A North Vernon man was charged Thursday in what police said was a plot to pay another man $10,000 to kill his wife.
Daniel Freeman Rodgers, 45, of 124 W. Walnut St. was formally charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He was arrested at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 25 after a seven-hour investigation, according to a police report.
Rodgers made his initial appearance Thursday in Jennings Circuit Court, and attorneys Brad Kage of North Vernon and Jeremy Seal of Seymour were appointed as his attorneys. Judge Jon W. Webster ordered Rodgers to continue to be held on $300,000 bond.
According to the probable cause affidavit signed by North Vernon Detective Ivory Sandefur, Rodgers asked Barry Langtange on three occasions to kill his wife and make it look like an accident.
On Oct. 25, Rodgers told Langtange to “do it,” meaning to kill her, while Rodgers was at work that weekend so he would have an alibi, Sandefur reported.
He asked Langtange to make his wife die in an automobile wreck and to use a baseball bat after the wreck to make sure it was done.
Rodgers told Langtange his wife had been blackmailing him for an incident that occurred with her daughter, and that she was in poor health, so it would be like a mercy killing.
Sandefur said police found out about the plan when Langtange came to the police station Oct. 25 and reported Rodgers had approached him about killing his wife three weeks earlier.
Langtange said he and Rodgers worked together at a North Vernon factory about four years ago.
He said he later lost his job, and Rodgers, who runs a pest control business, contacted him and offered him work in late April or early May of this year.
Langtange said he had been working on and off with Rodgers since that time and had agreed to call or text Rodgers to see if he had any work available.
Rodgers asked Langtange to meet him at a store in the 2400 block of North State Road 3, which Langtange agreed to do while carrying an audio recorder.
The men walked through the store and purchased some items before getting into Rodgers’ vehicle and leaving.
Sandefur said he followed the vehicle, which went north on State Road 3 before turning east onto County Road 500N. He later had to stop to avoid being spotted and returned to the store to watch Langtange’s car, he said.
Langtange eventually returned, got into his car and drove to the police station, Sandefur said.
During an interview, Langtange said Rodgers drove him to Selmer State Forest, where they sat and talked.
Langtange said Rodgers wanted his wife killed that weekend and gave him $20 of the $40 he planned to give him so he would have gasoline to get the job done, Sandefur said.
Rodgers also said he could give Langtange a couple of hundred dollars a week until his wife’s life insurance paid off and then give him $500 a week until he paid him the full $10,000.
After talking with Langtange and listening to the audio, Sandefur said he reported the investigation to Jennings County Prosecutor Alan Marshall.
Sandefur said he had no concerns Langtange would actually harm Rodgers’ wife but didn’t know if Rodgers would take additional action to have his wife killed.
That led to a decision to arrest Rodgers at his home. Sandefur, Detective Brandy Blevins and North Vernon’s emergency response team made the arrest after obtaining a search warrant signed by Jennings Superior Court Judge Gary Smith.
The search warrant was for computers and insurance policies.
After his arrest, Rodgers declined to talk to investigators without an attorney but did thank police for not throwing him to the ground when he was arrested.
Evidence collected during the investigation includes the $20 bill Rodgers gave Langtange for gasoline, a Nokia cellphone, a Toshiba laptop computer, a 401(k) plan for Rodgers and a life insurance policy for his wife.
Besides Rodgers and Langtange, police also interviewed Rodgers’ wife and stepdaughter.
Rodgers’ wife told investigators the family recently had filed for bankruptcy and didn’t have much money.