A man from Riverside, California who recently appeared before a San Luis Obispo judge for his preliminary hearing, is set to go on trial for allegedly trying to hire a hitman from the dark web to kill his stepmother.
Beau Brigham, 32, is accused of soliciting the murder of his stepmom who lives in Central Coast, San Luis Obispo.
The case against Brigham came to the limelight as a result of a tip from Chris Monteiro, a cybercrime and online scams researcher.
Monteiro took his discoveries to the national press, to prove that the murder-for-hire sites were scams so that law enforcement could take action.
Based in London, Monteiro uncovered a backdoor on the hitman-for-hire darknet site Cosa Nostra, where he discovered an encrypted message requesting a hit on Brigham’s stepmother on the website.
The story attracted more attention after it was highlighted in a detailed investigation by 48 Hours, a popular true crime show on CBS.
According to Monteiro, a cybersecurity expert, Cosa Nostra or Besa Mafia are online platforms that claim to connect people with hitmen around the world.
He further reported that the Cosa Nostra site is operated by an individual known as Yura, and is out to con people.
Most of the hitman-for-hire sites request a victim’s personal and physical details, in order to dupe individuals into believing they are legitimate.
Furthermore, a down payment is asked in advance to facilitate the murder.
Speaking on the program about his discovery, Monteiro stated that the message gave physical details along with a photo of the stepmom, as well as her vehicle and social security number details.
The message also gave specific instructions on how the murder should be carried out, stating that the murder should appear as an accident to avoid attracting attention.
Facts That Led Police to Believe Brigham Is Their Suspect
Monteiro’s discovery was forwarded by the media to the San Luis Obispo police, who believe Brigham wrote the request, and when they contacted his stepmother, she stated the only person in mind who would want her dead is her stepson.
When police confronted Brigham with the allegations, he allegedly admitted to them that he ordered the hit.
Details from the Central Coast Cyber Forensic Laboratory in San Luis Obispo County claim that he used the Tor browser to remain anonymous while accessing the darknet platform Cosa Nostra.
According to a testimony by the forensic specialist, John Lehr, through examination done on Brigham’s mobile phones, they found saved websites related to hiring “Chechen hitmen” as well as two notes about an ill person who hires a hitman to get money for treatment.
Furthermore, the District Attorney’s Office investigator, Neal Clayton, claimed during his testimony that Brigham sent the site’s alleged operator, Yura, $3.50 to $5 worth of Bitcoin as a down payment.
But he made the mistake of purchasing the cryptos from a site that requires one to register with photo IDs, alternatively using a picture of his California driver’s license.
Police then used this to track and arrest him.
Family Feud Apparent Motive of Attempted Hit
During the preliminary hearing, police detectives in charge of the case claimed Brigham’s motive could be attributed to the hate he harboured against his stepmother.
Furthermore, Beau and his older brother Brandon Brigham would immediately benefit from a family trust account if the murder-for-hire attempt had come to fruition.
The 48 Hours investigation revealed that the relationship between Brigham and his stepmother grew strained after his father’s sudden death by a heart attack in 2011.
After his demise, they became estranged after she took over the bars and restaurants her late husband owned, which she later lost. The brothers took legal action against her and won.
Additionally, Beau Brigham held animosity toward his stepmother for not supporting him during a stage of health problems.
Brigham pleaded not guilty and during an interview, during which he claimed he had serious medical problems thus had no memory of going to the murder-for-hire site.
After the ruling, the judge issued a gag order on the proceedings, barring anyone connected to the cases as well as potential witnesses from discussing the case outside the courtroom.
Details on when the trial will begin are yet to be released.
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