"48 Hours" disrupts alleged dark web hitmen in potential murder-for-hire plots
"Never in my journalistic career have I ever been involved in a murder investigation that led us to prevent other future potential killings," says correspondent Peter Van Sant
Known as the internet's evil twin, the dark web is a place where services offering hit men-for-hire are just a computer click away.
"48 Hours" explores the alarming world of murder-for-hire on the mysterious dark web and exposes an international criminal organization in a hunt for a self-described murder mastermind who uses the name Yura.
A six-month investigation spans the globe and leads "48 Hours" to information in the U.S. and beyond, about murder plots bought and paid for — but not yet carried out.
Who is Yura? Where is Yura? And can police intervene before someone else gets killed?
HIT TARGET: COTTAGE GROVE, MN
He calls himself Yura — a man who says he's behind an international murder empire named Besa Mafia. His real name is unknown.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: A hit man market place is like any other auction site. It brings customers and vendors together.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: Any hit man is welcome to sign up. But not all will be accepted.
His website invites would-be killers to send him hit man audition tapes.Because the video is anonymously posted online, it can't be verified.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: If one searches online for, I quote, "shot dead on street," one will find plenty of news about people being shot dead in the street by unknown people that shoot and leave the site. Those are our hit men. We will be waiting for you to come place your orders, and get rid of your problems.
Yura's ominous brand of high-tech terror extends from an unknown location to the smartphones, tablets and laptops of Middle America. In fact, "48 Hours" discovered Yura and his hit man-for-hire website while investigating the shooting death of Amy Allwine in the Minneapolis suburb of Cottage Grove, Minnesota.
Amy and her husband Stephen, both 43, seemed to live a quintessentially American life surrounded by friends, family and dogs — lots of them.
Amy ran a dog training business, while Stephen, a freelance IT expert, worked from their home. The college sweethearts married in 1996 and eventually adopted a young boy. Joseph is now 10.
Jane Sharpe: When she talked about her son, her face changed, from happy to happier, if that's possible.
Always thinking of others, Amy was the salt of the earth says her friend, Jane Sharpe.
Jane Sharpe: You could look in her eyes and just see good.
Faith was important, too, says Washington County Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser.
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: They were members of the United Church of God, as were all of their family members.
Stephen, a respected elder in the church, delivered sermons, counseled couples and even made videos with Amy demonstrating dance moves that complied with their conservative religious beliefs.
Jane Sharpe: She always was smiling, always smiling.
But sometime, somewhere, warmhearted Amy Allwine had made an enemy. In spring of 2016, long before "48 Hours" began its investigation, the FBI learned about a murder-for-hire site called Besa Mafia — people paying for other people to be killed — and began looking into it.
Poring over that treasure trove of dark web data, FBI agents were startled to learn dozens of requests for contract killings all over the world. But one in particular stood out. Someone using the chilling screen name Dogdaygod had ordered the assassination of a woman in Cottage Grove. Her name: Amy Allwine.
Capt. Randy McAlister | Cottage Grove Police: It was a case where the FBI had approached us about some concerns … regarding Amy and threats on the internet.
Peter Van Sant: Dogdaygod says, "I need this bitch dead. So please help me." There was an urgency.
Capt. Randy McAlister: Whoever Dogdaygod is — is sorta chomping at the bit for this to happen.
Eileen Ormsby: Dogdaygod said, "Amy has ruined my life… and stolen my business."
Eileen Ormsby, an Australian writer and CBS News consultant, learned about the Allwine case while researching a book about the dangers of the dark web.
Eileen Ormsby | Writer: So here we have hacking services. Stolen PayPal and credit cards. The dark web is the name that we give to the group of websites that can't be accessed using Google or any of your normal search engines. …You need to download special software and then it opens up this new world to you.
Eileen Ormsby: The technology behind it was actually developed by the U.S. military to hide military secrets. …So that sort of security obviously offers criminals great security as well.
The killing of Amy Allwine had been ordered on that hit man website Besa Mafia.
Eileen Ormsby: Yura is the owner of Besa Mafia, and subsequent websites that are the most profitable group of murder-for-hire sites that have ever existed.
Peter Van Sant: Ever existed?
Eileen Ormsby: Ever existed.
Ormsby's research led her to a like-minded colleague half a world away in London. Chris Monteiro, an IT specialist by day, white hat hacker by night, had also found Besa Mafia.
Chris Monteiro | White hat hacker: If you've passed the barrier of having paid money to get someone killed, you are mentally committed to doing that.
Monteiro didn't want "48 Hours" — or our footage — to reveal the location of his apartment.
Chris Monteiro: The people who would use this website are in many cases dangerous people.
Peter Van Sant: Because these are people who genuinely want to have someone else murdered.
Chris Monteiro: Yes. And in many cases are paying a significant amount of money for this.
Capt. Randy McAlister: Dogdaygod spent a lotta money to have Amy Allwine murdered.
Dogdaygod wanted her dead badly enough to pay Yura and the Besa Mafia site more than $12,000 in the digital currency bitcoin.
Even financial transactions are made anonymously on the dark web, says prosecutor Kreuser.
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: Bitcoin is untraceable. Because when you use bitcoin, it is done through what is called a wallet.
Peter Van Sant: And so once I get a bitcoin wallet, I can use that to pay for these services on the dark web?
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: That is correct.
Peter Van Sant: Even murder?
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: That's right.
With the hit against Amy bought and paid for, the FBI had decided to tell her and Stephen the frightening news.
Det. Terry Raymond | Cottage Grove Police: I believe it was May 31st of 2016.
Cottage Grove Detective Terry Raymond rode along with the FBI that day.
Det. Terry Raymond: Well, we brought her into an interview room.
Peter Van Sant: You had to ask the question, "Amy, do you know anyone in your life who would want you dead?"
Det. Terry Raymond: Right. And she didn't. …She was completely shocked and had no clue who it could possibly be.
Raymond says, at the time, the FBI never mentioned anything to him or the Allwines about Yura, Besa Mafia or Dogdaygod, but they told her there was a murder-for-hire plot against her on the dark web.
Det. Terry Raymond: It was the FBI's investigation. They have people that are familiar with the dark web. …Other than an extra patrol thing, it's not something that we would get involved in.
The authorities advised Amy and her husband to beef up their home security and then left.
Capt. Randy McAlister: They installed … a video surveillance system. And they purchased a pistol. …So they had taken steps.
Jamie Kreuser: And Amy Allwine, from that point on … lived with this knowledge that someone wanted her dead.
Then two months later, in July 2016, Amy got another death threat – this time sent directly to her.
Peter Van Sant [reading]: "Amy, I still blame you for my life falling apart… Here is what is going to happen. …I will come after everything else that you love."
