Nelson P. Replogle was being held in the Blount County Jail in connection with the alleged plot.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A retired Knoxville man paid someone with Bitcoin online as part of a plot to murder his wife, federal authorities allege.
Nelson Replogle is being detained until trial on a murder-for-hire charge in U.S. District Court in Knoxville because he poses a threat to his unnamed spouse, who had not been harmed, court records show.
The FBI submitted a complaint April 21 after learning the day before of the alleged plot, records state.
Replogle next has a May 26 hearing date in federal court.
According to the FBI, members of the BBC in the United Kingdom alerted them of the alleged plot. They provided investigators with the name of Replogle’s wife, Ann, as the purported target.
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.
Further investigation, however, showed an “unknown individual” was given payment and was to kill Mrs. Replogle while she was driving with her pet to a veterinarian.
The FBI determined Replogle used Bitcoin, a virtual, electronic currency, to make the murder-for-hire payment, records state.
The Bitcoin wallets used in the transaction were Coinbase wallets, FBI headquarters authorities determined.
Replogle owned the Coinbase account, according to court records. The investigation showed there was a transaction between Replogle and “whomever is behind the murder for hire website,” the complaint states.
The website and would-be killer aren’t named in federal 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 last month, Replogle was found shredding documents, the government alleges.
In an order filed May 5, U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Poplin said she’d reviewed April 27 whether Replogle could be released pending trial. Family members said they could arrange housing for him away from his wife as prosecutors prepared their case.
But Poplin said she was concerned about the temporary nature of the housing plan, which included a motel for a time and a North Knoxville residence.
Records also note the government and Replogle’s lawyer talked about “the potential need for a mental health evaluation” for the defendant.
Poplin decided it was best to keep Replogle in jail. He’s being held at the Blount County Detention Center. He has no criminal history.