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DA says no evidence of domestic violence in murder-for-hire case

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Wendy Farley of Brownville listens during her initial court appearance at the Piscataquis County Superior Court in Dover-Foxcroft on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 20, 2012.

BROWNVILLE, Maine — She talked about her husband being controlling, but police found nothing to suggest that murder-for-hire suspect Wendy S. Farley of Brownville suffered spousal abuse before she sought a hit man to kill her husband, the case’s prosecutor said Friday.

“The evidence that we have at this point doesn’t point to any domestic violence issues,” said Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy.

Farley’s husband, Luther “Rusty” Farley, should be considered a victim, not a perpetrator, Almy said.

The affidavit detailing the case against Farley, who remained Friday at the Piscataquis County Jail on $10,000 cash bail, details how police and the informant they wired, Michael Anderson of Milo, probed whether she or the Farleys’ 13 children were domestic violence victims even before she was arrested. The 46-year-old farmer’s wife was arrested and charged Tuesday with criminal solicitation for murder.

The affidavit shows that Anderson and the investigating officers struggled occasionally with a digital recorder they used to record Farley discussing her desire to have her husband killed in a sham hunting accident. At times she joked about it. Other times, she portrayed herself to Anderson as a victim of domestic stress, but not violence.

“She spoke matter-of-factly and her tone did not display any of the expected traits a reasonable person would expect based on the gravity and seriousness of the situation,” Brownville police Special Investigator Chad Perkins wrote in a report included in the affidavit.

Anderson’s recording of Wendy Farley on Sept. 18 had her bantering with him about “one of her children winning money at Wildwoods” and noted that “Farley’s mood seemed light and she often laughs.”

Anderson told Perkins during an interview on Sept. 13 that Farley came to his Milo home two days earlier and expressed worry that the man Anderson would hire to kill Luther Farley would try to extort more than $10,000 from her.

“Farley referred to it as the ‘blackmail hassle,’” the affidavit states. “Anderson asked Farley if she would settle for just having her husband beat up and she stated that beating him up would not accomplish anything.”

Farley came to Anderson’s home in Milo “with five young girls in the vehicle and stated to him [Anderson] that she needed it done for the protection of the girls,” the affidavit states.

“I asked [Anderson] if she had elaborated on what protection meant,” Perkins wrote in the affidavit, “and he stated ‘I guess because he [Luther Farley] is overprotective and won’t let them do what they wanted to do.”

According to the affidavit, Perkins immediately asked Anderson if Luther Farley’s behavior was “typical of a conservative family or atypical and to the point where the children were not allowed normal contact” with others. Anderson answered that he thought Farley “was protective in a caring way” and from what Anderson knew of him, Farley “was an honest and sincere person.”

Anderson called Luther Farley “quiet and soft-spoken” and answered more questions from Perkins by saying he had never seen Farley “display negative or over-reactive emotions with his children.” Nor did Anderson see any signs of strife between the Farleys, the affidavit states.

Anderson repeatedly asked Farley why she wanted her husband killed, once asking “if her husband had ever been sexually or physically abusive to the kids, and she stated that he had not been, even to her,” the affidavit states. “Anderson then asked how they got along and she stated that ‘As far as he’s concerned, everything’s peachy.’”

Before Tuesday’s arrest, Brownville police had one report of problems at the Farleys’ New Morning Farm. One of the couple’s children, Simon, told police in 2009 that he had run away from home “because of all the yelling at the house,” the affidavit states.

Anderson said his relationship with Farley was platonic, but that he knew that she “was very active with meeting men on the Internet and stated that she was a ‘player’ in the ‘sex game,’” the affidavit states.

At one point, he said, Farley had him take a picture of her breasts for her to post on the Internet.

Anderson, who operates a taxi and lives with his girlfriend, said he was surprised at the situation “and was concerned that maybe she was trying to set him up,” the affidavit states.

The investigation unfolded quickly, starting Sept. 12 with Anderson’s approaching an off-duty Milo police officer in a supermarket to tell him he had been solicited to commit murder, and ending with Farley’s arrest six days later.

Anderson occasionally fumbled his assignment. He lost one opportunity to record Wendy Farley when he dropped the recorder into a boot on his back porch rather than placing it there. Another opportunity was aborted when she surprised him in bed one morning, the affidavit states.

Perkins missed recording part of an interview with Anderson when the battery to his recorder died, the affidavit states. Police gave Anderson a small digital recorder rather than a more elaborate wire because that’s all they had, the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, Anderson repeatedly got Farley to assure him that she knew what she wanted done. She said that she had pondered killing her husband for years because a divorce “would not work.” At times they dickered over the hit money, with Farley promising Anderson that she could get more cash. She said the money she would give him would not be traceable. Nor would she rat him out, the affidavit states.

“I have five girls at home and I am not going to jail,” Farley told Anderson, according to the affidavit.

Farley was similarly certain that people would believe that her husband was killed in an accident, not in a murder, and they would never suspect her, according to the affidavit.

Farley said her husband “did not have enemies, debtors, grudges nor are they into drugs or anything and that she went to church and these were all factors that had to be considered,” the affidavit states. “She stated she had character witnesses that would vouch for her and there would be nothing that would make people wonder if she did it.”

“She stated that her outward life did not reflect her intentions,” the affidavit states.

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