A Malden man was arrested this morning after he allegedly made a $1,500 down payment for his wife's death - to a "contract killer" who was actually an undercover FBI agent, the US Attorney's office reports.
Massimo Marenghi, 54, was charged with one count of murder-for-hire following his arrest in Portsmouth, NH, where he'd agreed to meet the killer to discuss a "demolition job" around 10 this morning.
According to an affidavit by an FBI agent on the case, Marenghi began talking to a friend in Northwood, NH, a small town midway between Portsmouth and Concord, several months ago about how he wanted his wife dead. The friend persuaded him, at least for awhile, that it would be a mistake to kill his wife, the affidavit continues.
But on New Year's Day, the Northwood resident contacted his local police department to report Marenghi was talking more seriously about it this time, and had asked his help in ending her life because of a number of issues, including a restraining order she'd taken out against him:
In text messages between MARENGHI and CS ]the friend] on January 1, 2021, MARENGHI again raised the topic of killing his wife. CS responded that if MARENGHI was serious about having his wife killed, then the cost would be $10,000 in cash. MARENGHI agreed and provided CS with photographs of his wife, information regarding his wife’s employment location and hours, her home address in Malden, a description of her vehicle, and her telephone number.
Northwood Police contacted Malden Police, who in turn called the FBI, which sent an agent to Northwood to talk to the friend, who agreed to cooperate - by attempting to connect Marenghi with an FBI agent posing as a killer for hire.
The affidavit continues that Marenghi called a number provided by the friend and talked to the "killer" using a series of code words, which the friend had provided him from the FBI:
MARENGHI introduced himself as “Boston,” asked to speak with “Mrs. Smith,” and stated that he was inquiring about a “construction job.” Using coded language, the undercover agent indicated that the job would require “blueprints,” “pictures of the site,” “what time work could start,” and a “preliminary invoice.” MARENGHI and the UC [undercover agent] scheduled an in-person meeting for January 20, 2021.
Marenghi and the agent met in Portsmouth on Jan. 20:
During the meeting, MARENGHI described a “situation” he needs “taken care of” – that is, his “soon-to-be” ex-wife. The UC asked, “You want to get rid of her?” to which MARENGHI responded, “Yeah, I need to ... to eliminate that problem.” The UC stated, “I mean, we can make it look like an accident ... it is your call.” MARENGHI replied, “Yeah, well, I mean obviously that’s the best way.” At one point, MARENGHI stated, “Well, I just- I just need her out of the way for now.” The UC responded, “OK, well that’s ... that’s totally different. You either want her killed or you don’t.” MARENGHI stated, “Um, I need- I need the problem eliminated.”
MARENGHI and the UC discussed a price for the murder-for-hire, $10,000, and MARENGHI explained that he may need some time to “free up some assets because everything is tied up right now.” During the meeting, MARENGHI provided the UC with a photograph of his wife’s residence. MARENGHI explained in detail the location of the camera outside his wife’s house and described how someone could stand behind the barrels at the end of the driveway such that the person would be hidden from any cameras and out of sight from his wife. MARENGHI further provided a possible exit route likely to evade detection. MARENGHI told the UC that he would bring payment and a photograph of his wife to their next meeting.
The two talked by phone on Tuesday and Wednesday and set another meeting for 10 a.m. this morning in Portsmouth.
During the meeting, MARENGHI and the UC discussed details relating to the murder-for-hire. MARENGHI provided the UC with $1,500 in cash as a deposit for the murder. He explained that the sooner the “demolition job” takes place, the sooner he will be able to pay the balance. He also provided the UC with a photograph of his wife, the hours of operation of her place of business, and a schedule indicating the “best time for the construction work to start.”
Marenghi was then taken into custody.