They had connected on LocalBitcoins, a kind of Craigslist for those who want to buy cryptocurrency near their place. Allwine opened the Bitcoin Wallet application on his phone and handed over the money, then scanned the QR code displayed on the phone to transfer the Bitcoin. The transaction went smoothly. Then Allwine went back to his car to find out that he had locked his keys inside.
It was his birthday. He was 43 years old. I had to join a woman, Michelle Woodard, for lunch.
Allwine had met Woodard online a few months earlier. The relationship had progressed quickly and for a while, they were exchanging dozens of messages a day. Their passion had since, but they still slept together from time to time. While I was waiting for the locksmith to arrive, I told him that he had stopped to buy bitcoin and that he was late. Once the door opened, I met Woodard at the Blue Door Pub, a burger called, determined to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
That night, he offered himself another birthday present. Using the e-mail address email@example.com, I wrote to a person I only knew as Yura. "I have bitcoins now," he says.
Yura ran a site called Besa Mafia, which operated the dark web and was only accessible by anonymous browsers like Tor. More importantly for Allwine, Kiss Mafia claimed to have ties to the Albanian crowd and announced the services of independent freelance killers. The home page of the site featured a photo of a man with a sensible marketing copy: "If you want to kill someone or beat him, we are the good guys."
Yura promised that the clients' money was held by an escrow service and paid only after the completion of a job. But allwine was concerned that when I deposit money, it simply ends up in someone's bitcoin wallet. However, I wanted Yura's assertions to be true, so despite his best instincts, I transferred Bitcoin. "They say Besa means trust, so please, do not break that," he wrote to Yura. "For reasons that are too personal and that would give me my identity, I need this bitch to be dead."
"This bitch" was Amy Allwine, his wife.
Stephen and Amy Allwine had met 24 years ago at Ambassador University, a religious school in Big Sandy, Texas. Stephen arrived in first grade with a group of friends from his church youth group near Spokane, in Washington State. Amy was from Minnesota and did not know many people at school. She quickly joined the crowd in Washington. She was sunny and easy-going, and she became a regular dance partner, an activity that brought them together, but not too much. They belonged to the Worldwide Church of God, which observed a strict Saturday Saturday, rejected holidays with a pagan influence like Christmas and offended excessive physical contact on the dance floor.
In 1995, while they were still at the ambassador, the United Church of God broke away from the Worldwide Church of God. Stephen and Amy joined the new sect, which adopted the Internet as a means of spreading the gospel. For Stephen, a computer enthusiast, it was a logical choice.
After college, the couple got married and moved to Minnesota to be close to Amy's family. Amy could tame even the most unruly animals. She taught for a few years at a local dog training school before starting her own business, Active Dog Sports Training. The couple adopted an are taking him home when he was only two days old. In 2011, they moved into a home in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, an enclave without commuters and farmers in the Mississippi Valley, not far from the Twin Cities. Amy was converted into a large farm shed on the property into a dog training arena, and her home was quickly turned into a real bazaar, with the Australian Shepherd's fur and Newfoundland's Allwines covering trim and a trail of unfinished Lego projects on the kitchen center island.
From the outside, nothing seemed to go awry. Stephen reached the rank of eldest in the United Church of God and Amy became a deaconess. The church was following the Jewish calendar and on Friday the family was dining with Amy's parents, whom Stephen called Mom and Dad. On Saturday, they attended the services. Each year, they would join the autumn festival of the church, which was held in different parts of the world. As Amy's business grew, she traveled across the country with friends to attend dog shows. In their free time, the Allwines maintained a website called Allwine.net, which included a list of acceptable songs and instructional dance videos showing how to have fun without touching each other too much. In one of them, Amy is wearing khakis and hiking boots, while Stephen is wearing a polo shirt and jeans, and both are dancing online for "We Go Together".
The day after Stephen bought bitcoin, I uploaded a photo of Amy on Allwine.net. The photo was taken during a family vacation in Hawaii and she showed Amy wearing a teal shirt, with a broad smile on her tanned face and freckles. About 25 minutes after posting the picture, Stephen is logged into his dogdaygod email account and sent the link to Yura. "She's about 5", she looks like weighing 200 pounds, he writes. "The best time to kill her," he continued, would be during an upcoming trip to Moline, Ill., Accident, say, pushing his Toyota Sienna pickup truck to the driver's side he would add some bitcoins.
