Trout Run, Pa. – A preliminary hearing date of May 4 has been set for two teenagers who allegedly plotted a murder-for-hire scheme, according to Pennsylvania State Police at Montoursville. Both will face attempted criminal solicitation of first-degree murder charges through the office of District Magistrate Gary A. Whiteman.
Police said Dillian Mikel Weaver, 19, of Williamsport, and his girlfriend Angelina Grace Peluso, 16, of Trout Run, both plotted to hire someone to murder Peluso’s stepfather, 44-year-old Howard Blackburn, at his Cascade Township home.
The authorities were alerted to the plan on Thursday when an individual recruited to carry out the murder plan backed out and instead contacted authorities. Both teens later confessed to the murder plot, police said.
The two teens were angry after Blackburn caught them in bed together Thursday morning, according to the affidavit. Peluso later told Weaver that Blackburn had punched and slapped her after the incident.
Later that day, Peluso told Weaver via Snapchat that Blackburn had also sexually assaulted her, later admitting to police that was not true, according to the affidavit.
Weaver reportedly used Snapchat to attempt to recruit people he knew to kill Blackburn.
Weaver contacted a female friend via Snapchat to vent about his anger over Blackburn’s alleged abuse of Peluso. He told the friend that he wanted Blackburn dead and needed someone else to kill him, according to the affidavit. The woman, who has not been charged, told Weaver she knew someone who could kill Blackburn and provided that individual’s contact information.
Weaver then contacted the male individual and began outlining his plan to kill Blackburn when he arrived home from work. The informant provided police screenshots of the conversation:
“He gets off work at 5:30 so we’d have to be there before him and get him as soon as he gets out of his truck before he goes inside. We need to cover our faces and (expletive) like that bc they have cameras there. Ik how to avoid the cameras bc I snuck in before. But there’s no way of avoiding them out front. Unless we’d go inside and take the box that all the cameras lead to. We wouldn’t need much because our faces are covered.” Weaver went on to advise the informant not to park near the house due to the surveillance cameras.
“Just gotta take his body and dispose of him somewhere. So he’s never heard from or found. And it would all stay between us,” Weaver allegedly wrote via Snapchat.
The informant was offered $30 for gas money, according to the affidavit. The woman who attempted to help Weaver set the plot up also reportedly asked the informant to secure a firearm.
The informant allegedly told Weaver that he had a buddy who had access to a firearm. “He has access to a gun we can use, can be tossed. I’ll hit you up when I get the details,” the informant wrote Weaver via Snapchat.
The informant also gave police screenshots of a Snapchat conversation between Weaver and Peluso, which was outlined in the affidavit:
Weaver: “Baby I need you to tell me that it’s ok if this happens to him. Like you’re ok with him dying. I need confirmation. Msg me as soon as you can about this.”
Peluso’s reply: “Yes baby. I have zero affection for him. We’ve talked about it. I just don’t want to lose you is my concern that’s all.”
On Friday, Weaver talked on Snapchat again with the informant and told him that Peluso had mentioned that Blackburn may have a gun out if he feels something suspicious is going on at the home.
As Weaver went to outline plans, he told the informant, “I just need him gone and no questions asked yk? He’s been abusing my girl for 10+ years and her family. And I can’t do (expletive) alone because she doesn’t want to lose me yk. And I feel like you’d be able to help,” according to the affidavit.
Friday morning, the informant went with an undercover officer to Weaver’s home on High Street to pick him up. The undercover officer, who was wearing a recording device, posed as someone who would be willing to execute the murder. While riding in the vehicle of the undercover officer, Weaver said “he wanted ‘Howie’ shot and ‘out of the picture,’” according to the affidavit. He also said that Peluso wanted her stepfather dead and knew about the plan. Weaver instructed the undercover officer to get rid of the body and that he would contact him after he “took care of the body.” Weaver was then taken into custody.
When Peluso was interviewed later, she told police she was on board with the plan and admitted she said she wanted Blackburn dead, “but that ultimately she didn’t mean it,” according to the affidavit. She told police that “she just wanted Blackburn hurt.”
Weaver and Peluso were arraigned Friday night in front of on call District Magistrate Jerry C. Lepley on the homicide charges of solicitation of murder as well as conspiracy murder charges and criminal use of a communication facility. Peluso is being tried as an adult in this case. Both were remanded to Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $1,000,000 bail.