Five suspects, including two who were already in custody at the Forsyth County Jail, have been charged in a reported murder-for-hire plot that originated at the jail and targeted the alleged victim of a previous crime, Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman said in a news conference on Wednesday, April 27.
Freeman said the suspects sought to kill the victim of a 2017 armed motorcycle hijacking for which Kwame Akintunde Abayomi, 31, of Douglas, faces charges. He is now one of the five charged in the plot to kill that victim.
“In three decades of doing this, this is the first time that I have seen this many individuals conspire to commit the murder of a victim of a crime,” Freeman said. “This is not a case to take lightly. Make no bones about it, they are not very good at their craft or what they’re trying to do, but this is a serious case.”
The other accomplices were:
• Shelby Fairley, 29, of Cumming, who occupied the same cell block as Abayomi and was previously indicted for rape, aggravated child molestation and aggravated sexual battery
• Quinton Ingram, 30, of Atlanta, Fairley’s brother and the planned hitman who was reportedly paid about $6,000 to kill the victim of the armed robbery in a reported effort to stop the victim from testifying in court.
• Claritza Castillo Gomez, 30, of Douglas, the mother of Abayomi’s children who allegedly handled his business and money while he was in jail and communicated with Ingram.
• Maliyah Franklin, 19, of Douglas, Abayomi’s current girlfriend, who allegedly met with Ingram to set up the planned murder and handled monetary transactions.
All five are being held in the Forsyth County Jail without bond and are being charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
The three who were not in custody reportedly had information such as the victim’s biography, picture, name and family information on their cell phones.
According to information on state law provided to those at the meeting, “a person shall be convicted of the offense of criminal conspiracy to commit a crime punishable by death of by life imprisonment shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years.”
The victim, who was reportedly robbed at gunpoint after attempting to sell his motorcycle on Craigslist to Abayomi, told FCSO officials they wished to remain anonymous but released a statement which was read by Freeman and printed for those in attendance.
“When I was made aware the suspect in my robbery case wanted to have me murdered, obviously I was concerned and scared,” the victim said in the statement. “This all seemed surreal and something you would see in the movies. To receive the news all the people involved have been arrested is a sigh of relief.
“The detectives have kept me up to date and made sure I was aware of what was going on. I can’t believe how determined and caring these deputies were in making sure I was safe and these individuals were arrested.”
Freeman said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the local court system had been unable to hold trials. Once they started up again, Abayomi’s was one of the first on the court calendar, and the plot to murder the robbery victim was allegedly to stop him from testifying in court, Freeman said.
In 2019, Abayomi was arrested after DNA evidence at the victim’s residence tied him to the crime.
Abayomi and an accomplice reportedly met with the victim to look at and potentially buy a motorcycle. While meeting, Abayomi grabbed a black bag from the vehicle he arrived in and the accomplice pointed a gun at the victim, who told the two to take the bike.
FCSO officials told Forsyth County News in 2019 that the victim was also armed and had retreated to the tree line of his property and began firing at the suspects as they fled the area. Both suspects eluded his gunfire and attempts by law enforcement to pursue them.
Freeman said, while in jail, Abayomi was the “mastermind” of the plan and the suspects used “various means of communication including coded messages to facilitate the hiring of a hitman and ultimately murder our victim.”
Though the plan was to silence the victim, Freeman said the ensuing investigation uncovered more evidence in the original crime.
“He left evidence at the scene during that robbery that led to his arrest,” Freeman said. “During this investigation, we found more evidence of his original armed robbery that’s going to be used against his trial on that.”
Freeman said while at Forsyth County Jail, Abayomi met Fairley, who contacted a hitman through coded messages. A cipher for the coded messages was found in a later sweep of Abayomi’s cell.
Though Gomez received a coded note from a former cellmate of Abayomi and paid the hitman, that individual allegedly took the money for the hit and disappeared.
After the first potential hitman left, Franklin and Gomez were able to meet with and pay Ingram about $6,000 to murder the victim, authorities said.
“We believe our victim was hours, if not days, from an attempt on his life,” Freeman said.
Detective Tim Conner, who along with Lt. John Neville and Sgt. Brandon Moore joined Freeman during the conference, said the plan was likely for Ingram to shoot the victim but there was no solid evidence.
“I think some of the evidence is indicative of discussions to make his murder look like another crime gone bad,” Freeman said, “and, again, to blame the victim of a violent crime, in this case, it would have been for his own death, to make him look like a criminal or someone who was doing something wrong. It doesn’t get more heinous than this.”