Yura confirmed the details shortly afterwards in clumsy English. "I will wait at the airport, and when you have a chance that it will kill a car accident." If the car accident did not work, I added, "the gunman will shoot his deadly." Later, I reminded dogdaygod to concoct an alibi: "If he's please make sure you are surrounded [sic] by people most of the time, and spend money shopping in malls or public places where they are monitored by video. "
At a typical day, Stephen was not surrounded by people. He and Amy lived on 28 acres in a dead end street. Their house was a single-storey, double-width caravan, located in the basement, but it had four bedrooms, a spacious living room and an open kitchen. Stephen had installed solar panels on the roof, which boasted of generating so much energy that he was able to reinject energy back into the grid. I spent a lot of time in his basement office, managing technical problems related to the technology of call centers. Working from home gave her two jobs, one with the Optanix computer services company and the other with Cigna, the health insurer. His colleagues often consulted him with particularly thorny problems.
The pastor of the Allwines preached to overcome the carnal desires and Stephen himself counseled couples in the congregation with marital problems. When he was alone, however, his attention was lost. I ventured on Naughtydates.com and LonelyMILFs.com. I found an escort on the classified Backpage site and I went to Iowa twice to make love to her. Through his consulting work, I learned about Ashley Madison, the dating service that addresses married people. It's there that I met Michelle Woodard.
At their first date, Stephen accompanied Woodard to a doctor's appointment. A few weeks later, she joined him for work trips. Woodard appreciated Stephen's extraordinary calm. On one trip, their connecting flight from Philadelphia was canceled. The next day, Stephen held a meeting at 8 am in Hartford, Connecticut, and without any hassle, he rented a car and drove it over the remaining 210 kilometers.
A month before Stephen ordered his wife's blow, he told Woodard that he was going to try to do things with Amy. In truth, the case seemed to intensify his desire for another kind of life.
Disciplined and computer literate, Stephen was theoretically the ideal criminal for a black network crime. I've gone through it using anonymous repositories, which remove message identification information, and Tor, which conceals an IP address by randomly bouncing communications over a relay network. And I've concocted a complex story: dogdaygod was a rival dog trainer who wanted Amy dead because Amy had slept with her husband. In his dark-web character, I transferred his own unfaithfulness to his wife.
Stephen has programmed the murder for the weekend of March 19, while Amy had to travel to Moline for a dog training competition. But at the end of the weekend, he wrote to Yura to complain that he had not seen any news of Amy's death. Yura explained that the killer had not found the right moment to hit: "He must be in a position where he can hit his car at the driver's door, side collision [sic] to make sure she dies. The Besa mafia administrator seemed to understand that it was important to believe that Amy had been out on a trip. "We are not interested in why people are killed," he wrote. "But if she is your wife or a member of your family, we can do it in your city, too," he said, adding that his client could leave the city on the appointed day. He suggested that Amy could be killed at home and agreed to have her house completely burned for 10 extra bitcoins, or $ 4,100.
"It's not my wife," Stephen replied, "but I thought the same thing." The next day, I collected the money. When I transferred the bitcoin to Besa Mafia, however, its screen was refreshed and it did not recognize the 34-digit code that was displayed. Panicking, I was afraid that the cryptocurrency I had had so much trouble acquiring disappeared without a trace. I quickly copied the code and pasted it into a note on his iPhone, then sent the code via email to Yura under the subject line "HELP!" Less than a minute later, I deleted the note.
Yura responded seven hours later, assuring that the deal had been successful, but days were passing and nothing had happened. Over the next few weeks, Stephen's messages to Yura alternated between laconic disappointment and more detailed instructions. "I know her husband has a big tractor, so I suspect I have some gas cans in the garage," he wrote, adding, "I ask you to take it only the father or the child. " As a friendly Satan-ready chatroom, Yura responded promptly with messages reinforcing his client's lowest instincts. "Yes, she's really a bitch and she deserves to die," he writes. Ninety minutes later, I added, "Please note that 80% of our hitmen are gang members who traffic in drugs, get beat up, get murdered from time to time. " Against a supplement, he says, dogdaygod could make arrangements for a more practiced killer – a former Chechen sniper-to handle the job.
