Police: Nasty divorce led woman to arrange murder-for-hire plot

A Madison Twp. woman was in fear of losing her home and custody of her children when she arranged to have her estranged husband killed in a car crash near their home, police testified in court Friday.

MORE: Target of alleged murder-for-hire speaks out

Shelly Carter, 42, is charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder in the alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Two other people allegedly connected to the scheme — Casey Fryman, 32, and his wife Sarah Fryman, 21, of Middletown — are also charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated murder.

A plan was hatched for a hit man to crash into Christian Carter’s car during the early morning hours of Sept. 17 near the couple’s Browns Run Road home, according to Middletown police Detective Tim Meehan.

The “accident” was timed to coincide for when Christian Carter would be dropping off the couple’s children, and Shelly Carter instructed the hit man to “do it even if the kids were in the car,” Meehan said.

Shelly Carter allegedly offered to pay Donald Sandlin $1,000 — $500 up front and $500 after the job was completed — and give him an SUV as payment.

Instead, Sandlin told police about the alleged plot, Meehan said.

Police were conducting surveillance on Shelly Carter and the Frymans at the Browns Run Road home and at Carter’s dog grooming business on Vannest Avenue when they received an anonymous tip Sept. 22 that they were at the Madison Inn. Meehan said police, along with Butler County Sheriff’s deputies, went to the bar and arrested all three.

Also arrested at the bar was Shelly Carter’s boyfriend, Ryan Stark.

Stark was not involved in the murder-for-hire conspiracy but confirmed the alleged plot, according to Meehan.

Stark, 23, who has a previous felony conviction, is charged with possession of a firearm in a liquor establishment and for having weapons under disability. Police found a .22 caliber handgun with a loaded magazine on Stark when he was arrested.

On Friday, Middletown Municipal Court Judge Mark Wall continued the bond amounts of $750,000 for Carter, and $250,000 each for both Frymans. Stark’s bond was continued at $50,000.

After the hearing, Christian Carter’s father praised the work of Middletown detectives who investigated the case.

“They picked up the ball and did what you’d expect them to do,” T.J. Carter said. “They went above and beyond what they had to do.”

Sandlin, the alleged hit man, will likely not be charged because he is cooperating with police, a city spokeswoman previously told the Journal-News.

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