Grandmother convicted of hiring hit on grandson's mother claims cartel threatened to kill entire family
11/08/2017 1:57 pm PST
A single mother working as an emergency medical technician, her job was to save lives -- but someone was trying to take hers.
And the deadly deal to snuff her out was all caught on camera. It all starts with a bitter custody dispute in Lawrence County, Alabama.
"There's no telling what someone's willing to do."
Lawrence County, Alabama Sheriff's Captain Dennis Sharp's usual beat is busting drug offenders. But he's forced to think outside the box when faced with a very different kind of criminal.
Lyndsey Grindol, a young single mom trained as an emergency medical technician, is living in Lawrence County. She's caught up in a whirlwind romance with another EMT named Matt Treadway.
"I really hit it off with her, and I liked what she appeared to be at the time, and we ended up dating for approximately five or six months," Matthew Treadway tells Crime Watch Daily.
The romance flames out. But not long after that, Lyndsey finds out she's pregnant, and gives birth to their baby, little boy named Aiden.
"I was fully prepared to step up to plate and take on the role of father and be there for the child," said Matthew.
Matt has a pair of helping hands: his mom Sandy, who takes an instant shine to her precious new grandson.
"She adored my son, absolutely adored my son, and she'd do anything in the world to protect him, and protect us," said Matthew.
And soon, Matt says, they'd be forced to step in to protect Aiden. He claims Lyndsey's not taking good care of their baby. In fact, at one point Aiden's weight is so dangerously low he has to be hospitalized.
"He had actually lost weight. When he was born he was 8 pounds 7 ounces, 20 inches long," said Matt. "When he got admitted into the hospital. He was 7 pounds 9 ounces, and that was at six weeks."
Lyndsey, the overwhelmed mom is so groggy at the hospital nurses can barely rouse her to feed Aiden, all this noted in court documents during a bitter custody battle.
"Even at the hospital, after telling Lyndsey to feed him every two hours, they was still time frames, eight to 12 hours, that she wouldn't feed him, and so the doctor ordered the nurses to do all feedings," said Matthew Treadway.
The hospital's report is damning. Matt sues for emergency custody -- and gets it. Aiden comes to live full-time with dad Matt and grandma Sandy.
"I done had a custody order from the judge on our case to go and get him," said Matthew.
Matthew had custody of his son, and Lyndsey had supervised visitation. Then in September 2015, Lyndsey starts to put up a fight. She petitions the court for unsupervised visitation. Lyndsey wants her baby back. Certain members of Matt Treadway's family aren't about to let that happen.
"We was worried that if she was around him without being supervised at that point in time, that it would go back as failure to thrive, he wouldn't thrive in her care and prosper," said Matthew.
That's when Grandma Sandy takes matters into her own hands. She starts texting with a friend of Matt's -- a man who claims to have connections. Someone who can get problems solved -- permanently.
"She had approached him about if he knew any hit men that could conduct a murder-for-hire," said Capt. Dennis Sharp
It starts with the friend's foreboding text: "How bad. Do u want. The roach problems gone and i mean. Gone"
Sandy responds: "Very very very bad!!! I hate roaches"
The friend's chilling offer: "I got. A direct. Contact. With. Good bug. Spray. Lol for real."
It appears to be in code, a code cops say was easy to crack.
"During the text message conversation she wouldn't say outright, say 'I need a hit man, kill somebody,'" said Capt. Sharp. "She used the lingo of 'exterminator, take care of a roach problem."
Sandy Treadway types: "I can deal with them being gone for good and never coming back ... the roaches have to go!!!"
"This is a demented evil person's thinking, because somebody's gonna get visitation, unsupervised visitation back, I'm gonna have 'em killed,'" said Capt. Sharp.
Days later Sandra meets "the exterminator" himself. The rendezvous with a hit man was caught on camera. Sandra hands over a folder filled with meticulous research -- schedules, addresses and photos of the target.
"I mean, she had it pretty detailed out what she wanted," said Capt. Sharp.
There's just one more detail: Sandra makes a down payment of $750 on an agreed-upon price of $1,500, and she promises the rest of the money when the hit goes down.
"All right, that's fine, I'll call you when it's done and I'll collect the rest of the money, all right? All right, I'll see you in a few days."
A little more than a month later, the exterminator finishes his job, and he's got proof. Horrifying images arrive in Grandma Sandy's inbox, photos of little Aiden's mom lying in a pool of blood.