Suddenly, the death threat hung over Amy's entire family, including her son, Joseph, then 8 years old.
Peter Van Sant [reading]: "Here is how you can save your family. Commit suicide. …So why not do it now and save them?"
Peter Van Sant: How seriously do you take this threat?
Capt. Randy McAlister: You have to investigate it as much as you can. The problem is, the email it was sent from … was anonymized, so it was untraceable.
But someone did want Amy Allwine dead. And soon enough she would be.
"I THINK MY WIFE SHOT HERSELF"
Sergeant Gwen Martin was just starting the night shift on Nov. 13, 2016, when a 911 call came in that made many on the Cottage Grove Police Department drop what they were doing.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: The caller was telling them that a female had shot herself.
911 CALL: I think my wife shot herself. There is blood all over.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: We get in the squad cars, and we start going to the scene.
As an 18-year veteran patrol cop and experienced paramedic, Martin says she was trained to be ready for anything. But nothing had prepared her for a message she received from dispatch about half way through her six-minute drive to the scene.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: I knew it was Amy.
Martin had grown fond of Amy Allwine after teaching her in an eight-week course for citizens to learn about law enforcement and emergency services. They'd last seen each other just two weeks earlier at graduation.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: My — my heart stopped. No. This isn't possible. Amy wasn't suicidal. Amy was happy. She had a husband. She had a son. What possibly could be goin' on?
As Martin rounded a final curve on the pitch-black country road, the taillights of first responders at the scene appeared in her windshield.
She says she entered the house still hoping that the female might be someone other than Amy.
Peter Van Sant: And what did you see?
Sgt. Gwen Martin: I saw Amy — lying on the floor … a pool of blood … A blank look on her face, obviously dead.
Amy Allwine was sprawled on the bedroom floor. Her eyes were open and her pants partially unzipped.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: And I started crying… My mind was spinning. I was whirling with disbelief, with shock.
Martin called Capt. Randy McAlister at his home. He rushed to the scene, passing the Allwine's son Joseph outside the house. The boy was being comforted by his father Stephen.
McAlister says he expected to find a suicide. But once in the house, his nose detected something strange. A pumpkin was roasting in the kitchen.
Peter Van Sant: So the notion would be that Amy Allwine put a pumpkin in the roaster, put it in the oven and then shot herself to death?
Capt. Randy McAlister: Yeah. Yeah. …So that was really odd.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: It doesn't look like a suicide.
Amy's gunshot wound was easy to miss at first: a single bullet hole inside her right ear. The Allwine's pistol was lying in the crook of her left arm, which was perplexing because Amy was right handed.
Capt. Randy McAlister: How did her hand end up under the bed and the gun end up on her left arm?
Then McAlister studied the bloody scene around Amy.
Capt. Randy McAlister: I noticed what we call satellite blood drips that were actually outside of the blood pool.
Jamie Kreuser: At some point, Amy's head was suspended above those drops.
Meaning, says Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser, that someone may have moved her body to this spot. And when the crime scene team did a luminol test looking for invisible bloodstains.
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: It lit up like a Christmas tree!
Bloody footprints too faint to be seen with the naked eye suddenly appeared everywhere.
Capt. Randy McAlister: They went back and forth to the mud room … But they also went into the bathroom on the main floor. And they went into — the son's bedroom.
There were no immediate suspects. Amy's son was just a kid, her husband Stephen had helped beef up security at the house after the FBI's warning and even bought a gun. He agreed to be questioned down at the police station:
STEPHEN ALLWINE TO POLICE: We're a normal family. There's nothing — nothing unique, nothing strange.
Capt. Randy McAlister : The thing that stood out for everybody, I think, is his demeanor.
Even though Stephen Allwine had made that 911 call, McAlister says Allwine was oddly calm for someone who had just found his wife shot to death. Even when he started crying at one point:
STEPHEN ALLWINE TO POLICE: [Sighs] If she did kill herself I didn't see anything comin'. I guess it was my fault [cries]. I guess l don't even know what to look for, I don't know what – [picks up a tissue]
Capt. Randy McAlister: It just seemed kinda fake to me.
Allwine told police he'd spent the morning working in his basement. He says when he came up for lunch, Amy wasn't feeling well.
Capt. Randy McAlister: She was coming down with something.
Allwine said he'd given their son to Amy's parents for the afternoon.
Capt. Randy McAlister: He left the house at roughly 5:30 p.m. to go pick his son up from the grandparents' house.
From there, Allwine says he took his son for dinner and then drove home.
Capt. Randy McAlister: The son apparently went right to the master bedroom to look for his mom and found her — on the floor.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: When people call 911, they're usually calling for help. …"I need help, I need an ambulance—I — I need the police." They're … in utter shock, despair … "I need help." And his first line wasn't asking for help. It was more of a statement.
STEPHEN ALLWINE TO 911: I think my wife shot herself. There is blood all over.
As the 911 call went on, Stephen Allwine's distraught young son, who discovered his mother's body, had questions:
JOSEPH ALLWINE: Why did she shoot herself?
STEPHEN ALLWINE: I don't know. I don't know bud, come here.
He then asked:
JOSEPH ALLWINE: Are you going to remarry?
STEPHEN ALLWINE: I don't know bud [chuckles].
JOSEPH ALLWINE: I'm just sad.
Peter Van Sant: Did you hear what I heard? What — what seemed like a chuckle?
Sgt. Gwen Martin: Yeah.
Peter Van Sant: There was nothing funny in that room, in that scene.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: No. Nothing funny at all.
Although Stephen Allwine's behavior seemed fishy in the 911 call and police interviews, McAlister said there was no apparent motive for him to kill his wife. And there was no definitive evidence linking him to the death scene.
Peter Van Sant: At that point, in your mind, is this a murder case?
Capt. Randy McAlister: I'm thinkin' it's a murder case, I just don't know who'd done it.
DOGDAYGOD: "I NEED HER GONE"
Peter Van Sant: Amy Allwine's husband Stephen called 911. I have it here.
The Allwine's young son can be heard crying on the call.
Jane Sharpe [refusing the offer to hear the call] :I don't even wanna hear her son! … That poor little boy!
Jane Sharpe is furious that authorities who knew about the dark web hit man threat against her friend Amy Allwine didn't do more to protect her.
Jane Sharpe: I think they failed her. They failed her.
Peter Van Sant: So when you arrived at the residence, there's not a sense of … The husband might be someone we should really keep our eye on?
Det. Terry Raymond: No, we didn't discuss any of that.
Terry Raymond and Randy McAlister from the Cottage Grove Police say this was the FBI's case. The Feds took the lead that day. Local police say they did everything they could for Amy: warned her to take security precautions and increased patrols in her area.
Capt. Randy McAlister: You can't park a car indefinitely outside of somebody's house, unless you have more … specific information.