Stephen had spent at least $ 12,000 for the idea of the hitman. Instead of giving up or reconsidering without contemplating, I seemed to become more determined. I logged into Dream Market, a dark market better known for selling drugs, where I could explore other methods of killing. Common sense would suggest a variety of usernames, but I once again came across as a dogdaygod, as if I had become the character he had created. He would make his loss; The reimbursement for Amy's life insurance policy was $ 700,000.
In April 2016, About two months after Stephen first ordered his wife, Besa Mafia was hacked and Yura's messages with customers, including dogdaygod, were thrown into an online mailbox. The data file revealed that users with names such as Killerman and kkkcolsia had paid tens of thousands of dollars in bitcoins for people to be killed in Australia, Canada and Turkey, as well as in the United States. United. The orders of blows soon reach the FBI, which instructed local field offices across the country to contact the intended victims named in the Besa mafia data file. The FBI's special agent, Asher Silkey, who was working at the office's outdoor office in Minneapolis, learned that someone by the name of dogdaygod wanted Amy Allwine to be killed. I had to warn him of the threat to his life.
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On a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, just after Memorial Day, Silkey asked for the help of Terry Raymond, a local police officer, who drove to Allwines' car. Cottage Grove is a sleepy suburb, but, like the country's police department, local police officers have been called upon to deal more and more frequently with online threats. Raymond, a reserved man with angular features accentuated by a thin beard, was part of the force for 13 years and was the designated specialist in forensic computer science department.
When Silkey and Raymond arrived, Stephen Allwine invited them in. The police told him that Amy was out and they remained silent while he called his cell. Stephen seemed socially clumsy to Raymond, but he did not think much about it. I have a relationship with all kinds in his work.
The agents returned to the police station and Amy arrived shortly thereafter. They met in the lobby, where an oil painting depicts the department's dog, Blitz, and led to a poorly furnished interview room. Because the FBI was handling the investigation, Raymond had mostly listened to Silkey and had explained to him that someone knowing the timing of his travels and his daily routine wanted to see her die. Amy was stunned. She was still confused when Silkey mentioned the allegation that Amy was sleeping with the husband of a dog trainer. She could not think of anyone who considered her an enemy. "If you have suspicious activity, call us," Raymond said as he left.
A few weeks later, the Allwines installed a motion-activated video surveillance system at home, installing cameras at different entrances. Stephen, meanwhile, bought a rifle, a 9mm Springfield XDS. He and Amy decided to keep him under his bed. They went to an appointment at the shooting range.
July 31 Amy called Silkey, panicked: Over the last week, she had received two anonymous email threats. Silkey went to the Allwines, where Stephen explained the emails and listened to Amy explain to the agents what had happened.
The first message came from an anonymous remailer registered in Austria. He reads in part:
Amy, I always blame you for having my life in ruins … I see you've put up a security system, and people on the Internet have informed me that the police were snooping with my previous emails. . I have been assured that the emails are not found and that they will not find me, but I can not attack you directly with them.
Here is what will happen. Since I can not reach you, I will eat after all that you love.
The email then listed information relating to the location of Amy's family members, based on information provided by the sender on Radaris.com, a site offering subscribers of contact information and reference reports. The writer also dropped details that only one person after Amy could know the location of the gas in the Allwines' house, the fact that they had moved their RV to a new location parking, the color of the shirt that they wore. two days earlier. "Here's how you can save your family," continues the e-mail. "Suicide." The writer has proposed several methods allowing him to achieve this goal.
A week later, the second anonymous message arrived, reprimanding him for not committing suicide: "Are you so selfish that you will put your families [sic] lives at risk? "
Amy handed over her computer, hoping that something on it will help the agents find her potential killer. Stephen gave the agents a laptop and his cell phone Samsung Galaxy. The FBI created a copy of the applications, processes, and files from these devices, and returned them one or two days later.
