Early in the evening of June 20, Arlington detectives drove 60 miles south to a mobile home park near Fredricksburg and searched a beige house trailer with rust-colored trim and the name "Renaud" on the side. They found what they were looking for -- four bottles of household bleach.
The discovery of the bleach -- an unlikely object for a search warrant but a highly flammable chemical -- led later that day to the arrest of Louise B. Renaud on felony charges of procuring the burning of an occupied dwelling at night and soliciting to commit capital murder.
According to an affidavit filed in Arlington Circuit Court in support of the warrant to search the Renauds' trailer, the object of the alleged murder contract was Louise Renaud's husband, Russell.
The case, described by Arlington Commonwealth's Attorney Henry E. Hudson as "certainly out of the ordinary," was launched by an undercover agent for the Naval Investigative Service and later turned over to Arlington police. An Arlington Circuit Court grand jury indicted Louise Renaud on the two charges last week. If convicted of the malicious burning charge, she could face a sentence of life imprisonment. Conviction on the other charge carries a maximum of five years in prison.
Neither the slaying nor the burning was carried out. Law enforcement officials declined to discuss details of the case. According to the affidavit and indictments, Renaud met three times with the undercover agent in Arlington between April 16 and May 30. In those meetings, the affidavit says, Renaud "provided the special agent with photographs, diagrams and U.S. currency as a deposit for the contract."
Investigators said the agent received a $500 deposit on the $10,000 contract. "The special agent asked Renaud to place several containers of Clorox throughout the trailer to act as a fire accelerant, which she agreed to do," the affidavit says.
An investigator, who did not want to be identified, said in an interview the Naval Investigative Service first focused on Renaud "as a result of other undercover work," but would not elaborate. He said the special agent was introduced to Renaud, a member of the D.C. Air National Guard, as "someone who could perform the contract."
Little could be learned last week about the couple. Renaud, now in Arlington jail on $100,000 bond, declined to be interviewed. Her husband, who police said is an Air National Guard technician, could not be reached. A custody hearing for the couple's two young children is scheduled July 12 in Spotsylvania County. Renaud's trial is set for Sept. 11 in Arlington.