An Oklahoma marriage officiant arrived at the coffee shop in response to a Craigslist ad for an acting gig. She left with a bag full of ricin poison, ten glass vials, and written instructions on how to murder Danielle Layman’s ex-husband, the FBI says.
Layman, 37, is accused of plotting to assassinate her ex-husband, who now lives in Israel. She allegedly posted a Craigslist advertisement seeking an amateur actor to travel to Israel for a gig. When a candidate applied for the job, Layman allegedly took her to a Ponca City, Oklahoma coffee shop, where she showed the applicant a slide show on how to murder her ex, whom she claimed was a member of ISIS.
Tinsley Keefe is a marriage officiant and model, not a murderer. She was looking for posts “about acting and modeling, things like that. Didn’t really plan on anybody asking me to kill somebody overseas,” she told The Daily Beast.
But Layman’s April 18 Craigslist posting for a "10 day gig overseas for amateur, competitive pay!" looked innocent.
“For production overseas, looking for talent, 30-45 years old,” the ad read, according to a criminal complaint filed in Oklahoma’s Western District Court. “Doesn't have to be a professional actor. Required: Creative, outgoing and friendly, positive personality, boldness and bravery (some stunts may seem risky, although they are completely safe),” Layman allegedly wrote in a Craigslist post.
Her attorney did not return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
The ideal candidate would also be “Discrete (you must not disclose any information related to the plot to ANYONE under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, until after it premiers, except with explicit permission from production) valid passport not required but preferred: Experience in acting. Experience performing in magic shows, Experience as casino dealer.”
After exchanging text messages, Keefe and Layman agreed to meet at a coffee shop on May 9 to discuss what Keefe still believed to be an acting gig, according to the criminal complaint. Then Layman arrived with a laptop containing a slideshow on “Operation Insecticide.”
“She was very prepared,” Keefe said. “A little nervous, but very prepared. She’d clearly thought of everything in advance. She’d done her homework.”
The slideshow allegedly outlined how to kill Layman’s ex-husband, who works as a taxi driver in Tel Aviv, Israel. Though the pair divorced in 2003, they were reportedly embroiled in a vicious custody battle in 2014, after Layman and her new husband visited Israel on vacation with Layman’s children. Layman’s ex-husband reportedly learned that the family was in Israel, and filed a lawsuit with a regional rabbinical court, demanding visitation privileges with his daughter. The daughter was reportedly detained in Israel, although Layman’s social media shows the girl returned to the United States.
Three years after the custody battle, Layman still wanted to kill her ex, the criminal complaint claims. Over a series of slides, she allegedly instructed Keefe to travel to Tel Aviv and take up lodging in a tourist hostel. Once at the hostel, Keefe was to call Layman’s ex-husband and request tours around the city for several consecutive days. Every day, Keefe was to add ricin, a highly toxic substance to Layman’s ex-husband’s coffee.
“Prepare 2 cups of coffee. Add powder to one of them. As your mark arrives at your hostel to pick you up in the morning, offer him a cup of coffee,” Layman’s alleged instructions read. “Repeat every morning and monitor the driver's health. Report if he starts showing signs of illness, if he is vomiting, and if he fails to come pick you up at the hostel … When your mark is hospitalized [or] eliminated - move to a different hotel or motel until your flight back home.”
Layman described herself as an Israeli intelligence official, and her “mark” as a terrorist, Keefe said.
“It was supposed to be a member of ISIS who was transporting weapons,” Keefe said. “But it turned out to be her ex-husband.”
Layman allegedly gave Keefe ten glass vials and a plastic bag full of ricin. A colleague would contact Keefe to set up travel arrangements, Layman said. She even allegedly gave Keefe instructions on how to smuggle the lethal poison into Israel.
“The powder you are carrying is not a drug,” Layman wrote, according to the criminal complaint. “If questioned about it at the airport explain it is a religious relic that is supposed to ward off evil spirits.”
Keefe left the meeting unnerved.
“It was very confusing. On the way back to my house, I sent a text message to a friend of mine like, ‘hey, this is going on.’ I sent pictures of [the ricin] like ‘what do you think I ought to do?’” she said. “He said stop what you’re doing and call the police right now. I said I was going to maybe contact them when I got back home. He said nope, right now.”
When federal agents raided Layman’s home the following month, they allegedly found “several dozen castor beans,” which, along with the mortar and pestle they found in the kitchen, can be used to make ricin. “On the kitchen counter, agents found instructions on how to make ricin, apparently printed from the internet.”
Layman was arrested on charges of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire, for which she faces up to 20 years in prison.