Officials: Florida inmate hired ‘hitman’ to kill victim

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – Deputies in Polk County say a man who is behind bars for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 12 tried to hire someone to kill his victim and witnesses.

Deputies say 26-year-old Richard Palmer is currently an inmate at the Polk County Jail. He was charged Wednesday with two counts of solicitation to commit murder and one count of solicitation to commit arson.

According to an affidavit, Palmer asked a cellmate if he knew anyone willing to kill his young victim and witnesses in his case. The cellmate told deputies Palmer offered $15,000 and a sports car in return for the murder of the child and two adults. Deputies say Palmer also wanted their house burned down to destroy evidence.

Palmer said he didn’t want his intended victims to come to court and didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison, according to the cellmate.

“Just when you think this man can’t get any lower, after being arrested for doing horrible things to a child, now he’s trying to hire someone to kill her and the witnesses,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “There’s not one bit of remorse in this man for what he’s done.”

Deputies say the cellmate turned over a map that Palmer drew of the targeted home, including landmarks and an interior layout, that was supposed to help the hired killer.

An undercover detective then got involved, posing as someone interested in helping with the murders. Deputies say Palmer used the term “X Out” when talking about the planned murders with the cellmate and detective.

The undercover detective was given directions and was promised a car and money in advance as partial payment. Palmer provided the detective with a security code question and arranged for $100 to be wired via Western Union.

Detectives say they also recorded a conversation between Palmer and his cellmate where Palmer used the coded phrase, “Exterminate all Jews.” Deputies say he was referring to his victims in the neighborhood.

An affidavit against Palmer for the lewd and lascivious charges was originally filed in February 2013. He was arrested in Ohio and extradited to Polk County in November 2015. Deputies say he posted bail in December but was arrested again in September 2017 for battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.