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When Melissa Shreve told her former mother-in-law, Theresa “Terri” White, that she was no longer allowed to see her grandchildren, White went to deadly lengths to reconnect with her family.
Shreve had cut off contact with White, who struggled with alcohol, after she attempted to visit her newborn grandson while intoxicated. That is when Shreve and her husband, Nick, gave White an ultimatum: She could only have a relationship with her grandchildren if she sought treatment for her addiction.
“She was very angry,” Shreve told “Murder for Hire,” airing Sundays at 7/6c on Oxygen. “She told me I was withholding her grandkids from her, and I told her, as a mother, I’m protecting my children. And I have every right to protect my children.”
Furious, White reached out to her sister-in-law, Barbara Dillon, and asked for her help to “get rid” of Shreve. White believed that Dillon, who was briefly married to a Mafia hitman in the early 1970s, still had connections to organized crime.
Dillon was floored by White’s admission that she was looking for someone to kill her daughter-in-law, who, at the time, was nine months pregnant with her third child. Worried White would solicit someone else to commit the contract killing if she refused, Dillon told White she needed time to set up the meeting with a hitman. Dillon then went to police in Oro Valley, Arizona, to report the potential murder-for-hire case and became a confidential informant.
About a week later, on Aug. 23, 2013, Dillon met White at a local In-N-Out Burger parking lot. A hidden recording device placed under the front seat of Dillon’s PT Cruiser captured White telling Dillon that Shreve’s murder should be “quick” and “look like an accident.”
“I thought something like … running her off the road, and then … snapping her neck,” said White, adding that Shreve was a “bitch,” who was unable to make Nick happy.
Dillon promised that her contact — an undercover officer with the Oro Valley Police Department going by the name “Primo” — would call White soon to coordinate a face-to-face meeting. On Aug. 28, “Primo” got in touch with White, who said she wanted daughter-in-law “gone, dead.” White revealed that Shreve was pregnant, and that the murder needed to take place following the birth of her child in early October.
Again, White stressed that the hit had to look like an accident: “Unconscious and maybe a snapped neck,” she said. “Lots of times women just suddenly die after childbirth.”
“Primo” and White agreed to meet in person on Sept. 13 at a Walgreens parking lot, where White would bring a few of her guns as down payment for the murder. A camera was concealed in the undercover officer’s vehicle to record the entire conversation.
After entering the officer’s car, White explained that she wanted Shreve dead so that she, her son and her grandchildren could “be a family again.”
“I want Mel to disappear permanently,” White told the undercover officer, adding that she would attend Shreve’s funeral to “comfort [her] son” and watch over the children. White confirmed Shreve’s name and address and gave “Primo” a bag containing a handgun, knives, an iPhone, an Obama coin and bottles of gold dust as a down payment.
The two then shook hands, and after White exited the vehicle, an arrest team swarmed the grandmother and took her into custody. White was charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and she later took a plea agreement, reported the Arizona Daily Star. She was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, and died four years into her sentence from natural causes, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections.
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