Michael Walker came home to a grisly scene. His wife was dead in their bed, killed overnight while Walker worked at a nearby Army medical center in Honolulu. The intruder had walked through the back door, grabbed a long knife from the kitchen and stabbed Walker’s wife, Catherine, as she slept.

Walker called 911. It was just as he had planned.

That evening, in November 2014, was the denouement of a feverish plan, plotted out in text messages, emails and secret meetings between Walker and Ailsa Jackson, a woman he met online two months earlier and began an affair with soon after.

Their brief relationship began a years-long criminal case that revealed a deadly love triangle in lurid detail and resulted in charges of child pornography, abuse and murder. In federal court in the Hawaiian capital on Monday, Jackson was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the fatal stabbing, while Walker was sentenced to 35 years for aiding and abetting — a longer term, the judge said, because he had orchestrated the killing.

“The sentences imposed in this case hold defendants Michael Walker and Ailsa Jackson accountable for their truly horrific conduct, and bring to a close this tragedy," U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Kenji M. Price told The Washington Post. "We hope that the judgment entered in this case will bring at least some closure to those most affected by these defendants’ egregious conduct.”

During their first weeks together, Jackson confided in Walker about her struggles with mental illness, and Walker told Jackson that he wished his wife were “gone.” It was clear, Jackson would later tell prosecutors, what Walker meant: He wanted Jackson to kill his wife.

It was the only way they could be together, Walker told Jackson, explaining that he couldn’t get a divorce and that he’d receive $400,000 in life insurance if his wife were dead. Walker called this his “deepest desire,” court records show, and the phrase became code for them.

In text exchanges, made public by prosecutors, they talked often of wanting to meet up and lamented the person who was “in the way.”

“I want you so bad its like a craving,” Jackson wrote to Walker a month before the murder.

“I know. Me too,” he replied. “If only someone was out of the way!”

“Yea I know,” Jackson said.

In November 2014, Walker, now a former Army medic, started on the night shift at Tripler Army Medical Center, which kept him at work from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. — an ideal time for Jackson to commit the crime, he reasoned, because his wife would be alone and he would have an alibi, court records say.

On Nov. 4, Walker told Jackson in an email that “you have my permission. The sooner the better.” A week later, the records show, Jackson went to Walker’s house, intending to kill Catherine Walker that night. But the doors were locked and she couldn’t get inside.

The next day, Michael Walker texted her: “I need my desire taken care of soon. I'[m] going crazy.”

“I know daddycakes,” Jackson replied. “I was going to but ran into a problem.”

She told him, cryptically, that she ran into “an access problem.”

“Oh I see,” he wrote back. “I can help with that.”

On Nov. 14, Catherine Walker’s last day alive, Michael Walker and Jackson met in the parking lot of the gym on the military reservation, their “usual meeting place.” They agreed then, court documents say, that Jackson would kill Walker’s wife that evening.

They came up with more code. Walker said he’d text Jackson the word “good” if she could ingress through an open window, and he’d send the word “bad” if she had to use a key hidden in gravel outside to unlock the back door.

Later that day, Walker texted “bad.” Just before midnight, Jackson walked to his house, found the key and opened the door. She walked past the laundry room and into the kitchen. She picked out a knife and walked upstairs, where Catherine Walker was asleep.

A medical examiner’s autopsy ruled that Catherine Walker was stabbed multiple times in the neck and torso, and Jackson told investigators that she waited at the house for 30 minutes to make sure she was dead, the Associated Press reported at the time.

In court Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Brady recounted for the first time Catherine Walker’s final words — words of forgiveness.

“On the night she was stabbed to death, Jackson asked her if she forgave her,” Brady said. “As she was being stabbed, Catherine replied, ‘Yes.’ ”

Catherine Walker’s father, Douglas Plotz, said his family supported a lower sentence for Jackson, who avoided life in prison by helping prosecutors convict Michael Walker, AP reported.

“We wholeheartedly forgive her,” he said. “I want Ms. Jackson to know that.”

Walker apologized to his wife’s family in court, telling them that he’d “do anything if it could bring her back.”

It was the conclusion of at least his third criminal proceeding in the past five years. In 2016, a military court found him guilty of possessing and viewing child pornography, charges the murder investigation brought to light. The evidence in that case included 92 photos and 19 videos that law enforcement found on Walker’s laptop, AP reported then. He was also accused of soliciting men for sex in exchange for money. The next year, he was convicted of sexually abusing and physically assaulting a child.

This week, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway cast Walker as a manipulative man who arranged to have his wife killed, according to the AP account of the hearing.

“Ms. Jackson wielded the knife that killed your wife,” Mollway told Walker as she issued his sentence. “And that was a terrible, terrible deed. But it does appear to me that you were in control.”

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