Amy gave Silkey the names of the people who taught in her arena, pet owners with whom she had worked, her best friend. The FBI agent interviewed four of them and extracted credit reports for several contacts. The death of Amy was an area in which few people benefited. However, dogdaygod had paid thousands of dollars to kill her, suggesting motivating staff. In addition, his persecutor was careful to ask Yura not to kill Amy's husband. Investigating a spouse would seem like a logical step. Silkey interviewed Stephen, in addition to imaging the devices, but it is unclear whether he did more. The FBI refused the interview requests, and the Cottage Grove police did not have a lot of information about the office work. In addition to summoning Raymond during the initial interview and having sent him a copy of the threatening emails, the agency did not involve the local police.
Meanwhile, Amy has been trying to deal with vicious threats. She enrolled at the Citizens Academy of the Police Department, explaining in her candidacy that she wanted to "learn more about the police department, its functioning and its functioning". Sgt. Gwen Martin, Course Leader, was not aware of the threats. on Amy's life, Amy did not express her concerns to any of the other course participants as they were training to shoot at targets and recover fingerprints from A can of Coca-Cola. Amy asked to be assigned to the officer from Kindergarten to Grade 9 for her commute. She was so excited about exchanging tips on dog obedience and odor training that the officer let her let her wander for an hour or two longer. . At the end of the program, she celebrated with the rest of the group a small graduation party.
But Amy still felt helpless. The occasional migraines she was suffering from became more frequent and she had trouble remembering things. She gave a brave face when she taught the class, but she feared that her abuser was among her crowd of dog trainers.
One summer night, she sat outside with her sister, looking up at the stars and wondering who was responsible for the veil that had been inflicted on her life. Years earlier, when her sister had started her studies, Amy had noticed her every week for not feeling homesick. Now, his sister has returned the favor. In each note she quoted scriptures.
A Saturday afternoon In November, Stephen and Amy went to church with their son. The road crossed the floodplain east of the Mississippi River, past yellow fields, yards full of auto parts, and leafless wooded ravines. The United Church of God rented premises to a local Methodist congregation in a red brick building. There was something austere about the decor, as if by the only architectural constraint the devil could be held at a distance.
Inside the chapel, the family sat in a bench and joined men in suit jackets, women with modest hems and children with freshly combed hair. Pastor Brian Shaw recited the New Testament warning against "having your eyes filled with adultery and that can not stop from the outside". I talked about Job, which resulted in him not looking lustfully at women. The cost of not following Job's example was expensive: "When we do not control our sinful nature, they control us."
On Sunday, Stephen woke up shortly before 6 am, as usual, and went down to his basement office, where I connected to the Optanix system to begin work. At noon, I walked upstairs to lunch with Amy and their son. Amy, a passionate baker, had a pumpkin left over in a dessert that she had prepared two days earlier and she had put it in the kitchen's slow cooker to roast it. Shortly after, she started to go crazy.
Amy's father came to work on a dog door that he was installing in the garage. Stephen told him that Amy was not feeling well and that she was resting in the room. Her father left without seeing her. Five minutes after starting to go home, Stephen called to ask his father-in-law to turn around and pick up his grandson, explaining that he wanted to take Amy to a clinic. .
At dusk, Stephen fetched gasoline, then went to fetch the boy from his in-laws and took him to Culver's, a chain of family-friendly restaurants. It was their usual dinner on Sunday night at Culver, while Amy was running dog training classes. They sat in the well-lit space and ate chicken fillets and grilled cheese.
When they came home, the boy got out of the van and rushed home to his parents' room. Amy's body lay in an unnatural position, the blood accumulated around her head. The 9 mm Springfield XDS was at his side.
Stephen called 911.
"I think my wife has committed suicide," he said. "There is blood everywhere."
Sergeant Gwen Martin arrived home a few minutes after the 911 call. When she saw Amy 's body on the floor, she remembered a training at the school. Citizen's Academy and broke down in tears. Another sergeant took over and Martin retired in the car of his squad. Recovering her composure, she turned to the laptop mounted on the dashboard and conducted a search for police calls at the residence. She was stunned to find the report that Terry Raymond had written about the dark-skinned threats that threatened Amy's life. Martin grabbed his phone and dialed Detective Sergeant Randy McAlister, who ran the Cottage Grove investigations.