"48 Hours" wanted to ask the FBI about the Allwine case, but the Bureau declined our request for an interview.
Since 2015, Chris Monteiro had been sounding the alarm about dark web murder-for-hire sites. He'd been writing online articles to argue that many hit man sites were phony.
In 2016, he says he noticed someone had edited one of his posts about Besa Mafia, insisting it was real.
Peter Van Sant: This is Yura doing this?
Chris Monteiro: Yes.
Peter Van Sant: So he's basically saying … this guy's not right. Don't listen to him.
Chris Monteiro: Yeah.
An online argument ensued. The sniping continued for months, until Monteiro says he received a chilling video from Yura in his inbox.
Chris Monteiro: And in this video is someone holding up a piece of paper with my domain name … And there's a big flame. And a car's being torched! …was very, very surreal … at this point I didn't know what to do.
Monteiro called a lawyer the next day. In the following weeks, as the threats from Yura continued, he sought help and support from his online community, including author Eileen Ormsby in Australia.
Peter Van Sant: Did you interpret this as a threat upon Chris's life?
Eileen Ormsby: Yes, we both did.
Monteiro also saw it as a declaration of war.
Chris Monteiro: I was gonna take this guy down.
That was easier said than done. Yura's sites were encrypted and he regularly changed their names.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: To customers, law enforcement can't easily close our site because the IP is hidden, posting is hidden.
Then Monteiro developed a special computer code to hack into the Besa Mafia site.
Peter Van Sant: So you were able to see all the communication that's gone between customers and Yura himself.
Chris Monteiro: Yes. Exactly.
Peter Van Sant: What are you discovering?
Chris Monteiro: I discovered there are lots of sick people out there…
Chris Monteiro: And in many cases, being very graphic about … how they want the person to suffer.
Chris Monteiro [reading miscellaneous kill orders]: "I would like this person to be shot and killed…" "I have a very strong motive to kill my daughter…." "Do you know where I can hire someone to rape another person?" "Do you poor acid on my target? If so how much does it cost?"
Peter Van Sant: Did you come across someone who used the handle Dogdaygod?
Chris Monteiro: Yes, I did.
The target in this kill order, was Amy Allwine. Chris Monteiro found scores of messages between Dogdaygod and Yura discussing how, where and when the hit would take place.
Peter Van Sant: What did Dogdaygod want done?
Chris Monteiro: The target killed … whilst they were on — a particularly given date…"
DOGDAYGOD WRITES: "I am looking to hire you for a hit."
YURA REPLIES: "We can plan the hit when you are traveling outside the city for a day or two. This makes everyone know you could not be the murderer."
DOGDAYGOD WRITES: "The target will be traveling out of town to Moline, Illinois. What is the price in bitcoin for a hit and ideally making it look like an accident?"
YURA RESPONDS: "Normal killing by gunshot is $5,000. …Killing to make it look like accident is $5,000 plus max 4,000."
Peter Van Sant: It's all organized. It's all ready to go. Yura is offering everything here except airline miles it seems for this hit.
Eileen Ormsby: Dogdaygod has a very intimate knowledge of Amy's whereabouts, her movements and what she's going to be doing at any one time.
And Ormsby says Dogdaygod's messages with Yura, which began about nine months before Amy Allwine died, makes clear that as time passed, Dogdaygod had grown impatient about having the hit carried out.
Dogdaygod writes in an email dated March 20, 2016: "I want her gone. I need her gone."
Chris Monteiro says he was so concerned about the hit man sites, he contacted the FBI.
Chris Monteiro: I … spoke to an agent there and explained the situation…
He admits he didn't get into specifics about any plot in particular – and says the conversation went nowhere. He eventually gave up trying.
Chris Monteiro: This would take over my life even more than it has.
But Monteiro's life was turned upside down in January 2017 when he learned about Amy Allwine's death.
Chris Monteiro: I was so upset when I found out… And this is exactly what I tried to stop. It's really been difficult.
Back in Minnesota, police had been busy investigating Amy's death since the day her body was discovered. They'd made an unusual find in the basement, where Stephen had an office.
Capt. Randy McAlister: He had a lot of very advanced electrical and computer equipment.
Peter Van Sant: I heard there was as many as 66 electronic devices down there.
Capt. Randy McAlister: You're right.
Peter Van Sant: Did it look like mission control?
Capt. Randy McAlister: Yeah.
It was a lot, even for an IT professional like Stephen Allwine. And investigators unearthed startling cyber evidence in his email.
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: Stephen Allwine had been going on a website called Ashley Madison. It is a website for married people seeking extramarital affairs.
Ashley Madison's client list was leaked in 2015, publicly shaming some of the most rich and powerful adulterers in America.
Peter Van Sant: How do you think she would've taken that news?
Jane Sharpe: She would've been crushed.
Kreuser says Stephen Allwine's position in the church would have been in jeopardy if he divorced Amy.
Jamie Kreuser: Stephen Allwine had … dated — at least three women — through different internet forums. Those relationships ranged from a date to a prolonged sexual relationship.
His texts with one of those women could never be heard in church:
STEVEN ALLWINE: Know what I am dreaming about tonight?
STEVEN ALLWINE: You in a nightie …? Or maybe out of nightie?
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: That goes to motive in that Stephen Allwine did not wanna be married anymore.
The incriminating evidence against Stephen Allwine was growing. They discovered Allwine had been shopping on the dark web for an anti-nausea drug called scopolamine.
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: Taking — a large amount of scopolamine would render you helpless essentially.
Had he pulled the trigger himself or hired a hit man from Yura's website? Yura claimed Amy's shooting was arranged on Besa Mafia in this video diary he sent "48 Hours":
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: The Besa Mafia hit man visited the Allwine residence and shot his wife with … her gun and then left the location driving in a hurry…
Either way, Amy's autopsy showed an enormous amount of scopolamine in her system.
Capt. Randy McAlister: Well, in– in high enough amounts, it can kill you.
In spite of the scopolamine, in spite of the messages to the hit man site, Randy McAlister was lacking absolute proof that Stephen Allwine was involved in Amy's death. Could someone else have used Allwine's computers?
Capt. Randy McAlister: I really didn't latch onto Stephen Allwine as the suspect until December 12th.
December 12, 2017 — that's the day McAlister got a call from another investigator who had just made another crucial discovery.
Capt. Randy McAlister: Stephen moves from being a … grieving spouse of Amy, to the suspect in her murder.
Jamie Kreuser: I've worked on many murders in my career. This one, far and wide, the most complex, trying case I have ever worked on as a prosecutor.
On Dec. 12, 2016, authorities in the Allwine investigation caught their biggest break of all.
Peter Van Sant: Is there a smoking gun in this case, in your opinion?
