A southeast Missouri pastor who moved to New England has been charged with enlisting his mistress and her husband in an unsuccessful plot to burn down his home and kill his wife.
Donald Lafferty, 69, was arrested Monday in North Andover, Mass. The former Bloomfield, Mo., school board member moved to Quechee, Vt., after a January 2013 house fire that police are calling arson.
Authorities say Lafferty enlisted Brandy Hicks, 33, of Dexter, and her husband, Christopher David Hicks, in a scheme to burn the house and collect insurance money, The Dexter Daily Statesman reported Tuesday.
Brandy Hicks told a Stoddard County investigator that she and Lafferty started a sexual relationship after she attended his church. Christopher Hicks, 34, and his wife face identical charges.
Lafferty’s wife, Mildred Lafferty, was asleep when the fire broke out but survived. Donald Lafferty is charged with attempted murder, armed criminal action and first-degree arson.
He also faces a felony charge of financial exploitation of the elderly in a case involving his 89-year-old mother. He is accused of stealing $86,000 from his mother’s life savings by forging bank documents.
A probable cause statement filed by Tim McCoy, an investigator for Stoddard County Prosecutor Russell Oliver, indicates that Oliver reopened the house fire case in April after Lafferty emerged as a suspect in his mother’s exploitation.
Mildred Lafferty told McCoy that her husband may have tampered with her coffee while preparing her breakfast the morning of the fire. She said she later became ill while driving to Poplar Bluff and asked Donald Lafferty to drive her back home, where she fell asleep on a couch. Mildred Lafferty said that she awoke she saw her husband removing a piece of family furniture as well as his computer from their home.
Brandy Hicks told the investigator that Donald Lafferty paid her bills, gave her spending money and bought her two automobiles. She said he offered her and Chris Hicks money to set the fire.