Jeff Lytle of Monroe, Washington is in police custody after his attempt to hire a hitman went to the wrong number. Lytle, 42, allegedly sought out a man to murder his wife and 4-year-old daughter, whose names have not been released. Whomever the message was actually intended for, police are unsure as of yet - Lytle addressed the man only as “Shayne.” According to court documents obtained by KIRO news, the text message read:
"Hey Shayne hows it going. You remember you said that you would help me kill my wife. I'm going to take you up on that offer.”
Lytle dangled the life insurance money from his wife and daughter's policies before the hitman he believed he was talking to, hoping the money would act as incentive.
"(Her) life insurance is worth 1 million and if you want a bounes (sic) you can kill (my daughter). Her life insurance is 500k. I go to work 5 in the morning. (She) goes to work at 2:00pm so if you can make a robbery gone wrong or make it an accident, she works at walmart she gets off at 11:00. I'll split everything with the insurance 50/50. Please call or text me please.”
In what could be called a life-saving mixup, Lytle mistakenly sent the text to his former employer, who then called police. The former boss went to the wife's work to speak to her. She told him they'd been having money problems what with her husband being out of work, but didn't believe there was any marital strife that would prompt such a shocking, loathsome measure on her husband's part.
Law enforcement arrived at Lytle's house Wednesday afternoon to arrest him. At present he is under investigation for two counts of criminal solicitation for murder in the first degree, and two counts of domestic violence. During his first Snohomish County Court appearance on Thursday afternoon, bail was set at $1 million.
After the hearing, local news outlets spoke with Lytle's roommate German Ellano, who was fuzzy as to why his roommate had been arrested. When informed, he said that it could be a misunderstanding. “He's not going to do something like that,” Ellano said.
Lytle told investigators the texts were written several months ago and saved as drafts, for no other purpose than “venting,” and that there was no intention to send them to anyone. He says they were written after his wife got mad at him for speaking to another woman. Above all he insists that the messages were sent completely by mistake, and proposed that maybe his 4-year-old daughter had gotten ahold of the phone and sent them herself. Prosecutors aren't inclined to believe this version of events, believing that Lytle himself sent them, with the very real intention of soliciting someone for murder.
Detectives have applied for warrants to search the suspect's phone and documents regarding the family's life insurance plan. The investigation is still underway.