Jamie Kreuser: There is a smoking gun in this case.
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser says the smoking gun was a 34-character code in a message from Dogdaygod, paying for Amy's murder in bitcoin — that digital currency that people on the dark web often use to buy and sell anonymously. The problem for Stephen Allwine was that code was on his computer. Kreuser says it could not have been a coincidence.
Peter Van Sant: So in the end, who is Dogdaygod?
Jamie Kreuser: Dogdaygod is Stephen Allwine.
The man who swore to God that he would love, honor and cherish Amy Allwine is now suspected of sending her to an early grave.
Sgt. Gwen Martin: We know he tried to hire a hit man to kill her. We know he tried to poison her. …He tried to get her to kill herself with these emails. That didn't work.
Prosecutors say after waiting for nine months, Stephen Allwine was so frustrated that the hit hadn't happened, that he shot his wife to death himself, using that nausea drug to render her helpless and the gun he'd bought for their personal protection.
Stephen Allwine was arrested on Jan. 17, 2017, on murder charges. He hired defense attorney Kevin DeVore.
Peter Van Sant: Let's get right to it, did Stephen Allwine murder his wife Amy?
Kevin DeVore: No.
Peter Van Sant: If he didn't, who did?
Kevin DeVore: Well, there were threats that were being made directly to Amy Allwine on the internet.
DeVore claims authorities had tunnel vision from the start, focusing on Stephen Allwine and ignoring other possibilities.
Peter Van Sant: Now, investigators say, nice try with that. But Stephen wrote all those emails. It was Stephen who sought to hire a hit man.
Kevin DeVore: That's what they say … but they didn't provide us with any proof that he sent those emails.
Peter Van Sant: There is a 34 digit code, the same code that was found on Stephen Allwine's laptop and on his cell phone … how do you explain that?
Kevin DeVore: Well, that's — that was the best evidence the state had in their case. And –
Peter Van Sant: And the truth is you can't explain it.
Kevin DeVore: Can't explain it. But there is another possibility of how it got on there.
Incriminating evidence was uploaded to Stephen Allwine's computer from a device called "S. Allwine iphone." But DeVore will ask jurors to believe the phone wasn't Stephen's.
In any case, DeVore says there's evidence a woman wrote messages like this one:
ANONYMOUS EMAIL TO AMY ALLWINE:"I don't know how a fat bitch like you got to my husband…"
Kevin DeVore: There were other women involved in Amy's life– friends of hers & other colleagues that … had full access to her internet to her home.
And he says it was a woman after all – or at least someone claiming to be — who tried to get Amy to commit suicide just months before authorities found her dead.
Kevin DeVore: It appeared that it was another female that was angry with Amy for — allegedly having an affair with this woman's husband.
Police found no evidence Amy Allwine was having an affair with anyone.
Peter Van Sant: It sounds like you're making up an excuse for your client.
Kevin DeVore: Well, let me tell you, as a criminal defense attorney my job is … to defend my client is to show that he's not guilty.
Stephen Allwine's arrest rocked the United Church of God, where he had been held in such high esteem. Officials issued a statement expressing their "profound shock and sadness."
As Allwine's murder trial approached in January 2018, authorities were winding down their investigation. But "48 Hours" was launching one of its own. We wanted to learn more about the shadowy figure behind the Besa Mafia site.
Yura had by this time closed down Besa Mafia and opened a new hit man site called Cosa Nostra, another reference to the mob and organized crime. Again, these websites can't be verified.
"48 Hours" wanted to talk to Yura ourselves, so we wrote to him on the dark web.
Amazingly, he responded almost right away: "Hi, I am Yura" he wrote. "I got your earlier message…"
Even more amazingly, he agreed to an interview — with an important condition. He said it had to be in London.
Peter Van Sant [on camera]: "48 Hours" flew from New York London, rented a studio and even brought in a master of disguise to camouflage Yura's face. Now all we need is him.
Eileen Ormsby, who we'd brought to London from Australia, joined us as we waited.
Peter Van Sant: What do you know about Yura? Where does he live, do you think?
Eileen Ormsby: I don't know where Yura lives, but I suspect he's not too far away from us right now.
On our second day, we got a message on the dark web.
Peter Van Sant: What did he say?
Eileen Ormsby: I don't think he's coming.
Peter Van Sant [on camera]: Yura told us he was sure we were being followed by British intelligence. So we offered to meet him in a public place where he could surveil us and see that we were alone. We even offered to talk in a moving taxi making our way through London. But Yura was convinced that if he showed up, so too would the authorities.
Eileen Ormsby [reading Yura's email]: "I do have several millions to live a nice life and start several businesses. Why should I risk being arrested and end up in jail?"
Chris Monteiro says he knows just how risky contact with Yura can be. He experienced it firsthand in his own home.
Peter Van Sant: February 4th, 2017, you're here in your flat in London. What happens?
Chris Monteiro [in his apartment]: Well, I'm just in the living room having some soup and I hear some noises from the door. I think, "What's going on?" So I come out and I go here [to the front door] to listen.
He says he'd spent months monitoring Yura, when Yura cunningly turned the tables on him.
Chris Monteiro: Yura wasn't happy with me. He decided what he would do — he would try and confuse the matters of who ran the website.
Not long before, he'd discovered that Yura was trying to frame him, claiming Monteiro ran the hit man sites.
Chris Monteiro: And before I know it, there's a battering ram knocking down the door. There's armored police busting in. They push me up against the wall here and say, "Hands in the air." …"You're under arrest for — for incitement to murder." I'm like, "What?"
He says he was amazed when cops confiscated his computers and locked him up. British authorities dropped the charges and later refused "48Hours"' request for an interview about Chris Monteiro.
Peter Van Sant: What a nightmare.
Chris Monteiro: It wasn't fun. Do not recommend.
Peter Van Sant [on camera]: Knowing what Yura had done to Monteiro, we weren't surprised that he'd backed out of an interview with us during our four days in London. But we didn't walk away empty-handed. Yura did give "48 Hours" some information that took our investigation into a whole new direction.
The man who apparently cornered the market in contract killings, sent "48 Hours" a video diary.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: I am doing this video diary entry to give you visual statements about the site.
He insisted he actually wanted to save lives. To prove it, he began giving us the names of the murder targets from his sites.
Normally, as journalists, we report the news and do our best to get out of the way. But this was different. We found ourselves in the middle of an apparent live marketplace for murder – and there was only one thing we could do. We contacted authorities.
Peter Van Sant [on phone]: We have a tip on a murder for hire plot.
"48 Hours" associate producer [on phone]: …knows where the target works, knows where the target lives.
And after "48 Hours" called authorities, we began approaching targets ourselves.
