Former Cornelius Postmaster David Willis was sentenced Friday to 171/2 years in prison for a murder-for-hire scheme to kill his ex-wife so she wouldn't share his retirement pension.
Federal authorities caught Willis on tape asking a fellow postal worker to arrange for the killing of his ex-wife, April Timmons.
The couple divorced in 2007. Willis, 57, never attempted to kill his former wife, but he talked about hiring a hit man and about killing Timmons himself by poisoning her with antifreeze.
Willis complained on tape that Timmons, who also worked for the Postal Service, would get $2,500 of his $5,000 monthly retirement pay.
Never miss a local story.
“I might as well have worked for Wal-Mart the last 30 years,” Willis said during a taped conversation. “I can't live on $2,500 a month. I'm gonna have to work 30 more years.”
Willis said he couldn't bear to work at the post office any longer.
“I already decided it's either her or me,” he said. “I can't stand 30 more years at the post office. I need to retire and enjoy life while I can.”
U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert praised the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for their “decisive action” and “thorough investigation.”
“Their extraordinary efforts thwarted a murder plot and saved an innocent life,” the prosecutor said.
Federal prosecutors said Willis approached another postal employee in 2007 for assistance in killing his former wife.
The postal worker contacted authorities about Willis' plan and agreed to act as a confidential informant in future contacts with Willis.
Willis, during a recorded meeting with the informant, talked about a plan to kill his former wife without raising any suspicion that she had been murdered.
Willis' plot, federal prosecutors said, involved poisoning his former wife with antifreeze. He said he learned about how to do it by watching a Court TV episode that documented a woman's use of antifreeze to murder two husbands.
“Antifreeze, the old formula, tastes as sweet as lemonade. And it will kill your a-- real quick,” he said during one taped conversation.
“You throw a little lemon juice in it, it's already orange colored and all you gotta do is drink it – and it doesn't take that much. Two days later, they croak.”