A New Orleans woman is facing murder-for-hire charges after she inadvertently tried to book a hitman to take out a love rival on a website that is linked to the FBI.
Zandra Ellis, 33, was taken into custody by the feds this week in the parking lot of a Waffle House in Louisiana after discussing the hit with an undercover agent, according to the criminal complaint in the case.
Ellis made contact with Rent-A-Hitman.com on June 30 using a fake name, Jasmine D. Brown, the documents state.
In her inquiry, Ellis said that she wanted a woman identified only as B.H. dead. Ellis said: ‘I would like her dead since she is trying to kill me.’
The operator of the website, Robert Innes, said that he contacted Ellis 24 hours later to see if she wanted to go through with the hit. Ellis responded within a minute to say she did.
Innes, a graduate of the Napa Valley police academy, started the website in 2005 as an internet security company.
Rent-a-Hitman was founded by Robert Innes in 2005 and was originally meant to be an internet security company
The fake customer testimonials on Rent-a-Hitman.com were not enough to warn Ellis away
Ellis met with an undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman with the name ‘Ace’ at this Waffle House
The Rent-a-Hitman homepage includes a disclaimer promising that potential clients’ information is protected under the fictional Hitman Information Privacy and Protection Act of 1964.
Documents in Ellis’ case say that the website is linked to the FBI’s Internet Criminal Complaint Center.
When Innes did a background check on Ellis and discovered her real name, he challenged her why she used a false name.
Ellis said: ‘I didn’t want my real name out just in case this isn’t real or if it comes back to me or so I wouldn’t go to jail for wanting something like this done. I just didn’t want it to fall back on me.’
Innes reported Ellis to the FBI National Threat Operations Center on July 3. Two days later an undercover agent going by the moniker Ace contacted Ellis.
According to the documents, there was a brief haggle between Ellis and Ace via text messages over the price for the hit. Eventually, they settle on a $1,000 fee with Ellis coughing up $100 up front.
Innes reported Ellis to the FBI National Threat Operations Center on July 3. Two days later an undercover agent going by the moniker Ace contacted Ellis
Documents in Ellis’ case say that the website is linked to the FBI’s Internet Criminal Complaint Center
From there, Ellis said that she would pay the hitman $250 in installments until the debt was paid off.
When the pair met up in a Waffle House, Ellis brought her child in a stroller.
During the meet up, Ellis explained that she wanted BH dead because she believed that BH was trying to kill her and her unborn child.
Ellis explained that she and BH had children with the same man. He was not named in the complaint.
The pair also agreed that a code word would be used to confirm that the kill had taken place.
When Ace asked Ellis is she had a weapon to protect herself with, ‘[She] glanced at her backpack and told the [undercover agent], ‘When you see me with this I’m always strapped,’ When Ellis exited Waffle House she was arrested and found to be in possession of a Ruger .308 pistol containing live rounds.’
Ellis is charged with the use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. She faces 10 years in prison if found guilty.
Speaking to the Daily Beast about Ellis’ arrest, Robert Innes said: ‘When a life is in jeopardy, I want [the case] to get into capable hands. Fortunately, a life was saved in this process.’
Innes also told the website: ‘I get requests every single day. Despite the attention in the news media, podcasts, online videos, people still see this as a place where they can attempt to hire a hitman. It’s mind-boggling. I just don’t get it.’
Following Ellis’ arrest, Robert Innes tweeted: ‘It happened again, this time in New Orleans. Over 150 lives saved!’
Robert Innes, pictured here, said of Ellis’ arrest: ‘When a life is in jeopardy, I want [the case] to get into capable hands. Fortunately, a life was saved in this process’
When asked in a separate interview with the Washington Post about why so many people contact the site, Innes said: ‘I don’t get it. People are just stupid
Innes’ career was covered in an October 2020 Rolling Stone feature in which he told the magazine that he was a repo man who operated the website on the side.
Innes, who goes by the moniker Guido Fanelli, said that his website has been used at least 12 times to trap murder-for-hire suspects. Although on his Twitter page, Innes said that his website has saved the lives of 150 people.
The Rent-a-Hitman website brags of having 17,985 ‘US based field operatives.’ That just happens to be the number of law enforcement agencies in the United States.
A customer testimonial from ‘Phil M. Florida’ says: ‘Guido and his public relations crew at were able to resolve a five year dispute in a matter of days. Highly recommended!’
‘Laura S. Arizona’ writes: ‘Caught my husband cheating with the babysitter and our relationship was terminated after a free public relations consultation. I’m single again and looking to mingle.’
While ‘Fernando Kansas’ said: ‘My business schedule is too busy to get my hands dirty with Human Resources issues, so I consulted with and they handled my disgruntled employee issue promptly while I was out of town on vacation.’
In the Rolling Stone interview, Innes said that the first serious inquiry he got came around 2010 when a woman from the United Kingdom named Helen said that she wanted members of her family killed because she had been left out of an inheritance.
Helen was living in Canada at the time. Innes said that he contact authorities, who contacted the relevant police who in turn performed a welfare check on the suspect.
In turned out that Helen was wanted in the UK on a number of outstanding warrants. She was extradited shortly after making contact with Innes.
When asked in a separate interview with the Washington Post about why so many people contact the site, Innes said: ‘I don’t get it. People are just stupid.’