"She wanted proof of death, which was gonna be a picture after the murder was committed," said Capt. Dennis Sharp.
But do the pictures tell the whole story?
Sandra Treadway has been searching for an exterminator -- not to kill the bugs around her house, but to take out the mother of her grandchild.
But what Sandra doesn't know is that her parking lot liaison is a sting. The man who set it all up is an informant for police. And the hit man is an undercover cop.
The covert operation should be enough to bust Sandra. But then grandma calls the hired gun with one more gruesome request.
"I said before I didn't want no picture, but I think I do."
"She wanted proof of death, which was gonna be a picture after the murder was supposedly committed," said Lawrence County Sheriff's Capt. Dennis Sharp. "Sandra knew we were gonna be doing the murder that night, so it was -- time was not on our side."
Sharp has a bright idea, but they'll need help from an unlikely source. It's Lyndsey Grindol, the target of Grandma Sandra's evil scheme.
"They asked me if I knew who Sandra Treadway was, and I said 'Yes sir,' and he was holding a packet in his hand and he said 'Well, she has put out a hit on you,'" Lyndsey Grindol tells Crime Watch Daily. "He showed me like the first few pages of the packet, like a picture of my house and a few other things, and then it just hit. I couldn't say nothing.
"They explained to me, 'OK, she wants proof, can you help us?'" said Lydnsey. "So I just looked at my daughter and I thought about my son, and said 'I gotta do what I have to do to protect my kids.' So I agreed to help them."
And helping out the cops meant staging her own murder. Sandra Treadway wanted proof that the murder had taken place. So investigators picked a spot to stage the murder.
"They set my car facing like the woods," said Lyndsey. "Had my driver's side door propped open, and had me kind of lay down execution-style, and then they poured the blood on me and made it look like I was shot a few times in the back.
"No really words to explain or how I felt what was going through my head at the time except other than just there to protect my kids," said Lyndsey.
"Between the investigators that were involved in this and the undercover, we all have several years of experience of investigating crimes which involved murders, suicides," said Capt. Sharp. "So we try and make it as believable as possible."
Cops hit "send" on their camera phones, and Sandra Treadway gets her grisly photographic trophy.
"Did you get the picture?"
Then she meets again in the parking lot to make final payment.
Minutes later, cops slam the cuffs on the grim granny, and find she's already been busy covering her tracks.
"She had erased the text messages by the time we had made contact with her," said Capt. Sharp. "We already had the text message. She didn't know it, she didn't believe when I told her, you know, 'The guy you hired to kill Lyndsey was an undercover federal agent working for the DEA.'"
Sandra Treadway is booked for criminal solicitation to commit murder. And in the ultimate sad irony, the grandson she so desperately wanted to keep is returned to Lyndsey's care.
Lawrence County District Attorney Errek Jett takes Sandra to trial with a mountain of evidence.
"She knew what she wanted, and she was determined to get that result here," said Jett.
But Sandra's son Matt says there's much more to this story.
"This is why it's happened -- she was set up," said Matt.
Not only set up, but entrapped. Sandra claims it was Matt's buddy the informant -- an ex-convict with a long rap sheet -- who tricked her into taking the bait.
"They admitted to that in court that they paid him $500 to set this up," said Matthew Treadway.
And he did it by driving the grandmother into a frenzy of fear.
"She wasn't expecting to walk away from there, she was expecting that guy to kill her right there on the spot," said Matthew.
The case against Sandra Treadway seems pretty solid. They have her on tape saying she wants the mother of her grandchild dead.
But in an all-new Crime Watch Daily interview, her son Matthew Treadway tells us you haven't heard the whole story.
Grandma Sandra Treadway, 56, took out the hit after the mother of her grandson was accused of almost starving him to death.
Lawrence County D.A. Errek Jett has text messages, recorded phone calls, and his prized piece of evidence: Video of Sandra Treadway hiring a cop posing as the trigger-man.
"This was as strong as evidence in a case that I've had in a long time," said Jett.
Now Sandra's answering to that evidence in court. A jury has no trouble uncovering her fate.
"In fact, this was the fastest jury I've ever had," said Errek Jett. "From beginning to end, the actual deliberations was less than 40 minutes, so they felt that the evidence was very clear in their minds."
The verdict? Guilty of solicitation to commit murder.
The deliberations may have been short, but the sentence is long: 720 months in prison.