MARKED FOR MURDER
Some days, Jane Sharpe mourns the loss of her friend, Amy Allwine, by blowing off steam at the gym. Prosecutors believe Amy's husband shot her in cold blood after his attempt to hire a hit man failed.
Peter Van Sant: If you had an opportunity to be alone in a room with Stephen Allwine, what would you like to say or do?
Jane Sharpe: I'm not sure that would be a good idea … I'd probably kickbox his ass. I mean, I would.
As prosecutors prepared to try Stephen Allwine, "48 Hours" began its investigation into the criminal mastermind known as Yura. Yura had built a dark web empire advertising assassinations for hire, as described in a video diary he sent us:
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: The hit man usually goes to the target address, such as home or workplace and waits for them inside a stolen or rental car…
Nothing about Yura, including his diary, can be verified. His website has been rebranded.
As reporters, our job is to cover the news. But in a shocking turn of events, Yura began sending "48 Hours" the names of targets — turning on his own customers. It defied logic. We turned that information over to authorities.
One unlikely target: Sydney Minor. She's a 22-year-old single mom living in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Sydney Minor: It's very traumatizing to know that I could've been that next person.
Clarksville police summoned Sydney to the station last April after "48 Hours" tipped authorities to the plot against her.
Sydney Minor: We sat in a little room and then he's like, "Someone's trying to murder you." …My instant reaction, I just start crying, and I was like "Why?"
Someone using the alias "Blackjack85" had messaged Yura's website in early February 2018 providing Sydney's name, home address and other details.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: You can access it to submit your orders to kill the people you hate…
Sydney is hearing this information for the first time:
Peter Van Sant [reading to Sydney]: "Target works at Woody's Restaurant on Madison Street." … "Will be moving in a week's time and harder to find, should be done as soon as possible."
Peter Van Sant: That means kill you.
Sydney Minor: Yeah.
Sydney was questioned by a detective.
Sydney Minor: And that's when he asked me, "Who do you think would wanna kill you?" And that's when I gave him the four names.
Sydney names her ex-husband and her mother's ex-fiancé. Both men were cleared right away.
Sydney Minor: And, then, that left Brandon and Alexis.
Brandon States and Alexis Shelton had gone to the same high school as Sydney. They'd gone on to marry and have a daughter.
Peter Van Sant: The detective must have asked you, "So why would you give me the name Brandon?" What did you tell him?
Sydney Minor: I told him that I was pregnant with his daughter.
Peter Van Sant: When are you due?
Sydney Minor: I'm due September 20th of 2018. …It is a girl.
Peter Van Sant: You excited?
Sydney Minor: Yes. I'm very excited.
Brandon and Sydney had lost touch after high school. During the next four years, Sydney got married, had a son and divorced. By September of 2017, she started dating again.
Sydney Minor: So I was actually on a dating site and he popped up … he ended up messaging me. He's like, "Hey, you look really familiar." …I was like, "you do too."
They started chatting.
Sydney Minor: He told me he was a father; that he had a daughter and he told me that he had recently gone through a divorce. … So I was like, well, I can kinda relate 'cause I was doing the same thing.
The pair began dating. Brandon was a newly minted Army Specialist, stationed at Ft. Stewart, Georgia. He made the exhausting eight-hour trip back and forth to Clarksville to see Sydney on some weekends.
Peter Van Sant: Did you imagine a future with Brandon?
Sydney Minor: Yeah. I was starting to.
But in January 2018, when Sydney told Brandon she was pregnant…
Sydney Minor: He was not happy. He wanted me to get an abortion. …He gave me $400.
She says he also gave her some disturbing news. Brandon and Alexis were not divorced.
Sydney Minor: He's married. And he wants to get back with his wife. …I was heartbroken. Finding out that the guy I care about is married is not fun.
Peter Van Sant: He'd lied to you. [Sydney nods to affirm]
Sydney didn't know it yet, but Brandon was about to allegedly start a new online relationship with a man named Yura.
Having decided against the abortion, Sydney says she sent back Brandon's $400 and demanded he sort out his personal life before an upcoming deployment in Korea.
Sydney Minor: I kept asking him, "Have you told Alexis yet?" And he said, "No. I need more time." I was like, "OK. So here's the ultimatum, either you tell her or I'm going to tell her."
After a few weeks of waiting, she sent Alexis a message on Facebook.
Sydney Minor: "I'm pregnant with his child. He told me he wasn't married …"
She says Alexis hinted that this wasn't the first time she had trouble with Brandon.
Sydney Minor: She's like, "Good luck in the future. If the kid is anything like the dad, you'll have your hands full."
Sydney told Brandon she'd go to military court if he refused to pay child support.
Sydney Minor [reading text messages]: He was like … "you're making the wrong choice here. So much for not fighting" … I said, "Oh well, I think I'm — I'm making the best choice here." And he said, "You'll see."
Peter Van Sant: "You'll see?"
Sydney Minor: [Nods to affirm]
Peter Van Sant: We'll see, like we'll see who has the last word.
Sydney Minor: Uh-huh [affirms]. Exactly.
Sydney didn't know Yura would soon agree to arrange a hit on her. And "48 Hours" was about to learn of even more murder targets.
In April, 2018, Sydney Minor began living life as a target in a murder-for-hire plot.
Sydney Minor: It's scary. You will never look at life the same again.
But just hours after notifying Sydney, Clarksville, Tenn., police informed the Army about "48 Hours"' tip. The next day, in Korea, Brandon States was charged with several military violations, including an attempt of premeditated murder.
Sydney Minor : The detective calls me and lets me know Brandon has been arrested. He confessed.
Sydney Minor: I start crying. I was streaming tears.
Peter Van Sant: You worry sometimes, is there still a hit man out there … that has not done the murder-for-hires yet?
Sydney Minor: Every day. Every day. …Brandon's in custody. But there's no person with a gun in custody.
Like Amy Allwine, Sydney had been warned ahead of time. For Amy, it was too little, too late. Sydney feared her ordeal wasn't over. She says she asked the detective if Brandon's wife, Alexis, was part of the plot.
Sydney Minor : He said …"we've taken all precautions. We don't believe she's a part of it."
A law enforcement source told "48 Hours," "there is no evidence at this time that Mrs. Alexis States was involved."
In London, white hat hacker Chris Monteiro had been monitoring Yura's websites as they rebranded and changed names.
Peter Van Sant: You're sure this is the Yura that you've been pursuing all this time?
Chris Monteiro: Oh, absolutely.
Monteiro told "48 Hours" that Blackjack85 seemed to grow impatient when the hit he'd paid for didn't happen. The messages are hard for Sydney to hear.
