A Florida man accused of hiring a hitman to kill his ex-girlfriend and her family planned to pin the murders on the Black Lives Matter movement, federal authorities alleged.
The man, Daniel Slater, 51, of Jupiter, was arrested last year on charges of murder for hire, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess. He is accused of soliciting an associate to help him kill his ex-girlfriend, her sister and the sister's husband in the foiled plan.
A criminal complaint alleges that Slater thought his girlfriend's family had ruined his relationship. He offered to give the associate money and drugs for carrying out the crime, according to the document. Slater was arrested after a person described as his associate began working for the FBI.
Authorities began investigating Slater in February 2020 after the body of a 26-year-old woman was found in Everglades National Park in Miami, the complaint says. According to the Latin Times, the woman was identified as Brianne Slabaugh.
The complaint says Slater had asked Slabaugh to conduct surveillance of his ex-girlfriend and the ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. Slater instructed her to become close with the boyfriend "and then kill him," but she did not go through with the crime, according to the complaint.
The Sun-Sentinel newspaper of Fort Lauderdale reported that a medical examiner ruled that Slabaugh died from an accidental drug overdose.
The investigation of her death led the FBI to an associate of Slater's, authorities said. The associate began working with the agency and was asked to meet with Slater while wearing audio and recording devices, they said.
During a meeting in June 2020, Slater detailed how he wanted the associate to kill his ex-girlfriend, officials said. According to the complaint, the associate was instructed to knock out the woman's teeth, break her nose and throw acid on her face.
The associate was also told to kill the ex-girlfriend's sister and the sister's husband, the document said. It says Slater drove the associate to the sister's home and instructed the associate about what to do.
"Slater pointed out a window in the home, explained how [the sister] and her [husband] sat in their living room at specific times, and told the [associate] to shoot the victims through the window during one of those times," according to the complaint.
Slater told the associate to spray paint "Black Lives Matter" on the home after the slayings to "make it appear as if members with that movement were responsible," the complaint said. Around that time, protests were taking place around the country following the death of George Floyd.
The associate told Slater that they would need a hitman to help carry out the murders, according to the complaint. The hitman was actually an undercover FBI agent, it said.
On June 12, Slater met with the associate, who told him that the sister and her husband had been murdered and provided photoshopped images that appeared to show their bodies, authorities alleged.
Slater paid the associate and the "hitman" $400 and promised to give them more, officials said. Slater was arrested and charged three days later.
Slater initially pleaded not guilty. During a court hearing last week, he changed his plea to guilty as a part of a plea deal.
According to the Latin Times, Slater could have faced 90 years in jail if he had been convicted on all charges. Under the plea deal, he faces a maximum of 10 years.
A judge scheduled sentencing for Sept. 16. Attorneys for Slater did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.