They definitely had something going on between the two of them," said Boykin. "They were all caught up and passionate about each other."
Chris Latham and Wendy Moore got so close, her voice was actually on his answering machine.
Wendy Moore had once been an exotic dancer. And there were even reports she used to live in what amounted to a sex studio with her ex-husband.
"Downstairs where they would entertain clients," said Boykin. "My understanding was it was live sexual presentations as well as maybe online sexual entertainment."
That ex-husband was none other than Sam Yenawine, one of the hired hit men. In fact, authorities learn it was Wendy who actually delivered the hit packet and a wad of cash to the hotel in Charleston where the triggermen were staying.
Unfortunately for the conspirators, cops tracked them down one by one, and placed Wendy Moore, Sam Yenawine and Aaron Wilkinson under arrest.
But where was Chris Latham? And how involved was he? His stripper girlfriend wasn't saying a thing.
"We really hope she would cooperate and testify against Chris, but again their relationship and their fates were intertwined," said Boykin. "The hit package was invaluable but starting to tie in these players with direct evidence of their participation was equally important."
But feds don't necessarily need her statement. They soon obtain recordings of jail house phone calls between the blonde bombshell and Chris Latham. At the very least, the recording proved the two were connected.
And while searching through the hit packet, investigators find more evidence that seems to incriminate Chris: the paperwork is traced to his office computer and printer.
Cops say he supplied the torn family photo of Nancy and daughter Madison, and a snapshot of Nancy's car taken with his cellphone.
Now, they just had to bring Chris Latham in. That's when they turn to his soon to be ex-wife.
Nancy was betting her ex-husband was squirreled away where they used to go on family vacations. With a couple of phone calls to area real estate agents, she hit pay dirt.
"I called the ATF agents and said this is where he is," said Nancy. "They said that's five hours away, how sure are you? I said I would bet my life. That's where he is. They said OK. They took off. I got a call about 9:30 at night from Joe Boykin, who said 'We want to let you know your husband has been arrested and thank you for helping us find him,' and my husband happened to be in the car with Joe at that time when he said that, so i am sure that kind of got Chris's goat."
The banker had traded his three-piece suits for prison stripes. Brought down, some say, by a pair of heels.
Now the rogues gallery of conspirators were headed to trial. But there is yet another shocking twist in the case.
"It was a deputy U.S. Marshall saying, 'Is Sam Yenawine your prisoner?' And I said 'Yeah he is,'" said Boykin. "He said, 'Well, he's dead.' I said 'What do you mean he's dead?' He goes, 'He committed suicide, he hung himself in the jail,' and my jaw just dropped. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Because we knew with his interaction with Wendy we had a real shot at getting some incriminating evidence against Chris."
In a suicide note left to his current girlfriend, Yenawine wrote: "I'm finally free. ... Satan is killing me with memories of us... Love you always and forever."
"I guess he didn't want to testify against Wendy," said Boykin.
Ultimately Wendy Moore was found guilty and got 15 years for her role in the murder-for-hire plot. Aaron Wilkinson got four years.
Chris Latham was also convicted, and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.