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Ex-Jail Guard Convinced Dying Father To Kill Her Estranged Husband To Settle Custody Dispute, Prosecutors Say

Elizabeth Kilgore of Missouri was engaged in a contentious custody battle with her husband Lance and authorities believe she went to devious lengths to end it. 

By Eric Shorey

A former Missouri jail guard convinced her terminally ill father to kill her estranged husband and then himself in order to resolve a custody issue, prosecutors say.

Elizabeth Kilgore, 35, of Quincy, Missouri has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her husband Lance Kilgore, according to The Associated Press.

Elizabeth's father, Charles Sander, killed his son-in-law and himself on Sept. 7 according to KY3, a Springfield, Missouri-based news organization. Sander, a convicted felon who had an unspecified illness that was described as "terminal," shot Lance to death during a custody exchange of the Kilgores' 2-year-old child at a convenience store in Osceola, Missouri, according to The Associated Press. He then shot himself. Both deaths were caught by a surveillance camera. Elizabeth arrived moments after and said she had been "running late."

Prosecutors believe that Elizabeth had arranged the murder-suicide to resolve an increasingly contentious custody battle with her husband, according to The Associated Press. Witnesses say that separation proceedings with Lance had been fraught with conflict. One witness claims to have seen Elizabeth using a picture of Lance as a target during shooting practice. Another said they heard her threatening to kill him should he attempt to take her child away.

Elizabeth had been fired from her position as a jail guard in August after asking two inmates to help kill Lance, according to the charging documents. When questioned, she had admitted to smuggling an inmate contraband but denied the solicitation allegation.

In a recorded call, Elizabeth was heard telling an inmate that her father had offered to "handle my problem for me," according to The Springfield News Leader, another Springfield, Missouri-based news organization.

A probable cause statement says that in the week before the killings, Lance had told family and friends that he believed he was in danger, according to Ozarks First, another Springfield, Missouri-based news organization.

No attorney is listed for Elizabeth in online court records. She is jailed without bond.

[Photo: St. Clair County Sheriff's Office]