McAlister, a 47-year-old young man who surrounded Harley, is often attached to the frequent joke in the department. I drank coffee in a cup where it was written: "Because of the confidentiality of my work, I do not know what I do." But the behavior of her shredder hid her seriousness. A decade earlier, McAlister had responded to a murder in a nearby town. a couple had been killed at home by the woman's former boyfriend while her children huddled nearby. The woman had previously told the police that her ex-jealous had contacted her in violation of a court order. Frustrated by the failure of this woman's system, McAlister launched a program to protect potential victims of criminal harassment and targeted violence. When Raymond mentioned the occult network threats that Amy had received, I suggested, a database kept by the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit; This could help them to profile a potential author. But he had no authority in the case.
Now, I ran to the Allwines. Upon entering the garage, the pumpkin aroma roasting, still in the slow cooker, hit him in the nose. It seemed strange to him. people do not usually start cooking just before killing themselves. There were other things about the scene: There was blood smear on both sides of the bedroom door. And while the earthen room was covered with dog hair, the floor of the adjacent room was clean.
The aroma of roasted pumpkin seemed strange to him. People do not usually start cooking just before killing themselves.
While McAlister was waiting for the forensic pathologist and the state's criminal investigators to arrive, an officer drove Stephen and his son to the police station. While a colleague was sitting with the boy in the station room, Raymond escorted Stephen into the same interview room where Silkey and he had met Amy five months earlier. Raymond donned a pair of latex gloves and wiped Stephen's cheek in search of DNA. "Are you going to get it from my in-laws?" Stephen asked.
"No, it should just be you and yours," said Raymond. I asked Stephen to review what he had done that day.
Stephen was cooperative, even though Raymond thought his behavior was woody for a man who had just lost his wife. I reminded the detective that Amy had an FBI file; I said that his computer had acted strangely. "Being in the IT industry is frustrating because I know how things are supposed to work in a legitimate world," he said, adding, "I do not know anything about hacking or anything like that."
For the next three days, the investigators swept the scene of the crime. State technicians sprayed a chemical called luminol on the floors and then turned off the lights. Where the luminol hit the blood or the cleaning solution, it has become bright blue. The glow showed that the corridor had been cleaned; there were also footprints that went from the bedroom to the laundry room.
The Cottage Grove police executed a search warrant against the house. McAlister stood at the dining room table, recording the evidence. Raymond went down to Stephen's office in the basement. While walking through the door, he saw all the surfaces covered with waste: folders, cable files, external disks, SD cards, a voice recorder and a Fitbit. There were hard drives of one type that had not been used for nearly a decade. On Stephen's desk were three screens and a MacBook Pro laptop – not the machine that he had given to the FBI.
The agents took their mail to the floor, then one by one handed the items to McAlister for them to log on.
"Damn shit," I thought as the equipment was hoarded. Then, "Jeez, no more." But devices and drives have continued to come. Sixty-six in all.
Comme le crime impliquait la mort locale, la police de Cottage Grove a pris le contrôle de l'enquête. Deux semaines et demi après la mort d’Amy, le FBI s’est inquiété de son dossier. Lorsque la police a ouvert les documents, McAlister et Raymond ont vu pour la première fois l'intégralité des messages de la mafia Besa. C'est à ce moment-là qu'ils ont appris que la personne qui voulait Amy mort s'appelait dogdaygod.
À ce stade, Stephen était un suspect, mais aucune preuve directe ne le rattachait au meurtre. Que son ADN soit sur tout était à peine remarquable; c'était sa maison. La vidéo du système de sécurité Allwines n'a révélé rien d'anormal, bien que les enregistrements soient incomplets. Stephen a expliqué qu'Amy et lui avaient négligé d'activer la caméra par-dessus la porte coulissante en verre car leurs chiens entraient et sortaient constamment. McAlister espérait que les réponses seraient à l'intérieur du dispositif que Raymond avait sorti du sous-sol des Allwines.
À partir du moment les fichiers de la mafia Besa sont apparus dans le pastebin, les blogueurs avaient conclu que le site était une arnaque. L'un après l'autre, les clients de Yura se sont plaints que les coups qu'ils avaient commandés n'avaient pas été exécutés. Mais McAlister ne voulait rien prendre pour acquis. Avec le détective Jared Landkamer, il a identifié 10 autres cibles des ordres de la mafia de Besa aux États-Unis et a contacté les services de police de leur lieu de résidence. Ils pourraient avoir des pistes dans leur cas ou peut-être sauver d'autres vies.
