(KMSP) - It’s not often law enforcement learns about a murder before it happens.
In May, the FBI learned someone on the internet was trying to kill Amy Allwine of Cottage Grove, Minnesota. By November, she was dead, and in January her husband, Stephen, was charged with her murder.
“Something led him down that different path and a whole aspect of his personality that people didn't know,” said Cottage Grove Police Detective Randy McAlister.
To the outside world, Stephen and Amy Allwine were the picture of marital bliss. They were married for nearly 20 years and had an adopted son.
Stephen is an information technology worker for an insurance company, and a Church Elder and lecturer with the United Church of God.
Amy was passionate about her dog training business.
“Amy was the most motivating and most positive person,” said Jenifer Waters, one of Allwine’s students. “She had nothing but good things to say about anybody.”
On November 13, 2016, police were called to the Allwine’s Cottage Grove home. Initially, it appeared to be a suicide, but police noticed some of the blood in the bedroom had been cleaned up. It appeared the crime scene had been staged to look like a suicide.
Stephen, who worked at home, said he left the home to pick up his son from his in-laws, filled up his car with gas, and went to get something to eat.
Detectives from Cottage Grove Police remembered something else about the Allwines - a tip from the FBI six months earlier.
The FBI told the Allwines it had “received information that a murder-for-hire inquiry had been located on the Dark Web with Amy Allwine as the intended target,” according to a police report.
“I think it's clear now the FBI did a lot of investigation they didn't tell us about,” said Detective McAlister.
The web site was called Besa Mafia, which claimed to be part of the Albanian Mafia and offered to provide anonymous contract killings.
Last May, Besa Mafia was hacked, and their client emails were posted for all to see, including the FBI.
Agents discovered an email from a customer whose handle was “Dogdaygod,” who wanted to have an Amy Allwine in Minnesota murdered. She “tore my family apart by sleeping with my husband, and is stealing clients from my business,” Dogdaygod wrote in an email. The user also added that she wanted it to “look like an accident.”
“Dogdaygod” had detailed information on Amy Allwine and appeared to be someone close to her.
According to murder charges, Stephen Allwine was really “Dogdaygod,” and paid Besa Mafia $13,000 in untraceable bitcoin.
But come to find out, Besa Mafia was an elaborate hoax.
“We have zero information at this point that any of the hits ordered on the web site were carried out,” said Detective McAlister. “There’s pretty good evidence that it was just a scam to scam people out of bitcoin.”
Go to the Besa Mafia site today, and you get a recording of the song, “So Long, Farewell,” from The Sound of Music, and a brief statement:
“BESA MAFIA HAS CLOSED FOR BUSINESS.”
“NO ONE WAS EVER BEATEN UP OR KILLED.”
After conducting forensic work on Stephen Allwine’s computer and cell phone, they found data directly connecting the device to specific bitcoin transactions.
Police also said they uncovered evidence Stephen Allwine was having an affair with a woman he met on Ashley Madison, a site focusing on adulterous married people.
The FBI declined to comment for this story and would not elaborate on whether Stephen Allwine was a suspect in the initial murder-for-hire case.
Allwine’s attorney, Kevin Devore, wouldn’t speculate on what the FBI knew, or when it knew it.
“I haven't seen their notes on it, but I know they're the ones who discovered it,” Devore said.