Woman acquitted by reason of insanity in murder plot

Woman acquitted by reason of insanity in murder plot

TUSCOLA — A Teutopolis woman who tried to hire a man to kill her ex-boyfriend has been acquitted of that crime.

Douglas County Judge Frank Lincoln on Wednesday found Jennifer Inman, 31, not guilty by reason of insanity of solicitation of murder for hire in connection with her attempt last summer to have Louis Thursh, 51, of Champaign, killed.

Douglas County State's Attorney Kevin Nolan said Inman will return to McFarland Mental Health Center in Springfield, where she will be evaluated to see what kind of, if any, further psychiatric services she needs. Lincoln set another hearing for June 4.

Inman came to the attention of authorities last summer when she contacted a Tuscola man she knew and asked him to kill Thursh, whom she believed had harmed her daughter. Inman and Thursh, who were not married, have a son in common.

Nolan and Inman's attorney, Douglas County Public Defender Jim Lee, presented the following facts for Lincoln to consider in arriving at his verdict:

Nolan said on Aug. 6, Inman offered to pay the man $10,000 to murder Thursh. After hearing her offer, the man contacted the Douglas County sheriff's office, which enlisted the help of Illinois State Police investigators.

Wired with a court-approved overhearing device, the man met Inman on Aug. 7 outside a restaurant near the outlet mall in Tuscola. Police were watching, Nolan said.

"She shows up with a backpack with an envelope with $5,000 cash, a knife, a skullcap, gel soles, glue, latex gloves, a digital camera, a prepaid phone, maps to the man's home, a diagram of the interior of the house, and a printout from the Champaign County sheriff's website with his booking photo," Nolan said.

Thursh had been charged in December 2012 with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, but that charge was dismissed on July 23, 2013, about two weeks before Inman contacted the would-be hit man.

Nolan said that Inman explained to the man that the gel soles, glue and latex gloves were to make sure he didn't leave trace evidence. She advised him to glue the gel soles to the bottom of his shoes so he wouldn't leave footwear impressions and to wear gloves so as not to leave latent fingerprints.

She gave him $5,000 and told him to take a photo of the dead Thursh and show it to her to prove the killing. He would then receive the $5,000 balance.

Nolan said the purported hit man asked her repeatedly if she was sure she wanted that done.

"She says, 'Yes. Kill him,'" Nolan said.

After hearing that, police converged and arrested Inman that afternoon. She was interviewed and admitted that she sought to have Thursh killed but went on to explain to the investigators that she was also trying to set up the hit man, who she claimed was responsible for the unsolved murder of a Champaign County woman.

"She claimed to be setting him up by contracting the murder of her ex-boyfriend to take care of two dangerous people at once," Nolan said.

Charleston psychiatrist Dr. Terry Killian examined Inman following her arrest and concluded that she suffers from "complex delusional disorder."

"She didn't know what she was doing was wrong. She thought she was some sort of super detective and doing an elaborate ruse," Nolan said.

To be found not guilty by reason of insanity, the trier of fact has to believe the accused cannot appreciate the criminality of the act nor can the person conform her conduct to the requirements of the law.

Inman was found unfit to stand trial in October and was sent to McFarland for treatment until February, when counselors found she had attained fitness. Fitness to stand trial means the defendant can understand the legal proceedings against her and cooperate with her attorney.

She was then sent back to the Douglas County Jail, where she remained until Wednesday's hearing.

Nolan said Inman had previous hospitalizations within the past five years for suicide attempts.

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Ellen wrote on April 30, 2014 at 5:04 pm

This woman had the presence of mind to plot his murder, and supply all the "materials" he would need to avoid being caught, ie gel soles glued to his shoes and gloves as not to leave "latent" prints, and they have found her not guilty by reason of insanity? She seemed to be thinking pretty clearly for a little while anyway. Maybe, just maybe she is a VERY good actress and the psychiatrist is a captive audience...hmmmm