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Posted: 04/20/11

HIT MAN SCHEME FOILED. Above, from left, Village of Armada Police Chief Howard Smith, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham and Michigan State Police Trooper F/Lt. Roderick Williams share information about a case involving four suspects who conspired to kill an Armada Township woman. Wickersham said arrests were made on April 11 after the suspects offered $8,000 to hire an undercover detective posing as a hit man to carry out the crime.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Five arraigned for plots
against Armada woman

Observer Staff Writer
      Suspects told undercover detective they wanted victim to suffer before deathFive suspects were arrested after two attempts were made to allegedly hire hit men to slay an Armada Township woman.
       Ferndale resident Mallorie Wilson-Strat, 24, and Ray Township resident Christina Sears, 25, were arraigned April 13 on charges of solicitation of murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree and pre-meditated homicide after attempting to hire a undercover detective from the Macomb County Sheriff's Office to kill the victim.
       The charges carry life sentences, with each woman held on a $250,000 bond. David Clark, a Detroit resident reportedly hired earlier to slay the woman but backed out at the last minute, is being held on a $1 million bond.
       The intended target was Jessica Sears, 30, who has a pending divorce case with her husband, Kevin. He was arrested but later released on April 13, said Sheriff Anthony Wickersham.
       "There is more information that will be needed," he said regarding the investigation of the husband.
       The sheriff's office was notified of the case by the Village of Armada Police Department about two weeks ago. Wickersham said the initial tip came from an anonymous source saying someone wanted Sears dead.
       Wilson-Strat, Kevin's girlfriend of seven months, and Kevin's sister looked into hiring a hit man, which is when a detective from the County of Macomb Enforcement Team (COMET) made contact with them posing as one.
       Wickersham said no legitimate motives have been provided by the suspects for their actions.
       "It appears they just wanted her out of the picture<there is a pending divorce," he said. "I think what they thought is it'd be easier just to get her out the picture by killing her."
       Wickersham said Christina made it clear to the undercover detective that they didn't want the victim to die quickly.
       "They mentioned that they'd like to see her suffer for a bit prior to her dying," he said.
       The women provided $500 up front, agreeing to pay $7,500 more once the job was done. The women were arrested moments after at a Warren motel on April 11.
       Also arrested was Bashar Mansour, 22, a Warren resident and boyfriend to Christina Sears.
       Wickersham said Mansour was at one of the three meetings, and told the detective he had been following the victim to gain knowledge of her habits.
       During one meeting, Wilson-Strat revealed that they had previously hired Clark, 30, as a hit man to kill Sears. He was paid $1,100 up front and was to receive $15,000 upon completion.
       In March, Clark broke into Sears' home while she and her three children slept, but at the last minute he didn't carry out his contract and left with her purse, said Wickersham. A report was filed with the Michigan State Police.
       "The real frightening and scary part of this whole thing is that there was that attempt at the home in Armada Township to go on in and kill the intended target," said Wickersham.
       All four suspects were arraigned at the 37th District Court in Warren. Mansour and Clark were charged with conspiracy to commit homicide, while the husband was not charged with anything.
       Wilson-Strat and Clark will also face charges of home invasion, which carries a 20-year sentence.
       Also arrested was Jorden Powell, 21, of Detroit. The sheriff's office reports he was present with Clark when he broke into Sears' residence. He was charged with first-degree home invasion, with his bond set at $500,000.
       Wickersham noted that hit man cases occasionally pop up in the county, but none have involved so many people.
       "It's not uncommon, but it's not something that happens all the time," he said.
       Wickersham said the ongoing investigation will look into any additional hit men that may have been contacted. The investigation will also examine the details surrounding the March incident.
       Along with the sheriff's office, the following police departments took part in the investigation: Chesterfield Township, Harper Woods, Roseville and St. Clair Shores.
       Village of Armada Police Chief Howard Smith lauded the departments for their assistance.
       "A small department like ours would not be able to answer the call that's needed for a case like this," said Smith.

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