A western Arkansas photographer is accused of plotting to kill his child rape accuser and her family by trying to hire a hitman or sending them to Mexico so that “they never return,” authorities said.
John Edward Kelly, 50, of Rudy was arrested Wednesday following a monthslong law enforcement investigation into the photographer. He is charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, according to an affidavit filed this week in Crawford County.
Kelly was previously arrested on multiple sexual assault charges of a child last January and has been out on a $50,000 bond ahead of a circuit court trial.
Authorities allege that Kelly gave money, a motorcycle and promised a Ford Mustang to a person for killing his accuser and three of her family members “if things at trial were not going his way,” the affidavit said.
He reportedly talked about killing the family himself and later about bringing them to Mexico and arranging “it so that they would never return,” the affidavit states.
Authorities said they recorded Kelly during phone calls, including a conversation in which he allegedly arranged for two men to drive to Arkansas and kill four people while he was eating in public.
Kelly is the former owner of a Van Buren photography business that had contracts with dozens of local schools at the time he ran it, according to previous reports.
Jail records show Kelly was booked into the Crawford County jail early Wednesday morning and remained there Thursday afternoon with bond not yet set.
It wasn’t immediately known if he had an attorney to comment on the charges.