WATERTOWN, N.Y. (PIX11) — An Upstate woman is accused of hiring a hitman to kill her grandson’s father in Florida.
Melisa Rae Schonfield, 57, of Brownsville, was willing to pay $11,000 to kill Ernesto Negillo, 36. She met with the hitman, who was actually an undercover detective, inside her vehicle at a Wal-Mart parking lot on Arsenal Street Friday morning, WWNYTV reported.
According to the detective, Schonfield suggested throwing the man’s body “to the alligators” in order to dispose it. She also went on to say her husband was aware of the planned murder.
Upon handing over $5,500 – half of the killing fee – to the disguised officer, Schonfield was taken into custody. The woman – who was under investigation for weeks after somebody tipped off police – was arraigned at Watertown City Court.
She was held on $250,000 cash bail and charged with second-degree conspiracy and second-degree criminal solicitation.
WWNYTV reports Schonfield was freed from Jefferson County jail Monday afternoon following a $500,000 bond. It is unclear who posted the bond.
In an exclusive interview with ABC News, the woman’s daughter, Alexis, 31, said she was shocked to hear of the alleged murder plot. She came to her mother’s defense and said “My mom is not a monster.”
It is unclear what the woman’s motive was, but the 31-year-old also told the station Negrillo has been verbally abusive to her. She also denied her father knew anything about the hitman.
Negrillo responded to the accusations in an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post Monday.
“I don’t know why she would want to kill me. I haven’t spoken to her in a long time,” he told the website.
The Florida man said his relationship with Alexis ended in November 2012 when their now 2-year-old son was only 4 months old. He stayed in Florida while Alexis took their son to New York.
Negrillo also said he did not have any recent issues with the Schonfield family. The man was not fighting for custody of the child as it was already settled.
“I have no idea why. I can’t believe she went this far,” he said about the murder plot.