Laura Ann Buckingham, a former Marine, faces 15 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder
Laura Ann Buckingham is known around the Louisville area as a famous baker, having even appeared on the cover of Southern Indiana Living last fall. But now she stands accused of cooking up something far more sinister.
Buckingham, 29, a former Marine, is charged with attempted first-degree murder for allegedly plotting to hire a hit man to kill her ex-boyfriend, Bradley Sutherland, who is also the father of her child, PEOPLE confirms.
Police and prosecutors in Roane County, Tennessee, outlined the charge in a statement.
“She acted with intent to complete a course of action that would constitute the offense of premeditated murder by hiring and paying another to kill Bradley Sutherland and thereby taking a substantial step toward the commission of that offense,” the statement said.
Buckingham has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $150,000 bond.
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The story of Buckingham’s alleged crime, and how she was caught, as described by the Louisville Courier-Journal, is the stuff of Hollywood movies.
Buckingham allegedly asked a new boyfriend, Joseph Chamblin, an ex-Marine sniper, if he could make Sutherland “go away.” When he realized she wasn’t joking, Chamblin began secretly tape-recording Buckingham, and he eventually went to the police.
(Chamblin was one of four Marines who were filmed urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in a notorious incident in Afghanistan in 2011. He pleaded guilty to military prosecutors and was demoted in rank and fined $500.)
A Tennessee Bureau of Investigations agent posed as a hit man in the Buckingham case, the Courier-Journal said, and she allegedly paid him a portion of the $30,000 he demanded for the job.
Police notified Sutherland of the plot and even had him stage his own death in a parking garage to make Buckingham believe her plan had succeeded, the paper said.
“It was traumatic,” Sutherland said, adding that screenwriters have already approached him about the story but that he is reserving rights to the story for the time being.
Buckingham and Sutherland had been sharing custody on their 3-year-old son. The boy is now living with his father. “I told him that Mommy’s new job is keeping her busy,” Sutherland said, “and he’ll be staying with Daddy for a while.”