A mother and son conspired to hire a hitman to kill the son's wife for financial gain, El Cajon police announced Wednesday.
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June Carol Pickard, 57, and Francis Richard Noble, 31, were arraigned Tuesday in El Cajon Superior Court, each on two felony charges. Pickard pleaded not guilty to attempted solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit a crime. Noble pleaded not guilty to solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit a crime.
Bail was set at $1 million for each defendant.
El Cajon police were tipped off on Jan. 6 to the alleged murder-for-hire plot by an acquaintance of Pickard's.
The 31-year-old victim, whose name was withheld, has been married to Noble for three years, and the couple has a history of domestic violence, Lt. Steve Shakowski said. They have no children.
"I am convinced were it not for the concerned citizen coming forward and talking with police, the victim would have eventually been killed," Shakowski told reporters. "Her days were numbered. Her days were certainly numbered."
10News learned a schoolmate acquaintance of Noble's notified police, and upon receiving information about the defendants' alleged plans, an undercover police officer posed as a hitman and met with Pickard in the parking lot of Parkway Plaza mall. During the meeting, Shakowski said Noble allegedly spoke of his mother's wish to have his wife killed.
Noble made an initial payment for the hit to the undercover officer, according to the lieutenant.
Last Thursday, police contacted the alleged victim after she left the El Cajon home she shares with both defendants.
She was brought to the El Cajon Police Department where officers told her about her husband and mother-in-law's alleged plans, authorities said.
She was shocked and had no idea about her husband and mother-in-law's plans, according to police. Police showed her portions of surveillance video.
According to court documents obtained by 10News, on January 6, Pickard made a monitored phone call to a witness agreeing that she and her son would pay $1,000 to have her daughter-in-law killed.
Two days later, Pickard met with the undercover officer who was posing as a hitman. Three days after that, Noble provided pictures and the license plate of his wife and a $100 deposit.
The documents also show the next day, the undercover officer met with both Pickard and Noble to confirm the job had been completed, showing them some of her personal belongings.
The defendants were then arrested at the same parking lot as their earlier meetings.
"They were serious, they were motivated," added Shakowski. "This was a unique investigation, not the kind of thing that happens every day."
On Richard Noble's Facebook page, he said he's a graduate of El Cajon Valley High School and once worked along with his mother at Viejas Casino.
According to a friend of Noble's, Noble met his wife while he was working at the casino several years ago.
The friend also told 10News that Noble was kind-hearted and that Noble and his wife had a rocky relationship.
"I have been here 27 years and this is the first case I can recall," said Shakowski.
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