No Bail for Woman in Murder for Hire Plot; Glynn Magistrate Makes Ruling That She Will Be Held until Grand Jury Takes Case

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Byline: Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | A St. Simons Island woman charged with agreeing to pay an undercover officer $11,500 to kill her brother will remain in jail until a grand jury takes up her case, Glynn County Chief Magistrate Timothy Barton ordered Friday.

Karen Abely Latham, 43, appeared before Barton in a preliminary hearing on charges of criminal intent to commit murder and criminal solicitation of murder.

After Glynn County Police Capt. Tommy Tindale laid out the details of an investigation including Latham's dropping off $1,500 in travel expenses for the undercover officer she thought was a hit man, Barton bound her over for grand jury action and ordered her held without bail.

Tindale testified that the police department heard in October from Shannon Tanner, a friend of Latham's, that she was looking for someone to kill her brother, James Abely, a Washington, D.C., lawyer.

Tindale said that when she first asked Tanner, he had joked he could take him on a "South Georgia boat ride,'' in which two people go fishing and only one returns, Tindale said.

But when it became clear that Latham was serious, Tanner was concerned if he didn't tell police she would find someone to carry out the killing, Tindale testified.

A Lowndes County deputy sheriff acting as a hit man, met with Latham Nov. 7 at a Dunkin' Donuts on Altama Avenue in Brunswick. Latham and the undercover officer agreed on a price of $10,000 to be paid after the slaying and $1,500 in expenses paid in advance, Tindale testified.

The undercover officer gave her three or four opportunities to change her mind, but, "She was adamant."

"She wanted him killed,'' Tindale testified.

During their discussions, Latham spoke about ways to kill her brother.

"Mrs. Latham went into the fact that her brother jogs in the morning,'' so his death could be made to look like an accident, Tindale testified.

Also, if he were to be shot, she didn't want him shot in the head so that her parents, who are in their 80s, could still have an open casket, Tindale said.

On Nov. 12, after Latham had transferred $16,000 between her bank accounts, she received a call from the undercover officer while she was dining at Cracker Barrel on U.S. 341 north of Brunswick, Tindale testified.

The officer told her to drive the short distance to a Winn-Dixie and put the money in the glove box of silver Jeep Wrangler in the parking lot, Tindale said.

Latham drove to the Winn-Dixie, circled the parking lot a couple of times and then stopped at the Jeep, he said. …