BOSTON – A Beverly man tried to hire a hit man to kill his family, including his 7-year-old daughter, even requesting that the girl be shot in the chest and not the head so she could have an open casket at her funeral, authorities say.
John Orlowski, 49, had a brief appearance in U.S. District Court on Monday on the murder-for-hire charge and was ordered held without bail pending a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday.
"Thankfully the plot was uncovered by law enforcement, and three innocent victims avoided a horrible tragedy," U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said.
Orlowski met the man he wanted to kill his wife, daughter and mother-in-law in county jail earlier this year after he'd been arrested a second time for violating a restraining order she'd taken out against him, according to court documents.
He allegedly approached the man again after they were both released, and gave him a diagram of his estranged wife's house indicating the location of bedrooms and where he could find a pistol.
Orlowski initially offered $500 to plant drugs on his wife, saying if she were arrested he'd get their house in a divorce, the man told police. But he later increased the offer to $2,000 to kill the two women and the child, according to court documents.
The would-be hit man was troubled by the plot, especially the prospect of killing a child, authorities said, so he told his mother, and she called the FBI. The man was not identified but court documents referred to him as a self-professed member of the Crips gang with a lengthy criminal record.
Working with the FBI, the man met with Orlowski on Friday and taped a conversation in which Orlowski specified how many bullets he wanted in each victim — one in the chest for his daughter and two each in the head for his wife and mother-in-law, according to authorities.
During the recorded conversation, the man repeatedly expressed concern that Orlowski might regret the killing of his daughter. But Orlowski assured the man that he would have no such regret, saying at one point, "It's got more to do with my wife than anything," according to the affidavit.
After the man again told Orlowski he might have second thoughts about having his daughter killed, Orlowski replied, "It's not going to happen. I've been through too much. She (presumably his wife) did it to me," according to the affidavit.
In court Monday, Orlowski told the judge he is being treated for depression, but said he had not taken his medication for three weeks. His lawyer, James Roche, refused to comment when asked if Orlowski's depression would be used in his defense. Roche said Orlowski intends to plead not guilty.
"Of course, he's upset," Roche said.
Orlowski and his wife were going through a divorce, and she had taken out a restraining order against him earlier this year, according to court documents. In January, Orlowski was arrested at his wife's home and charged with violating the restraining order, domestic assault and battery and unlawful storage of firearms. Police seized 121 guns owned by Orlowski. Orlowski was arrested a second time a month later at his wife's home, and charged again with violating the restraining order and unlawful possession of a machine gun.
Roche said there was no violence involved in the domestic charges, even though Orlowski was charged with assault and battery.
"I think the two of them were tussling over a purse," he said.
If convicted on the murder-for-hire charges, Orlowski faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, to be followed by three years of probation and a $250,000 fine.