Peter Van Sant [reading message to Sydney]: Yura says to him, "…unfortunately, these basic hitmen sometimes fail as they are low quality for low price. If you could afford a difference of $5,000, I can assign an expert hitman…"
There's a pattern here similar to the Allwine case. Yura can't seem to get the job done, raising Monteiro's suspicions of whether Yura is really providing hit men. What's more, it struck him that Yura is always asking for more money.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: But the truth is that most hit man sites are real …
Peter Van Sant: This must all be overwhelming.
Sydney Minor: Yeah.
Peter Van Sant: And if this Yura fellow can be found, what would you like to see happen to him?
Sydney Minor: The same fate he's been puttin' on everyone else.
Peter Van Sant: The death penalty?
Sydney Minor: Yeah.
Yura was finished with Sydney, but not with "48 Hours." He tipped us to yet another plot. This time, the person who allegedly hired the hit man is a woman living near Chicago.
NEWS REPORT: Last week, police … received a tip about the murder for hire plot from the CBS News program "48 Hours."
NEWS REPORT: Tina Jones was allegedly in a wild love triangle, accused of trying to pay thousands in bitcoin to have her lover's wife murdered.
From the outside, Tina Jones, 31, a registed nurse, and her husband Toby seemed to lead a fairy-tale life — at least according to social media. But less than two years into her marriage, investigators believe Tina's eye began to wander, and settled on a colleague.
Justin Kmitch | The Daily Herald reporter: "We understand the allegation that she met — an anesthesiologist at the hospital, and that they had a relationship…
Justin Kmitch has been covering the story for The Daily Herald. Tina's alleged boyfriend was also married. Authorities believe Tina wanted his wife dead.
Justin Kmitch: The hit man was told to make it look like an accident — and that the husband was not to be harmed in any way in the commission of this crime.
Acting on "48 Hours"' tip, which originally came from Yura, authorities arrested Tina Jones on April 17 and charged her with six felonies including attempted murder.
Chris Monteiro says authorities hadn't heeded his warnings about Yura. When he saw they were listening to "48 Hours," he started passing us new target information from Yura's sites.
Wong Pei Ting covered the case for an online newspaper in Singapore called "Today." She says, if Vincent is convicted, the notoriously strict Singapore courts may throw the book at him.
Wong Pei Ting: He's being charged with something that — that could … get him hanged.
"48 Hours" has been working this story for several months now and a tinge of suspicion has crept into our minds. Chris Monterio has had access to Yura's database — he knows everything about Yura — and it's time we ask him an important question.
Peter Van Sant: With your breadth of knowledge about Yura, your backdoor access to what he does, people have wanted me to ask you this question: are you [Monterio laughs] Yura?
Chris Monterio: [laughs] I am not Yura.
So far, tips made by 48 Hourshave led to three arrests: Brandon States in the Tennessee case, Tina Jones in Illinois and Allen Vincent in Singapore.
Wong Pei Ting: I think it's amazing!
But the most shocking arrest was yet to come — in a case right out of Hollywood.
HIT TARGET: SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA
In Chris Monteiro's forays into the darkest corners of the dark web, he has seen illegal arms, drugs and murder-for-hire sites.
After the Tennessee and Illinois arrests last spring, he told "48 Hours" about another American targeted for murder on Yura's anonymous website.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: I keep my identity private, hide my face, my hands, everything that could help with recognition.
Chris Monterio: They've submitted a photo of a woman called Laurie.
"48 Hours" is not identifying the woman.
Chris Monterio: In San Luis Obispo, California. … the person is very very serious about having Laurie killed.
Seemingly so serious, "48 Hours" immediately contacted San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow:
Peter Van Sant: This is Peter Van Sant. I just got off Skype with a internet expert in London … He has some important information about … a murder-for-hire plot in your county.
D.A. Dan Dow: OK, certainly very interested in hearing what you have.
Peter Van Sant: The target is a woman by the name of Laurie. …The person says that Laurie is evil and wants this kill made. …What has been ordered is a hit that looks like an accident because the customer in this case feels that he or she'd become very quickly a suspect.
D.A. Dan Dow: We will definitely … make sure that she's as protected as possible.
D.A. Dan Dow: It's pretty unique to get a tip from the media.
Peter Van Sant: I wanna let you guys get on, do your business.
Dow's team starts its investigation right away.
D.A. Dan Dow: I have an email from Peter Van Sant … background information from the tip that he just gave us.
The first order of business, find Laurie and make sure she is safe.
Dow immediately alerts San Luis Obispo police, including the supervisor of detectives, Lt. John Bledsoe.
Lt. John Bledsoe: Our goal is to locate her. We don't know whether she's alive at this point.
As with the other targets on Yura's hit man sites, Laurie is described in detail: she is a blonde, middle-aged woman, who drives a silver Mercedes with a black convertible top.
D.A. Dan Dow: We have to consider that, that particular victim's life is in danger.
Lt. John Bledsoe: Actually, I'm getting a text right now from one of our detectives. It shows she does live in San Luis.
The next day, Detective Suzie Walsh leads colleagues to Laurie's home. But there's a problem.
Det. Suzie Walsh: We … did a search of her apartment and could not find her — which was alarming.
Peter Van Sant: You're worried … has somebody taken her somewhere? Somebody shot her, perhaps?
Det. Suzie Walsh: Right.
To find her, Detective Walsh develops a ruse to use with her son.
Det. Suzie Walsh: That someone had simply reported her missing and we needed to find her.
Laurie's son does find her.
Det. Suzie Walsh: And I told Laurie … no less dramatic than this, but, "I need you to come to the police department right away. I don't want you to make any stops." She was very alarmed. And she said, "I will go straight to you." And she did.
Detective Walsh brings Laurie into an interrogation room. Their conversation is recorded.
Laurie [to Det. Walsh]: This is so bizarre.
Det. Suzie Walsh [to Van Sant]: And I said, "Is there someone that would want you dead?" And that was just an absolute shock to her. …She cried. She got up. She paced.
Just minutes later, Laurie has an answer:
Laurie [to Det. Walsh]: Younger stepson. That's the only person that I know. …Beau. B-E-A-U Brigham.
Det. Suzie Walsh: That's when Beau Brigham came to light.
In addition to her son from a previous relationship, Laurie also has two stepsons, Brandon and Beau, from her 1999 marriage to Jeff Brigham, a successful restaurant and bar owner.
Det. Suzie Walsh: Laurie had co-raised Brandon and Beau since they were approximately 10 years old. So she had a very long standing, familial relationship with them.
Brandon eventually went into marketing. Beau took his shot at Hollywood stardom. A video he co-produced and starred in was seen all over the world:
Dream Music: Part 2 lyrics: "I never did it for the money. I did it cuz' I had a lot of time on my hands…"
Peter Van Sant: The music video that I saw is … compelling to watch. …Did you find it impressive?
