KINGSTON (WATE) – A Roane County woman was arrested Wednesday on charges she tried to hire someone to kill her ex-boyfriend. Laura Ann Buckingham, 29, is charged with criminal attempt to commit first degree murder.
“If she had gone through with it, then essentially, I would have been living next to a murderer,” Jim Bartosch, a neighbor, said.
The Roane County Sheriff’s Office and 9th District Attorney General’s office says she and her ex-boyfriend Bradley Sutherland, who lives in Indiana, have joint custody of their three-year-old son.
Sutherland told WHAS-TV the two had a civil relationship and had just gone to lunch this past Sunday when Buckingham was picking up their child.
Since moving to Tennessee, Buckingham has been driving to Louisville, Kentucky, every Sunday to exchange custody of her son. Sutherland said Buckingham had mentioned the drive had become a financial burden, according to WHAS-TV.
“It’s really all a shock. Today on the way home, it hit me, what she’d done, and I had to stop on the side of the road to collect myself,” Bradley Sutherland, Buckingham’s ex-boyfriend, said.
Deputies say she feared she would lose custody of her son and thought the best thing to do was to make Sutherland disappear.
“The issue does not frighten me. It just concerns me that violence is so close,” Belinda Jenkins, another neighbor, said.
The sheriff’s office says Buckingham’s then-boyfriend Joe Chamblin, an ex-sniper best known for urinating on dead Taliban fighters, contacted officials in February after she said she wanted her ex-boyfriend “gone.” Law enforcement then launched an undercover operation to make contact with her. Buckingham then allegedly paid an undercover officer $300 as a down payment to kill Sutherland.
Sutherland, who works in Louisville, was notified of Buckingham’s arrest at his place of work. He is now cooperating with law enforcement.
“When it comes down to it, it’s all about my son. That’s all that really matters,” Sutherland said.
Buckingham is being held on $150,000 and her son is with his father in Indiana. An order of protection has been issued against Buckingham for both Chamblin and Sutherland.
Chamblin said he and Buckingham were no longer dating.