KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville man who admitted paying someone in Bitcoin on the dark web to kill his wife and make it look like "road rage or a car jacking gone wrong" faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a murder-for-hire charge.
Nelson P. Replogle, who is retired, has been in federal custody in Blount County since the case became public in April. He pleaded guilty on Monday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, the Department of Justice said.
Replogle will face sentencing on February 22, 2022 at 10:15 a.m.
The BBC became aware of the plot in the spring and alerted U.S. authorities.
Replogle paid what amounted to about $17,853.49 in cryptocurrency for the crime to be carried out, but records don't say who he hired after making contact on the dark web.
Replogle wanted someone to kill his wife, Ann, as she drove in her vehicle on an errand to the veterinarian, court records state.
"The defendant used the Internet to provide the would-be killer with his wife's name and address, a description of her vehicle, a specific date, time and place where she could be found and the murder effected, and his intention that the killing" appear to be road rage or a carjacking," the plea agreement states.
According to the FBI, BBC personnel in the United Kingdom alerted them to the alleged plot.
Knox County Sheriff's Office deputies went to the home to check on the wife's wellbeing, and FBI agents from the Knoxville office spoke with the Replogles. Both said they knew nothing about any plot, a complaint states.
The Bitcoin wallets used in the transaction were Coinbase wallets, FBI headquarters authorities determined.
Replogle owned the Coinbase account, according to court records.
Replogle, who draws a pension but has worked part time, used a First Horizon bank account to buy the Bitcoin, according to the FBI. His wife didn't have access to the account.
The bank corroborated with the FBI Coinbase's information about the transaction.
Before his arrest in April, Replogle was found shredding documents, the government alleges.
This spring, records show, the government and Replogle's lawyer talked about "the potential need for a mental health evaluation" for the defendant.