By Jerry Markon and Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, December 9, 2005
The two women, both named April and with the middle name Dawn, lived in different parts of Fairfax County and dated 22-year-old men. Now, both women have been charged in separate murder-for-hire plots with trying to have those boyfriends killed, police said yesterday.
In what authorities called a bizarre coincidence, police charged April Dawn Shiflett, 33, with plotting the slaying of her 22-year-old boyfriend and charged April Dawn Davis, 27, with soliciting the murder of her former significant other, also 22. Police released the information yesterday, though the two were charged a week ago.
Murder for hire is an unusual charge, and Fairfax police said announcing two separate plots on the same day, involving two women with the same first name, is extraordinary.
"It is weird. We checked and double-checked to make sure they are, in fact, two separate incidents. We actually woke up the detectives,'' said Lt. Richard Perez, a police spokesman.
He called the common thread of the name April "a freaky coincidence.'' The undercover officer was the same in each case.
Shiflett, of the Alexandria section of Fairfax, was charged Nov. 29 with solicitation to commit murder and arraigned the next day. Davis, of the Fairfax City area, was arrested on the same charge Dec. 2 at the Lone Star Steakhouse in Fairfax City, where she worked as a waitress. She was arraigned Monday.
Police said the cases involved different motives but declined to say what they were. They also declined to say how Shiflett and Davis wanted the killings to happen.
Attorneys for Shiflett and Davis did not return telephone calls yesterday. A man who answered the phone at Shiflett's home declined to comment, as did a manager at the Lone Star Steakhouse.
A woman who said she is Davis's grandmother declined to comment.
James Alan Fox, a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University in Boston, said the cases are inherently uncommon because crime statistics show that men kill nine times as often as women do.
But when women are charged with trying to kill someone, they are more likely to have hired someone to do the job, he said. "Women, when they kill, generally like to keep their distance, physically and psychologically,'' said Fox, who has written six books about homicide. "They don't particularly want to get their hands bloody.''
Fairfax police said Shiflett, who is unemployed, met with an undercover officer about 9:30 p.m. Nov. 29 in the county. Perez said Shiflett paid the officer to have her Alexandria-area boyfriend killed, though he declined to reveal how much she gave. Shiflett was arrested and taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, where she is being held without bond.
Davis met with an undercover officer about 8 p.m. Nov. 15 and indicated she wanted to hire someone to kill her former boyfriend, police said. After a second discussion of the proposed slaying Nov. 30, officers from Fairfax County and Fairfax City arrested her at the steakhouse.
A bond hearing for Davis is scheduled for today. If convicted, the women would face five to 40 years in prison.
Despite the similarities in how the women were arrested, Perez said no specific crackdown is underway on murder-for-hire schemes. "This is simply information that came to the attention of our undercover officers, and they followed up on it,'' he said.
Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.