Det. Suzie Walsh: It was impressive. …He had a company called BeauFlix, where he did videography and photography in San Francisco.
Beau Brigham was also into extreme sports, living life on the edge.
Their lives seemed picture perfect. Then, tragedy struck.
Det. Suzie Walsh: In 2011, Jeff Brigham dies unexpectedly from a massive heart attack. …And Laurie really, truly, didn't have any knowledge of … how to run the businesses. …Now that started a place of contention.
Eventually, Laurie lost one of the bars. Beau and Brandon successfully sued their stepmother in 2013, and won a significant judgment.
Det. Suzie Walsh: Laurie becomes in debt to them in excess of $1 million.
Peter Van Sant: And does she have the money to pay them?
Det. Suzie Walsh: No.
But she still had assets.
Peter Van Sant: If Laurie dies, who benefits?
Det. Suzie Walsh: Beau and Brandon.
Both stood to gain an inheritance, but police quickly eliminate Brandon Brigham as a suspect. Detective Anthony Pellouso says Beau became their focus. But to prove him guilty, they somehow have to prove he is the one who sent the kill order on his stepmother to Yura's hit man website.
Det. Anthony Pellouso [at a detective briefing]: We, I think, collectively had no clue what thedark web was when we initially got this case.
And just like in the Allwine case, the digital currency bitcoin is critical to proving a crime was committed.
Peter Van Sant: This is a message that was sent to … Yura. "I have money. I would not put in an order if I wasn't serious. I'm trying to get these damn bitcoins in."
Investigators discovered Beau made a tiny down payment for the hit on Laurie, sending Yura less than $5.
Peter Van Sant: Obviously, $5 is not enough to pay for murder.
Det. Anthony Pellouso: Correct, however, it is enough to show that he has had intentions to continue with this thing. …he wanted to make sure that this hit man that's on the dark web actually got the $5 before he gave him the full $10,000 that was required.
Then, detectives discover something about the bitcoin used to pay for the hit in this case. It had been bought on a website where users had to register with a photo ID.
Det. Anthony Pellouso: In this case, Beau Brigham uploaded a picture of his California driver's license.
Peter Van Sant: We call that a smoking gun, do we not??"
Det. Anthony Pellouso: So, yes.
Two months after the San Luis Obispo police got their tip from Chris Monteiro and "48 Hours," cops finally have Laurie's suspected tormentor in their sights.
Det. Anthony Pellouso: We needed to find out where Beau was.
FOLLOWING THE DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
Creative, handsome and charismatic, Beau Brigham had it all. The music video he co-produced and appears in has more than two million views online. Brigham now has new people desperately wanting to see him, to find him — people with a badge who consider this talented artist a danger to society.
Det. Suzie Walsh: He had a clear intent to have Laurie murdered.
Once Laurie is located and safely in hiding, San Luis Obispo, Calif., detectives Suzie Walsh and Anthony Pellouso focus on finding her stepson.
Det. Anthony Pellouso: We found that his phone was pinging down … in Palm Desert. …That's when we made the decision … to actually go down.
Palm Desert is near the wealthy playground of Palm Springs, Calif. Investigators learn Brigham's biological mother Alexis lives there. She is a former Hollywood actress who had a bit role in the 1997 courtroom drama, "The Rainmaker."
But when police get to her last known address, nobody's there.
Peter Van Sant: Do you literally just start workin' the streets back and forth like a grid?
Det. Anthony Pellouso: So, that's the intention.
Det. Suzie Walsh: That was the plan.
Det. Anthony Pellouso: That was the plan … Beau drives a Mercedes Sprinter van. …it's pretty easy to spot.
After several hours of driving around, the detectives find the van at a Starbucks parking lot. Beau Brigham's mother Alexis drives away. The detectives follow her to a house and approach her in the driveway.
Det. Anthony Pellouso: The look on her face was, "Oh, my gosh, what is this?" … She allowed us to go inside the house.
They're surprised to find Beau Brigham in bed. He complained he was suffering from many illnesses, including cancer.
Det. Anthony Pellouso: He would try to divert from the actual conversation to how sick he is. "I'm dying. I'll be dead tomorrow. I can barely breathe. You know, I'll die in two days."
In 2015, Beau set up a GoFund Me page where he raised more than $40,000 to allegedly pay for medical treatment. Detectives say they didn't see proof of any official diagnosis.
Det. Anthony Pellouso: From what we talked to him and Alexis, he hasn't been diagnosed with anything.
Peter Van Sant: He has not.
Peter Van Sant: Could he be acting?
Det. Suzie Walsh: Yes.
Pellouso then confronts Beau with the dark web kill order telling Yura, "Look I need this f—–g person dead."
Det. Anthony Pellouso: He finally said, "You're right. Ok. I did it. I sent those"
But detectives want more than just an admission.
John Lehr | Computer forensics specialist: There needs to be evidence to support that.
They seize computers and an iPhone from the house.
At the Central Coast Cyber Forensics Laboratory in San Luis Obispo, Lehr, a computer forensics specialist, will be looking for the evidence. For "48 Hours," it is now a waiting game.
Peter Van Sant: Have you ever had a case like this, a dark web case?
D.A. Dan Dow: No. This is really an emerging technology. And I think we are really trying to play catch up in terms of law enforcement.
Two days pass. Then, a whisper.
John Lehr: I got something here. … This is Beau's iPhone. …And one of the first applications that it lists here is something called Tor Browser Pro.
Tor is a browser that can access the dark web.
Peter Van Sant: And so this is evidence?
John Lehr: Oh, absolutely.
D.A. Dan Dow: We made the decision … to charge Beau Brigham with … solicitation of murder.
At 9 a.m. on August 9, in Palm Desert,San Luis Obispo police arrive to the arrest site.
Peter Van Sant [outside of arrest site]: And they are heading for Beau's residence. Just knocked on the door. Beau Brigham's wake up call and in they go.
Peter Van Sant [on camera]: This began months ago when "48 Hours" got a tip from Chris Monteiro in London about a murder-for-hire plot in San Luis Obispo.
Alexis Brigham: Could you stop?
Peter Van Sant: Beau is now coming out…
Beau Brigham is handcuffed.
Peter Van Sant: We know that you wanted your stepmother murdered but we don't know why. Why did you do it?
Beau Brigham: I don't … I'm deathly ill. I'm sorry. I should be on a ventilator. I'm about to pass away. I'm dying of ALS.
Peter Van Sant: Do you understand, Beau, the terror that you have caused?
Alexis Brigham [yelling]: Do you understand my son is very sick!
Cop: We'll get you checked out man.
Peter Van Sant: You also hired a hit man to take someone else's life.
Beau Brigham: No I did not. I'm brain dead. I'm in very serious situation.
