James Carns’ plan to have a fellow Pierce County Jail inmate kill his wife and several church members unraveled when the inmate he chose told the wife about the offer, according to prosecutors.
Carns, 55, was in jail while awaiting trial for three counts of felony harassment and two counts of unlawful imprisonment.
The recent allegations added five charges of solicitation to commit first-degree murder Friday. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley raised his bail to $1 million.
Charging papers give this account:
Carns’ recent troubles started when two men brought him a letter about a scheduled church meeting, at which Carns was to be discussed.
This made him angry, and he threatened to make the men’s wives “husbandless” if the meeting was held. Carns wouldn’t let the men leave for 15 minutes, and later called one of them and said he’d rip his head off and didn’t care if he went to prison for life.
Carns later drove to one of the men’s house, looking for him, and the man’s wife told him to leave.
All that led the men from the church to report Carns’ behavior to Bonney Lake police, who put him in Pierce County Jail as he awaited trial.
Carns was upset, the church said, that he was being dismissed from the organization.
His wife spoke with police May 29, telling them that a Pierce County Jail inmate sent her a letter that said Carns tried to hire him for $30,000 to kill her and four other people at a local Kingdom Hall. The pair who delivered the church letter were on the list.
The inmate kept notes and maps of the plan, he wrote.
When a detective talked to that inmate, he said Carns had seemed angry at the jail, balling up his fists and saying names. Asked what was wrong, Carns told the fellow inmate he was in jail for domestic violence issues connected to his wife and people at his church. He asked the inmate how he could get rid of his wife and make his problems disappear.
The inmate told Carns he was probably just upset. Carns kept talking about wanting the hit to happen, offered the inmate money to kill his wife, and asked what that would cost.
Carns added people to the hit list and detailed a plan to make the deaths look like a robbery. He gave the inmate personal information about the would-be victims.
“On a Thursday night at 9:05 p.m. you can knock them off for 1 flat fee at the Kingdom Hall,” one of the notes said. “ ... Drive by where they live, sell Girl Scout cookies to them so you can see what they look like. Then go to church Thursday at 9:05 p.m.”
In a jail phone call a detective listened to, Carns told the person on the other end that he offered the fellow inmate money to move stuff off his property, and that the inmate “scammed me into writing a map.”
Should he post bail, among the conditions of Carns’ release is that he not go within 1,000 feet of Kingdom Hall or anyone on his alleged hit list.