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Elementary School Teacher Killed In Months-Long Murder-For-Hire Plot, Investigators Say
Police believe Julie Jean hired Zakkee Alhakim to fatally shoot Rachel King on April 11. William Hayes, King's boyfriend, had allegedly broken off an affair with Jean earlier this year.
The man accused of fatally shooting a Pennsylvania elementary school teacher in her vehicle, while her 11-year-old son was in the car, was hired by another woman who was once intimately involved with the slain woman's boyfriend, authorities say.
The alleged shooter, 33-year-old Zakkee Alhakim, and the woman he's accused of conspiring with, 34-year-old Julie Jean, were both arrested in connection with the death of Rachel King, according to an April 26 statement from the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.
Both face charges of first-degree murder, third-degree murder and conspiracy, and have been denied bail.
King was shot dead on April 11 at around 7:30 a.m. in front of a Dunkin' Donuts location at the Melrose Shopping Center in the Philadelphia suburb of Cheltenham, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office.
Police say Alhakim parked a silver Mercury Sable outside the Dunkin' Donuts, walked up to King's Black Ford Edge in line at the eatery's drive-thru window and fired multiple shots at her through the driver's side window before he fled the scene. Six 9mm cartridge casings were recovered by police.
Investigators say Alhakim is the cousin of the father of Jean's three children. Leading up to the killing, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said in a statement that the pair "communicated and met multiple times" to plan the alleged murder-for-hire.
Photos of King and a Google Maps screenshot of the woman's apartment were recovered on Alhakim's phone, the DA's office stated. During an investigation into the elementary school teacher's death, police said, Jean deleted nearly 800 text messages between herself and Alhakim 13 minutes before she was interviewed by police on April 12.
Investigators believe that Jean hatched the plot to kill King after she was dumped by William Hayes, King's longtime boyfriend, earlier this year. After Hayes broke off the affair, police said, Jean would persistently "text, call and harass" him and King. Ultimately, Hayes obtained a restraining order against Jean.
"This cold-blooded killing of Rachel King was a targeted murder of an innocent person, planned by these two defendants and horrifically carried out in front of King's son," Steele wrote. "It is a tragic killing of a good person, all because of an ended affair."
Police were able to link Jean and Alhakim via the silver Mercury Sable captured on surveillance footage in the Cheltenham parking lot the day King was shot. The vehicle had previously been seen outside King's residence.
That vehicle was purchased in Jean's name on March 30, less than two weeks before the murder, at a shop on 61st St. in Philadelphia, according to the DA's release.
Police say that vehicle, along with the 9mm rounds from the "ghost gun" used in King's killing, also linked Alhakim to the murder of James "Chris" Farrell Jr., which took place on April 7, according to ABC 7.
King was a "devoted single mother, treasured teacher, and beloved sister and daughter," according to a GoFundMe initiative that has raised more than $106,000 as of May 2.
"Rachel was a cherished member of the Grover Cleveland Elementary Schools community, where she had taught for over a decade," read the online fundraiser. "Her loss has left a deep void in the lives of her family, friends, colleagues and students."
Farrell was a "standout athlete" at Simon Gratz High School, according to ABC 7, and one of seven children.
"It's like a gap, a void because we know we can't see him, and we want to make sure his daughter still knows we're here," his mother, Addie Farrell, told the outlet.