The whole scene is too much for Beau's biological mother Alexis, who admits she knew about Beau hiring a hit man on the dark web.
Alexis Brigham [to Peter Van Sant]: …he never ever wants anything to happen to her at all, he was just angry.
Alexis Brigham: And then I was thinking what do we do, do we contact the police, do we you know contact Laurie?
Peter Van Sant: Did you do that? Did you contact Laurie?
Alexis Brigham: No, I was overwhelmed. I didn't know what to do.
About a month after Beau's kill order, Alexis tried convincing him to ask Yura for a refund.
Alexis Brigham: I told him get it out, so they know you are not wanting anything done.
Beau is taken to a nearby hospital where doctors examine him.
Neil Clayton | Senior investigator for San Luis Obispo D.A.'s Office: They asked him acute symptoms, what are you dealing with today and when he couldn't name any basically, they ran his vitals and discharged him.
Now Beau Brigham is headed for county jail. Six weeks later, "48 Hours" obtained a letter from his defense team. Beau Brigham's doctor states "Mr. Brigham is extremely ill," but he never mentions cancer or ALS.
And just five days ago, Beau Brigham agreed to an interview with "48 Hours" in jail.
Peter Van Sant: Why did you seek to hire a hit man on the dark web to kill your stepmother?
Beau Brigham: I didn't, I'm actually terminally ill.
Peter Van Sant: The investigators believe you are faking this.
Beau Brigham: That's f—–g outrageous. They are insane.
Beau's anger with his stepmother stems from his belief that she hasn't supported him during his health problems.
Beau Brigham: She left her own son to f—–g die for four years. Who does that?
Peter Van Sant: So does she deserve a death sentence for that?
Beau Brigham: Absolutely, not.
Peter Van Sant: On April 19th, 2018, Beau, you wrote, "Look, I need this –"
Beau Brigham: OK. That is — that is–
Peter Van Sant: — f—–g person dead." You knew exactly what you were doing.
Beau Brigham: OK. I don't remember any of this, by the way.
Peter Van Sant: You gave specifics about your stepmother. "Look for a silver Mercedes with a black, convertible top." You gave specific instructions. "Do not go through with the job unless it can be done as an extreme, clear accident, because it will be very easily traceable."
Beau Brigham: You know, there is only one way — to get anyone's f—–g attention. And to do something stupid on a f—–g site, was the only way. I've been emailing Laurie to come f—-n' see me for four years now.
Peter Van Sant: So you admit you went on the site.
Beau Brigham: I can't remember doin' it. I can't remember.
Again and again, Beau told us he didn't remember anything. Despite Beau's memory issues, despite that he admitted to both the police and his own mother that he did this, Beau's attorney plans to take this case to court.
Alexis Brigham: No one would do something like this, no one, especially my son, if he was of sound mind.
Ilan Funke-Bilu | Beau Bingham's attorney: Mr. Van Sant, the people's case is in a lot of trouble. Be patient. Come to court.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: We will be waiting for you to come place your orders.
Chris Monteiro in London says Beau Brigham's arrest assures him that his work has made a difference.
Chris Monteiro: I wasn't sure … what I was doing really mattered. Now, I can see that it's so important that this information … is acted on.
Monteiro hopes the authorities will also find and arrest Yura, who he says is concealing something explosive.
A BIG CON?
Chris Monteiro says, through all the years investigating Yura, though all the murder plots and all the lives threatened — including his own –he and Eileen Ormsby reached an explosive conclusion: that Yura's dark web murder-for-hire operation is all a big scam.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: They are claiming that all hit man sites are fake.
Eileen Ormsby: Nobody is being killed.
Peter Van Sant: What?
Eileen Ormsby:Nobody is being killed.
Chris Monteiro: It's a scam site. You know, it's designed to take people's money.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: Always pay with bitcoin through escrow.
Turns out, Yura is a con man, and not some hit man commander. According to our investigation, he never arranged for a single actual hit.
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: We have hundred of people who love to kill for money.
But Yura still insists his websites are real:
YURA'S VIDEO DIARY: The hit men don't get paid until the job is done.
Either way, the most dangerous thing about him may be his customers — some so driven to kill that if Yura doesn't get the job done, they might do it themselves … like prosecutors allege about Steven Allwine. Just ask Amy's friend, Jane Sharpe.
Jane Sharpe: Cottage Grove lost an awesome citizen.
As Stephen Allwine's trial begins, the State argues he paid Yura to have Amy murdered. But when Yura didn't deliver, Allwine drugged her and shot her to death himself. Prosecutor Jaime Kreuser says he wanted out of his marriage, but divorce was discouraged in his fundamentalist church.
Prosecutor Jamie Kreuser: Marriage was considered a covenant … And that covenant was not to be broken…
Defense attorney Kevin DeVore countered that authorities never looked beyond Stephen Allwine and that there were other people who may have wanted Amy dead. He says those people could have left clues at the crime scene, but first responders bungled the investigation.
Kevin DeVore | Defense attorney: They had no fingerprints, no DNA … no eyewitnesses … they had no confessions, they had very little, you know, traditional evidence.
After an eight-day trial, where Allwine never took the stand, the jury took just six hours before convicting him of first-degree murder. Stephen Allwine was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Jamie Kreuser: When it was read, "Guilty," he just kind of fell. He put his hands in his face. And he began to cry.
Peter Van Sant: He finally shows emotion.
Jamie Kreuser: Finally.
The death of Amy Allwine is hard for Chris Monteiro too, but for different reasons.
Chris Monteiro: It was totally preventable from a law enforcement institution point of view.
After six months, about 30,000 miles and four arrests, "48 Hours"' dark web murder-for-hire investigation is nearing a close.
In San Luis Obispo, Beau Brigham last month pleaded not guilty in the murder plot against his stepmother Laurie.
Beau Brigham: I don't even remember actually doing it. And it's not something I wanted. Laurie knows I love her. I mean, it's a really f—-d up situation to be honest.
In Singapore, Allen Vincent awaits his day in court. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
In the Tennessee case, Brandon States pleaded not guilty in the plot to kill Sydney Minor. He faces a court-martial in January. Just 13 days ago, Sydney gave birth to their baby, a daughter named Saylor.
In the Illinois case, Tina Jones has pleaded not guilty, too. She made bail and awaits her next court date at her parents' house in Georgia.
Peter Van Sant: Today as we sit here, after all the trauma that you've been through … no one's touched Yura. He's still operating.
Chris Monteiro: Yup.
Chris Monteiro says Yura knows there will always be people who believe his sites are authentic, people who expect him to deliver death when they click for a killer. So he remains in business, somewhere out there … on the dark web.
Yura is still generating new customers
One inquiry, just last week, was trying to secure a hit man in NYC