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Florida Woman Sentenced To 15 Years For Trying To Arrange Estranged Husband's Murder-For-Hire

During her trial, evidence showed Gretchen Buselli attempted to hire a hitman to kill her estranged husband, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

By Caitlin Schunn
Wives Who Brutally Killed

A Florida woman was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for hiring a friend to kill her estranged husband during a child custody battle, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Florida.

Gretchen Buselli, 48, of Tallahassee was also sentenced to three years of supervised release after she gets out of prison.

During the trial, evidence showed that between approximately June 17, 2021 and Sept. 16, 2021, Buselli used the U.S. mail, a cell phone, texts and an encrypted mobile app to try and get a friend to kill her husband, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. This was an old high school friend with whom she was still in touch on social media, according to the criminal complaint reviewed by Oxygen.com in August.

According to the friend, Buselli claimed her estranged husband had been sexually abusing the couple’s then-5-year-old daughter. She asked her friend, who she knew had a prison record, to kill her husband for $40,000, according to the criminal complaint.

RELATED: University of Idaho Suspect Reportedly Sent Series Of Messages To Victim On Instagram Before Killings

Federal agents had the friend download the encrypted messaging app Signal, and call Buselli while they were listening on July 9, 2021. She repeated her husband was physically and sexually abusing their 5-year-old, that the judge didn’t care, and the system was corrupt—with the only solution, she allegedly said on the call, being to kill her husband, according to the complaint.

A police handout of Gretchen Buselli

Buselli had reported the alleged abuse to Florida’s Department of Children and Families, which decided the complaints were “unfounded.” No charges were brought against her husband by the time the criminal complaint against Buselli was filed, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting.

The friend, at the behest of federal agents, continued discussing plans for the murder, suggesting he would likely dump the victim's body in the ocean. Buselli "became very excited and told [her friend] what a great idea this would be, because then there would not be an immediate homicide investigation, and instead would start out as a missing persons case," the criminal complaint stated. That, she allegedly claimed, would allow her to obtain full custody of their daughter, sell her house — and thereby pay the hitman — and move to Oregon.

The friend then called Buselli on Aug. 21, 2021 and said that he was uncomfortable carrying out the crime—suggesting his friend "Paul,” who was an undercover FBI agent, could carry out the hit instead, according to the complaint.

Buselli continued discussions with the undercover agent, providing a description of her husband, his whereabouts and his routines, as well as negotiating a price for committing the murder, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Buselli and “Paul” ultimately agreed that he would murder her ex-husband during a week she had custody and then dispose of the body for an up-front payment of $5,000 and another $20,000 after she sold her house in Florida, the complaint said.The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Buselli dropped off the money at the amphitheater in Cascades Park, and agents also observed her throw out the clothing she had been wearing while dropping it off.

After being told by the undercover agent that her husband had been killed, Buselli was questioned by law enforcement and made multiple false statements denying her awareness of the plot and her desire to have her husband killed, authorities said.

“This sentence not only punishes the malevolence of the defendant but should serve as a significant deterrent to those inclined to incite violence,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Coody in the press release. “Despite calculation and concealment, the defendant’s murderous plot was averted due to the exceptional work of a citizen and our law enforcement partners. They are to be commended.”

The court ordered all the money Buselli paid to try and get her husband killed be forfeited.