While previously she had been defiant, upon hearing the judge's decision from the bench in the courtroom, Sandra broke down in tears.
"When Captain Sharp went to take her into custody, she began screaming hysterical, 'Not him, not him, not him,' that 'he'll kill me,'" said Errek Jett. "She said it more than one time."
Why the hysteria? Sandra Treadway claims she was set up, forced to hire a hit man, or else suffer devastating consequences.
In a Crime Watch Daily first, this just convicted felon faces our cameras literally moments after sentencing. Sandra Treadway is no longer hysterical, but the harsh reality of her fate has only begun to sink in.
Sandra Treadway: "I was sentenced to 720 months of prison."
CWD: "Sixty years."
Sandra Treadway: "I've not calculated it yet."
CWD: "How does that set on you? What are you thinking? What's going on inside?"
Sandra Treadway: "That's a death sentence to me. I'm 56 years old. So it's my death sentence."
She says she doesn't deserve that sentence.
Sandra Treadway: "I was entrapped."
Not only entrapped, Sandra claims she was railroaded into a life of crime, pointing the finger at the informant -- believe it or not, a guy her son Matt thought was a good friend.
Sandra Treadway: "He set me up. I really don't know why. One day out of the blue he sent me a text, 'You want to get rid of your roach problem?' So I thought 'Yeah,' you know, but I wasn't meaning 'rid' like that."
CWD: "Were there any good times between you and Lyndsey? Any good interaction?"
Sandra Treadway: "Oh yeah, at the beginning, before she almost starved my grandson, yeah."
CWD: "Did you want Lyndsey dead then? Have you ever wanted Lyndsey dead?"
Sandra Treadway: "No. No. Never."
CWD: "Did your son Matt have any involvement in this?"
Sandra Treadway: "No. No. Not at all. None."
And Matt Treadway says the informant offered his mom a choice almost too bizarre to believe: Help kill Lyndsey, or face the wrath of a bloodthirsty drug cartel.
"He presented her with a paper, and it had a list of every one of our family members' and friends' names, addresses, date of births, where they worked, all the way down to my son, all the way down to aunts, uncles, and if she did not go through with this, that the hit man would kill every one of the members that was on that list and leave her alone, to live her life alone," said Matthew.
If it seems far-fetched, Sandra Treadway says it was an offer she was too terrified to refuse.
Sandra Treadway: "I expected to die when I handed that money over that night. I thought one versus, you know, 30 or more? And I knew I couldn't take it if all my family were killed and I was left. So I done what I had to do. I had two choices. I chose the one I thought was the best for everybody else."
CWD: "So you doing this to save your family?"
Sandra Treadway: "Yes."
But Lawrence County District Attorney Errek Jett says that's just a convicted grandmother trying to save her own skin.
"Imagination or just absolutely making it up," said Jett. "It was inconsistent with all the evidence whatsoever."
So the cartel was never found to be true?
"No ma'am," said Jett. "That was the first any of us had heard of it was at that moment in trial."
And it doesn't explain Sandra Treadway's twisted gratitude after getting proof the deed is done.
CWD: "When you were on that sand tape at that window and you are asking him Is she dead yet? And he's saying it's done, what about that?"
Sandra Treadway: "I don't recall saying that. I'm not denying it, I just don't recall it."
CWD: "If they were going to kill 30 people in the family and you were afraid of that, why would you believe they needed your help to kill her?"
Sandra Treadway: "I was scared to death, and you know, as a woman that's never been involved, never been in trouble, I was freaking out. I wasn't thinking straight. But you know, at no time did I wish her dead. That's God's domain, not mine."
Sandra Treadway is appealing her conviction, saying the informant's criminal record wasn't allowed to be considered in court.
Sandra Treadway: "According to what they showed and what was the jury had to judge on and everything, I guess it looked to them like I was guilty. But I am going to fight to clear my name because I am not guilty of all this."
"I absolutely believe 100 percent what my mother told me. There's no doubt in my mind," said Matthew Treadway. "I do. It's not 'want to,' it's 'I do believe it.'"
And what about the target of the hit? In a written statement read during Sandra's sentencing, Lyndsey Grindol surprisingly forgave her son's grandma for what she did. But privately? Lyndsey tells Crime Watch Daily the experience has left her shaken.
"My biggest fear is there's gonna be retaliation 'cause she's going to prison," said Lyndsey Grindol. "I don't feel safe anywhere around here."