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Kindergarten teacher, school nurse charged in murder-for-hire plot

A Franklin County kindergarten teacher has been charged with trying to have her ex-husband killed and a school nurse is accused of helping her.

Virginia State Police arrested Angela Nolen, 47, of Moneta and Cathy Warren Bennett, 37, of Rocky Mount on Wednesday. Nolen is charged with solicit to commit murder and Bennett is charged with conspiracy. Both work at Sontag Elementary School.

Bennett was granted $60,000 bond on Thursday in Franklin County General District Court. A bond hearing for Nolen, also scheduled for Thursday, was postponed.

Nolen is accused of paying $4,000 on Tuesday to an undercover state police agent who she believed was a hit man. She planned to pay another $4,000 after her ex-husband, 63-year-old Paul Strickler, was killed, state police Capt. George Austin told media outlets.

Austin said an unnamed person contacted the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries after Nolen and Bennett asked them about finding a hit man. The state police then got involved.

Details and a possible motive weren't released.

"I'm afraid for my life," Strickler told The Roanoke Times. "I still feel that way. If someone knocks on my door, I won't answer it. I'll dial 911."

Court records show Nolen and Strickler were granted a divorce in December 2012.

Strickler said that he had been trying to work out an arrangement with Nolen in which she would buy their house from him.

"If I was dead, she would not have to give me the money," Strickler told the Roanoke Times. "That scares the H-E-L-L out of me. I'm just so glad that the state police found out about this and uncovered it."

He said he met Nolen while both were working in the Franklin County school system. He formerly was a schools administrator in the central office.

Strickler said Nolen has full custody of their 7-year-old adopted daughter. He expects a custody hearing will be held soon.

"I'm extremely sad and I'm extremely worried," Strickler said. "It's not only a marriage. It's trust, it's children, it's all the things that you build over 17 years."

Franklin County Schools Superintendent Mark Church told WDBJ-TV (http://bit.ly/155zOFH) ) that no students were ever in any danger.

"These events, as we understand them, did not involve the schools or any students, and your children were as safe as we can reasonably make them," Church said.

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