Woman charged in internet murder-for-hire pleads not guilty

Kelly Harper

A 37-year-old Columbus woman accused of hiring someone over the Internet to commit murder has plead not guilty.

Kelly Harper is charged with using a murder-for-hire site on the dark web and providing the description of her intended target to the site’s administrator in Dec. 2020.

Harper shared a screenshot of a bitcoin wallet with $5,633, when the site administrator requested proof of payment, according to the criminal complaint.

Three journalists reportedly uncovered Harper’s involvement when they were investigating the murder-for-site internet site and contacted the person who Harper allegedly wanted to kill, according to the criminal complaint.

Sun Prairie police responded to a suspicious call at a Sun Prairie home on Jan. 12 and met with the journalists who provided details about their investigation and the chat communications between Harper and the murder-for-hire site administrator from Dec. 3-Dec. 10, 2020.

The girlfriend of the man who was targeted by Harper filed a complaint with the FBI on Jan. 13, 2021.

During a Feb. 5 federal search warrant of Harper’s Columbus home, FBI agents found screenshots from the murder-for-hire site and pictures sent to the administrator. The FBI’s analysis of the bitcoin transfer traced the account back to Harper.

A not guilty plea was entered for Harper during the virtual Feb. 16 arraignment hearing of the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Harper is being held at the Dane County Jail.

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