McAlister a partagé le travail électronique. J'ai senti les ordinateurs d'un spécialiste de la criminalistique numérique dans un département de police voisin. Landkamer a assigné les courriels des Allwines à comparaître, puis a passé de longues journées à les lire. Raymond a commencé par extraire des données des téléphones de Stephen. Dans une pièce sans fenêtre bordée de moniteurs de problèmes de département, j'ai déployé un logiciel qui trie les applications de données ici, enregistre les journaux là-bas et reconstruit les chronologies des périphériques. Au téléphone, Stephen avait confié l'image au FBI, Raymond avait trouvé les applications Orfox et Orbot, utilisées pour accéder à Tor. Il a également trouvé des messages texte contenant des codes de confirmation de LocalBitcoins. Le FBI semblait leur avoir manqué ou leur avait fait peu de cas.
Quand j'ai scruté le téléphone d'Amy, j'ai constaté que le jour de sa mort, elle semblait devenir de plus en plus confuse. À 13h48, elle a visité la page Wikipedia sur le vertige. À 1h49, elle a tapé "DUY" dans Bing. Puis, une minute plus tard, "EYE", puis "DIY VWHH". C'était comme si elle cherchait désespérément à comprendre pourquoi la pièce tournait mais ne pouvait pas effectuer une simple recherche.
Dans une interview avec un enquêteur de l'Etat, Stephen avait avoué sa liaison avec Woodard. Raymond a trouvé un contact pour "Michelle" dans le téléphone de Stephen, et lorsque les enquêteurs ont interrogé Woodard, elle leur a parlé du déjeuner d'anniversaire, quand Stephen a annoncé qu'il avait verrouillé ses clés dans la voiture tout en achetant du bitcoin. L’historique des appels de Stephen a confirmé qu’il avait téléphoné ce jour-là auprès de Wendy's à Minneapolis pour obtenir une assistance routière. Les détectives ont utilisé les codes de confirmation de SMS sur le téléphone de Stephen pour trouver son compte LocalBitcoins. Cela les a menés à sa correspondance avec un vendeur concernant l’échange de 6 000 dollars en espèces.
Dans les appareils de Stephen, Landkamer a trouvé des adresses électroniques secondaires menant aux noms d'utilisateur que j'avais l'habitude d'accéder à Backpage et à LonelyMILFS.com. Cela ne constituait pas une incrimination en soi, mais cela suggérait un motif.
Alors que Stephen avait dissimulé l'essentiel de ses activités criminelles, il n'a pas purgé son historique de recherche sur Internet, plus anodin. Le 16 février, quelques minutes avant la première proposition de Dogdaygod de tuer Amy à Moline, Stephen avait cherché «Moline il» sur Google sur son MacBook Pro. Un jour plus tard, il avait examiné sa police d'assurance-vie. En juillet, peu de temps avant qu'Amy reçoive le premier courriel de menace contenant des adresses glanées de Radaris, j'ai visité les pages Radaris des membres de la famille d'Amy.
Le meurtre était rare à Cottage Grove et les détectives, confrontés à des preuves circonstancielles et au caractère glissant de la toile sombre, étaient obsédés par l’affaire. Allongé dans son lit une nuit après avoir lu le dossier du FBI d'Amy, Landkamer chercha "dogdaygod" dans Google. Quand il a vu les résultats, je l'ai appelé à sa femme. Le moteur de recherche avait indexé certains messages sur Dream Market, le marché sur le Web sombre où les médicaments étaient vendus.
