CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio - The FBI has arrested a Cleveland Heights woman they say tried to hire a hit man to kill anyone wearing fur.
Meredith Marie Lowell, 27, was arrested Tuesday. The self-proclaimed animal rights activist was charged with one count of solicitation to commit murder.
The FBI said Lowell communicated with undercover agents over the Internet on multiple occasions to try to get one to carry out the murder of "any individual that was wearing a product with fur on it."
An affidavit filed by federal prosecutors said FBI agents were first tipped off Nov. 4, 2011, to a message on Facebook by someone named Anne Lowery, who agents later learned was the same person as Lowell.
This is what was posted on Facebook, according to the filing:
"I would like to create an online community on facebook which would allow me to find someone who is willing to kill someone who is wearing fur toward the end of October 2011 or early November 2011 or possibly in January 2012 or February 2012 at the latest. The person willing to do this job would hopefully live in northeast Ohio, somewhere in Ohio, or be able to commute to Ohio and should be against people who wear fur products. I am willing to pay this person up to $830-$850 which is far more than I was originally willing to pay. Groups such as the Animal Rights Militia (also known as Animal Defense Militia) that are willing to kill people who wear fur are welcome to join this page. I welcome members of the Animal Liberation Front, the Animal Rights Militia, and similar groups that are militant to join and anyone else who believe that people who wear fur should be killed."
The FBI then tracked Lowell to the Cleveland Heights Library, after noticing she made several posts on her wall about the library. Agents set up surveillance, spotted her there and then followed her to her family's house on Coventry Road.
[ WEB EXTRA: Read the full affidavit here: http://on.wews.com/xIQ6Fm ]
An undercover agent posing as a hit man then sent Lowell a private Facebook message, offering to help her. They then took their communication to email.
In an email to the undercover agent on Nov. 15, 2011, Lowell allegedly gave the agent a description of the type of person she wanted killed.
"Since you know why it is wrong for people to wear fur products, I assume you know why I am willing to pay someone like you to kill a person who is wearing fur," the affidavit said Lowell wrote in an email. "Here is the description of what the person should be who is wearing fur who should be killed –
"1) color – any ethnicity, and any race
2) age – preferably 14 years old or older but should be at least 12 years old, hopefully a teenager or older, should not be a child
3) boy girl woman or man
4) height – at least 4 feet or taller
5) weight – any
"Should not be anyone I currently know and definitely should not be anyone my family knows."
Later in the same email, Lowell allegedly gave the undercover agent details about how she wanted this person killed, and that the hit man was not to wear anything that looks even remotely like fur.
"I want the person to be dead in less than 2 minutes (under 2 minutes or 1 minute or less would be better.)," investigators said she wrote. She then gave an address to the place on Coventry Road where the hit was to happen.
Other emails sent at later dates and detailed in the affidavit indicated that Lowell did not have enough money to pay the hit man, and she offered up gold jewelry with a small amount of cash for payment.
She also allegedly told the undercover agent that she was upset with the new Cleveland Aquarium and how it was "wrong for animals to be taken against their will and put into their equivilent (sic) of a bathtub." She said she sent an email to the aquarium last summer, but never received a reply back.
The aquarium is currently searching six data computer storage devices to see if an email was sent from her.
The affidavit said Lowell also wanted to be at the site where the murder takes place.
"She has also indicated that she has done research, and has ‘papers' she plans on carrying with her during the murder to distribute after the homicide," the filing stated.
The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force worked with the Cleveland Heights Police Department on the case.
Lowell will appear in court for a hearing Tuesday at 2 p.m.