Detectives with the sheriff’s department in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, knew they had to act quickly when a man brought them a murder for hire case, and they took their sting operation to near Hollywood heights to catch the suspect in the act.
The clock was ticking, and for all they knew, the suspect may have already been “hitman-shopping,” one of the detectives explained on “Murder for Hire” on Oxygen.
Sheila Mills, 44, had been idly talking with friends for weeks about how she would love to see her estranged husband, Scott Mills, dead. She talked about it enough that word got around to Scott, and he brought his concerns to the sheriff’s department on May 12, 2008. Scott recommended deputies talk with Sheila’s friend Jessica Brown.
Brown and Sheila had recently had a discussion over wine about the marriage situation and, after some reluctance, Brown agreed to cooperate and introduce Sheila to Detective Lieutenant Mike Gibson, who would play a hitman.
The three met days later at a local Mexican restaurant over beers and appetizers. Gibson was surprised by Sheila’s flippancy when talking about wanting her husband dead, he told producers.
“She was talking about it like it was everyday business,” Gibson said. “There was no emotion and no hesitation … it was like she was ordering another round of chips and salsa.”
In undercover video obtained by “Murder for Hire,” Sheila can be heard telling Gibson that her husband is on blood thinners. That should make his murder easier, she says: “He’s a bleeder.”
Apparently, Sheila felt “tamed” by her husband. She had been taking a lot of painkillers since a car accident and had been taking money from their joint bank account behind his back, Jessica told sheriff’s deputies. Most of all, though, she said, “I’m tired of this s**t.”
Gibson would meet the bitter estranged wife twice more: once to discuss payment and logistics, and once to collect a $1,000 down payment from Sheila.
Then, detectives enlisted Scott himself to help them make a little show-biz magic in order to convince Sheila that her plan had worked and her estranged husband had been killed.
Detectives dug through an assortment of fake wounds used for training by the local fire department and devised a grisly death for Scott: He would “fall” from a ladder, splitting his head on a concrete block. Blood would be everywhere.
“It was very strange to create a crime scene like this,” Lieutenant Shannon Mack told “Murder for Hire” producers.
They spread the fake blood just so across the concrete slab, as Scott lay in an “abnormal” position that one of the department’s crime scene experts designed. At first, detectives said, they were concerned about the camera flash making the fake blood look “too shiny,” but eventually they came up with a scene that looked convincing.
That same afternoon, Gibson brought the photo as proof to Sheila. At first, Scott’s estranged wife appeared skeptical. She insisted that Scott had gone to work that day. She didn’t want to touch the photograph. Still, she eventually accepted the proof and told Gibson that she would be able to pay him from Scott’s life insurance policy in several months.
“Don’t call me,” Gibson warned her. “I’ll call you in six to eight months.”
Act Three of the detectives’ performance followed, with Mack and Lieutenant Bruce Bletz coming to deliver the sad news about Scott’s “death” to Sheila. Mack said she didn’t buy the suspect’s performance of grief. As soon as the detectives told Sheila they needed her to come down to the sheriff’s department to claim Scott’s personal effects — including $1,000 cash — she was voluntarily in their custody.
Sheila wasn’t prepared, however, to see her “hitman” showing up cussing at police — then suddenly wearing a sheriff’s badge around his neck. Nor, for that matter, her recently deceased husband.
Hidden camera footage on “Murder for Hire” showcases the moment Sheila looked up from signing some death-related forms to see Scott standing before her, arms folded across his chest.
“The look on her face was complete bewilderment,” Bletz said. “She wasn’t able to process yet what was going on.”
Mills pleaded guilty in March 2009 to one count of solicitation to commit murder, according to local TV station KSLA News.
For the whole story, including hidden-camera footage of Sheila describing how Gibson could kill her estranged husband, watch the season finale of “Murder for Hire” at Oxygen.com.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.