Landkamer écrivit immédiatement à McAlister ce qu'il avait trouvé. McAlister a allumé Tor sur son ordinateur portable personnel et a tout mis en place sur Dream Market. Dans un fil de discussion, dogdaygod a demandé si quelqu'un vendait de la scopolamine, un puissant médicament sur ordonnance. McAlister avait travaillé comme ambulancier paramédical. Je savais donc que la scopolamine était prescrite pour le mal des transports, mais elle pouvait aussi rendre les gens flexibles et amnésiques, ce qui lui valut le surnom de Devil's Breath. En faisant défiler l'écran, je suis arrivé à un commentaire d'un utilisateur qui a supposé que dogdaygod voulait utiliser la scopolamine à des fins récréatives. "Il y a un vendeur", écrit la personne, "mais évitez ce compagnon de merde. C'est dangereux comme de la merde et tu vas tuer quelqu'un. "
Plus tard, le contenu gastrique d'Amy s'est révélé positif à la scopolamine. Mais c’était une bizarrerie dans les sauvegardes Apple qui fournissait la preuve la plus solide. Le spécialiste de la criminalistique numérique d'un département voisin a découvert, archivé dans le MacBook Pro de Stephen, qu'une note avec une adresse de portefeuille bitcoin était apparue sur l'iPhone de Stephen en mars 2016. Cela faisait 23 secondes avant que dogdaygod n'écrive frénétiquement Yura avec le même bitcoin à 34 chiffres code portefeuille Quarante secondes après que dogdaygod a envoyé un message à Yura, la note a été supprimée du téléphone de Stephen. But deleted files don't disappear until they're overwritten by other files. Several months later, when Stephen backed up his phone to iTunes, the crucial history was preserved on his laptop.
McAlister was elated. The detectives had linked Stephen's offline persona, a church elder concerned with the propriety of dance moves, with his online ones—the philanderer and the aggrieved would-be murderer. The enticing anonymity of the dark web that nurtured Stephen's crime had given him a sense of omnipotence. He failed to appreciate that this cloak of power didn't follow him to the clear web and to the real world.
Stephen Allwine's trial lasted for eight days. County prosecutors paraded a string of colorful witnesses to the stand: the manager of the pawn shop where Stephen sold his silver, the Backpage escort in Iowa, and Woodard. McAlister held up the murder weapon in court, and in one awkward moment that would become the subject of endless jokes at the Cottage Grove police station, Jared Landkamer defined “MILF” for the court.
Prosecutors Fred Fink and Jamie Kreuser used the testimony to outline a theory: Stephen had poisoned Amy with a large dose of scopolamine, either to kill or incapacitate her. Either way, while she grew dazed and light-headed, she didn't die. So Stephen shot her with their gun in the hallway. Then he moved the body into the bedroom and cleaned up the blood. When he left to get gas and take his son to Culver's, he was careful to save the receipts.
The jury deliberated for six hours before finding Stephen guilty. On February 2, he appeared in a packed courtroom for sentencing. One by one, friends and family told the judge how much Amy had meant to them. (Amy's family declined to be interviewed.) Then Stephen rose to plead his case.
The anonymity of the dark web that nurtured Allwine's crime had given him a sense of omnipotence. He failed to appreciate that this cloak of power didn't follow him to the clear web and the real world.
Breathlessly, he tried to refute the technical testimony about backup files and bitcoin wallets. Then he shifted to his spiritual gifts. In jail, where he had been held during the trial, he was ministering to drug addicts and child molesters. He had converted at least three nonbelievers, he said.
“Mr. Allwine,” the judge said when he had finished, “my perceptions aren't going to alter the sentence in this case. But my perception is that you're an incredible actor. That you can turn tears on and off. That you are a hypocrite and that you are cold.” He sentenced him to life without parole. (The case is headed to appeals court.) From a room adjacent to the courtroom, McAlister watched through a window with Raymond and Landkamer, taking satisfaction as the judge admonished the criminal. But the moment was not without uneasiness. McAlister saw why Stephen might not have triggered alarm bells during the FBI's dark-web investigation: Stephen and Amy appeared to have a happy relationship, with no history of violence or substance abuse. He knew that hindsight bias could color investigators' conclusions, but he also had the feeling that Amy's death might have been prevented. Threat assessment experts use a four-part checklist to determine whether an anonymous harasser is an intimate partner. Amy's harasser met all four conditions in that test: The person closely tracked her whereabouts, seemed to live nearby, knew her habits and future plans, and spoke of her with contempt or disgust.
In the months following the trial, McAlister was promoted to captain. From time to time, he offers advice to police departments dealing with dark-web crime. There were no other deaths tied back to Besa Mafia customers, but Yura reportedly started other hit-man-for-hire scam sites—Crime Bay, Sicilian Hitmen, Cosa Nostra. It was almost like Yura was the devil watching from a distance, smirking as the seeds he planted germinated and grew into full-blown evil.
All photographs by Alec Soth/Magnum Photos
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