Hitman Hired to Kill Man’s Ex-Wife, Police Say

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OLATHE, Kan. -- A Gardner, Kansas, man faces a solicitation to commit first-degree murder charge in an alleged murder-for-hire scheme.

Rheuben C. Johnson III, 49, was charged on Thursday for allegedly trying to hire a hit-man to kill his ex-wife, with whom authorities say Johnson is involved in an on-going custody battle over their son.

"I feel very confident he would have made the attempt," said Sgt. Grant Allen with the Olathe Police Department. "It is very concerning with some of the information from the investigation we were able to obtain. We were lucky to have investigated it quickly because our priority is saving lives."

Police, acting on a tip from an undercover officer, arrested Johnson on Tuesday night around 7 p.m. in Leawood, Kan.  Allen said police did not notify the woman about the murder-for-hire plot until Johnson was arrested.

"That's obviously to protect the integrity of the investigation, to bring the best case possible for prosecution," he said.

Johnson has some past, unusual allegations against him on record, including allegations that he abused a pet monkey; he was also once ordered to remove a 200 pound cougar from his home.

Johnson is being held in the Johnson County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond.

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