EL CAJON, Calif. -- A mother and son conspired to hire a professional killer to kill the son's wife for financial gain, El Cajon police announced Wednesday.
June Carol Pickard, 57, and Francis Richard Noble, 31, were arraigned Tuesday in El Cajon Superior Court, each on two felony charges. Pickard pleaded not guilty to attempted solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit a crime. Noble pleaded not guilty to solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Bail was set at $1 million for each defendant.
El Cajon police were tipped off on Jan. 6 to the alleged murder-for-hire plot by an acquaintance of Pickard's.
The 31-year-old victim, whose name was withheld, has been married to Noble for three years, and the couple has a history of domestic violence, Lt. Steve Shakowski said. They have no children.
"I am convinced were it not for the concerned citizen coming forward and talking with police, the victim would have eventually been killed,'' Shakowski told reporters.
Upon receiving information about the defendants' alleged plans, an undercover police officer posed as a hitman and met with Pickard in the parking lot of Parkway Plaza mall. During the meeting, Shakowski said, Noble allegedly spoke of his mother's wish to have his wife killed.
Noble made an initial payment for the hit to the undercover officer, according to the lieutenant.
On Thursday, police contacted the alleged victim after she left the El Cajon home she shares with both defendants.
She was brought to the El Cajon Police Department where officers told her about her husband and mother-in-law's alleged plans, authorities said.
She was shocked and had no idea about her husband and mother-in-law's plans, according to police. Police showed her portions of surveillance video.
With the victim secured away, the undercover officer told the defendants that the victim had been killed and final payment was made, Shakowski said.
The defendants were then arrested at the same parking lot as their earlier meetings.
Police declined to say how much Noble allegedly paid the undercover officer.