Three former US Army soldiers were convicted in a murder-for-hire killing of a Philippines real estate agent that was paid for by an international crime boss.
The case involved international crime boss Paul Le Roux, former US Army soldiers Joseph Hunter, Adam Samia, and Carl David Stillwell. The victim was Catherine Lee, a real estate agent in the Philippines.
Here's the background to the story:
Around 2011, Le Roux enlisted real estate broker Catherine Lee from Las Piñas City, Philippines, to purchase vacation property in Batangas for him and paid her the equivalent of $3m in advance. Lee enlisted an unnamed associate to fix the deal, however, that associate disappeared with the money.
In early February 2012, Lee received an email from two men, who had been hired by Hunter. They introduced themselves as Bill Maxwell and Tony, claiming to be Canadians living in Manila and seeking to invest in real estate. She met the two men and, over the course of three days, showed them various properties. She was last seen alive at 4:30 pm of February 12, their third day, by the owners of a property they had visited and three other brokers. She departed in a car with her clients. Her body was found at 6:30 am the next day in a field in Taytay, Rizal, an industrial city an hour east of Manila. She had been shot four times, a gunshot wound under each eye, which the National Bureau of Investigation suspected to be a signature killing. Dissatisfied with the way the killing was carried out, Hunter dismissed the two hit men.
The NBI drew parallels to the case of Noimie Edillor, who was killed in a similar way, unsolved as her family had refused to cooperate with the authorities. The NBI believes the associate was also assassinated, although no body was ever found.
This leads us up to today, where the soldiers were found guilty.
The Associated Press reports:
Three former American soldiers were found guilty Wednesday for the murder-for-hire of a female real estate agent in the Philippines whom an international crime boss accused of cheating him in a land deal.
Joseph Hunter, a 52-year-old former U.S. Army sniper and a onetime sergeant with a Special Forces background, was working as a security chief for weapons and drug trafficker Paul Le Roux when he recruited two former soldiers for what was called “ninja work.”
In 2012, he contacted Adam Samia, 43, and Carl David Stillwell, 50, and had them travel from their homes in Roxboro, North Carolina after Le Roux promised to pay them $35,000 a piece for the hit job.
Prosecutors said Samia and Stillwell pretended to be potential real estate clients for a property in the countryside outside of Manila. On their return trip to the capital city, Samia pulled out a .22-caliber gun and killed the broker by shooting her twice in the face as she sat in the back seat of a van.
After being paid, the killers were ordered back to the United States, where they were subsequently arrested in 2015.
All three men denied planning the killing.
However, what is interesting is that the government used Le Roux, a known international criminal, as its witness against the men. He has also pleaded guilty to contracting the men in the killing and was working with prosecutors in testifying against them.
Le Roux is a former programmer, former criminal cartel boss and informant to the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He is currently in US custody for ordering the assassinations of six people.
“This horrifying real-life murder-for-hire case included details usually seen in action movies,” U.S. Attorney General Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Hunter, Samia and Stillwell conspired to end the lives of people overseas whom they had never met.”
Hunter is already serving 20 years for plotting the murder of a federal agent.
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