Jeri Dianna Tarter (pictured in 2018), 69, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill her ex-son-in-law to prevent him from getting custody of her granddaughter
An Arkansas woman is facing charges for allegedly trying to hire a hit man who was working undercover for the FBI to kill her former son-in-law to prevent him from getting custody of her granddaughter over her daughter.
On Monday, Jeri Dianna Tarter, 69, of Jacksonville, made her initial appearance by video conference before US Magistrate Judge Beth Deere.
Tarter was arrested on Friday after Deere issued an arrest warrant on Thursday, court records show.
A criminal complaint had been filed that same day.
A complaint is used in federal court to hold defendants in the custody of the US Marshals Service until a grand jury can review their case.
Tarter is being charged with use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder for hire, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.
It was not immediately known if Tarter had an attorney to speak on her behalf.
Deere unsealed the complaint, which is supported by FBI agent Daniel Turner’s six-page affidavit.
It states that Tarter met with a man on October 7 at a Chili’s restaurant in Little Rock.
She knew the man from 15 years earlier, when he worked as a security guard at a bar where her daughter, Heather Tarter, 44, worked.
Agent Turner wrote that the man, who is identified only as a ‘reporting person,’ said Tarter claimed that her daughter’s ex-husband sold drugs and had abused Tarter’s daughter and granddaughter.
Tarter told the man that the custody battle between her daughter, Heather, and her ex-husband over parental rights to their daughter, Indiana Tarter, was so fierce that they were arrested two years ago for abducting the child after an Arkansas court awarded her to her father.
She asked the man to ‘take care of him’ or ‘find somebody who can.’
The man told Tarter he might know someone who could look into the drug allegation.
A few days later, he called the Little Rock police.
In 2018, Jeri Tarter and her daughter, Heather Tarter (left), were arrested in Arizona for allegedly kidnapping Heather’s daughter, Indiana (right), after an Arkansas court awarded custody of the girl to her father
On October 14, during a monitored phone conversation between Tarter and the man, agent Turner listened as the man told Tarter that he was out of state but knew someone in Memphis who could possibly help.
Rob Bell, another agent, posed as the Memphis man and met Tarter on Oct. 20 at a Walmart in Jacksonville.
‘Tarter implied that she wanted her former son-in-law to suffer an accident,’ the affidavit states.
It says Bell attempted to clarify what she meant, and Tarter ‘clearly implied that… Bell should kill’ him and make it look like an accident.
Tarter indicated that her daughter wasn’t aware of her plan, according to the affidavit.
It also stated that Tarter told the agent that she ‘would do it herself if she were younger or 80 pounds lighter.’
The affidavit states that Tarter offered to pay Bell $1,500, but he said it would cost $2,000 and asked for $500 up front.
Tarter paid Bell and later texted him her former son-in-law’s address, agent Turner said.
In June 2018, Jeri and Heather Tarter were found along with her infant daughter, Indiana Tarter, in Arizona, after the girl was reportedly abducted by her mother and grandmother.
Jeri and Heather Tarter were arrested and charged by officials in Navajo County, Arizona, with custodial interference.
Authorities say a court in Arkansas’ Lonoke County granted custody of Indiana Tarter to her biological father on May 1, 2018.