Man found guilty of plotting to kill wife in Stoddard Co. arson

Man found guilty of plotting to kill wife in Stoddard Co. arson

BLOOMFIELD, MO (KFVS) - A man accused of plotting to kill his wife has been found guilty on all counts.

According to Stoddard County State's Attorney Russ Oliver, Don Lafferty was found guilty of first degree attempted murder, first degree arson, armed criminal action and financial exploitation of the elderly.

Oliver said the case was tried over the four days.

He released the following statement:

"We are obviously very pleased with the jury's verdict.  Investigator Tim McCoy was tenacious and tireless in working this case as well as the entire investigative team.  There simply was a mountain of evidence that the Defendant simply could not overcome.  Every possible argument the Defendant could make logically lead to a dead end.  That is the result of a case that was put together effectively and completely.

Lafferty's sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 9.

Lafferty and two others were charged in connection with an arson fire near Bloomfield.

According to court documents, Lafferty gave a key to the home to Brandy Hicks. Brandy and Chris Hicks then allegedly went to the home, poured gasoline on the floor around the area where Mildred Lafferty was sleeping and allegedly ignited it with a lighter.

According to Mildred Lafferty, she was awakened by the heat of the fire and tried to extinguish it, but could not. She said she then called 911.

Firefighters arrived at the home at around 8:36 p.m.

Missouri State Fire Marshal Jason Dunn later arrived on scene and found the fire was arson due to the smell of gasoline in the home, and the presence of a partially burnt gas can and a large butane lighter on the floor near the point of origin.

Dunn said the floor burn pattern were similar to those of an ignitable liquid being poured on the floor.

In April 2014, Oliver requested that authorities reopen the cold case due to financial issued that may have been a motivating factor in the  suspected arson.

It was at that time, Lafferty was suspected of taking money from his mother.

During the reopened investigation, it was discovered Don Lafferty was in a relationship with Brandy Hicks. Court documents state he had called her cell phone numerous times and sent her text messages on the night of the fire.

In an interview with Brandy Hicks on May 9, 2014, she said she and her husband, Chris Hicks, met Don Lafferty when they began attending the church where Lafferty was a pastor.

According to court documents, Brandy Hicks said Don Lafferty and her husband made a deal where Lafferty would pay them depending on the "outcome of the fire."

When asked what that meant, Brandy Hicks allegedly said they would receive a certain amount to burn the house and another amount if Mildred Lafferty died in the fire.

Brandy Hicks said on the day before the fire, Jan. 11, 2013, she met Don Lafferty at the West City Park in Dexter, Mo. where he allegedly told her of the plan. While there, Don Lafferty allegedly gave Brandy Hicks the key to his house.

Hicks said she later gave the key to Chris Hicks.

According to court documents, Brandy Hicks said on the evening of the fire, she and Chris Hicks drove to the Lafferty home. She initially said that she dropped Chris off on the gravel road near the home, that Chris set the house on fire and that she then picked him up after the fire.

However, authorities say after more questioning, Brandy Hicks said she did not drop Chris Hicks off on the gravel road, but pulled the vehicle into the grass and they both got out.

According to court documents, she said they both went into the home and that she stood and watch as Chris Hicks poured gas on the floor. She said she could see Mildred Lafferty sleeping, and then said Chris Hicks lit the gas and they left the home.

Brandy Hicks said she drove to Bloomfield and dropped Chris off at her apartment. She said she then went to Dexter and met Don Lafferty at Pizza Hut.

According to court documents, Don Lafferty asked her, "Is it done?" and she replied, "It's done."

According to Brandy Hicks, she and Chris returned to the Lafferty home the night after the fire and broke in. She said she took a bottle of prescription medication.

On May 9, 2014, authorities talked to Chris Hicks.

According to court documents, Chris Hicks at first denied any knowledge of the fire. When told that Brandy Hicks said that they both started the fire, Chris Hicks said he wanted a lawyer and the interview ended.

Donald Lafferty allegedly told a fire investigator in an interview that he knew who started the fire, but would not give any names.

Lafferty was also found guilty of taking more than $85,000 from his mother and using it to pay personal bills between Dec. 12, 2013 and Jan. 17, 2014.

Lafferty was arrested on May 12, 2014 just before 11:30 p.m. in North Andover, Massachusetts.

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