An arranged murder-suicide?
That is what authorities in Missouri say happened last month when a 77-year-old terminally ill man shot his estranged son-in-law before shooting himself, PEOPLE confirms.
The killings, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, were allegedly orchestrated by 35-year-old Elizabeth “Liz” Kilgore, of Quincy. She has pleaded not guilty to a single count of first-degree murder.
She remains in custody without bail and does not have an attorney who could comment on her behalf.
A probable cause statement alleges that Elizabeth was embroiled in a battle with her husband, Lance Kilgore, over the custody of their toddler son.
Lance, 35, was shot to death on Sept. 7 by his father-in-law, Charles Sander, who then turned the gun on himself. But, according to the probable cause statement, authorities believe Elizabeth persuaded her dad to carry out the murder-suicide.
According to investigators, Charles was in declining health with an incurable illness (which has not been identified by police) and he spent the summer months on a “farewell tour,” meeting with family members to make amends.
The gun used in the murder-suicide belonged to Elizabeth, a former jail guard, who had reported it missing a week before.
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Elizabeth and Lance were in the process of finalizing their divorce when the shootings occurred outside a convenience store, moments before the couple was scheduled to exchange custody of their son, the probable cause statement shows.
Investigators allege in the statement that Elizabeth’s father and mother arrived outside the store around 7:20 o’clock that morning, soon after Lance did.
As Lance spoke with his mother-in-law, Charles exited his vehicle “and shot [him] several times before taking his own life,” according to the probable cause statement. (Elizabeth’s mother has not been charged.)
Surveillance video recorded the double killing.
Elizabeth and their child arrived at the scene minutes later. She was “running late,” she said, according to police.
A Crumbling Marriage, a Previous Plot?
The Kilgores split up more than a year ago, and Elizabeth then moved in with her mother, according to police.
As she and Lance moved toward divorce, Elizabeth told a friend that she had hung a picture of her husband on a tree and used it for target practice with her gun, according to the probable cause statement.ha
Investigators further allege in the probable cause statement that she had attempted to hire two inmates at the jail where she worked to kill Lance. But one of the inmates reported her to jail officials in late August and she was fired.
She denied the accusation.
Lance had expressed concerns about his safety to family and friends in the weeks before his death, according to police.
In early September not long before he was killed, a friend offered to help Elizabeth run away with their son, according to the probable cause statement. But she declined: She had it handled, she said.