A 56-year-old woman formerly of Amherst and a 55-year-old Kenmore woman she allegedly hired to kill her former husband, his new wife and their young daughter, are both in custody, federal and Kenmore law enforcement officials said Monday.
Debra Arno, the former Amherst woman who now lives in Mooresville, N.C., returned to Buffalo over the weekend and was ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. to be jailed pending further proceedings.
According to U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr., Arno has been accused in a criminal complaint of federal murder-for-hire charges that carry a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000 if she is convicted.
According to a federal court complaint, a person described as “a cooperating witness” told Kenmore Police last Tuesday that Lauren Frye, of Elmwood Avenue, Kenmore, had claimed Arno sent her money to carry out the alleged murder plot. Frye also has been jailed.
On Wednesday, Kenmore police charged Frye with second-degree conspiracy and second-degree aggravated harassment. According to court documents, Frye initially cooperated with Kenmore police and admitted to having “a relationship” with Arno.
But after detectives told Frye they had found in her flat $6,000 that Arno allegedly sent to her, Frye “asked for an attorney and the interview was terminated,” according to the federal court documents.
With help from East Aurora police, Kenmore police detectives located Arno’s former husband and his current wife and their child. Arno’s former husband allegedly told detectives that Arno “had struggled with mental illness,” according to the federal court document.
During a raid on Frye’s flat last week, police reported seizing three shotguns, two cellphones, photos of the targets of the alleged murder plot, “multiple documents from Arno to Frye” and a schedule of evening activities at the home of Arno’s former husband, according to the federal court document.
In one letter to Frye, Arno allegedly sent her $6,000 cash and said she would send $14,000 more “upon completion” of the plot.
The plot allegedly began in early February.