A social worker from upstate New York has been arrested after attempting to hire a hit-man to kill the father of her only grandchild. Fifty-seven-year-old Melissa Schonfield was taken into custody Friday following a meeting with an undercover sheriff’s deputy who was posing as a man willing to kill Ernesto Negrillo for a price.
According to the Jefferson County, New York, Sheriff’s Department, Schonfield met with the deputy Friday. The meeting took place in her car in the parking lot of a Walmart in Watertown, New York. Schonfield had offered the undercover deputy $11,000 to carry out the hit and suggested to him that the best way to dispose of the body would be to feed it to the alligators. She was arrested after she handed over half of the payment to the deputy.
Schonfield pleaded not guilty and is currently out on bail. She is being charged with second-degree conspiracy and criminal solicitation. The sheriff’s department says that it uncovered the plot through a tip from a concerned citizen. According to the deputy who met with Schonfield, she informed him that her husband, well-respected New York dentist Robert Schonfield, was aware of her intentions. The Huffington Post contacted her husband, who said that he had no comment on the matter. The woman’s daughter, Alexis Schonfield, 31, says that she only found out about her mother’s arrest on Facebook.
In an interview with ABC News, Alexis Schonfield, who is Negrillo’s former girlfriend, said “my mom is not a monster.” She also said that Negrillo, who lives in Florida, had been verbally abusive towards her. In another interview, given to the Huffington Post, Alexis Schonfield described her relationship with Negrillo as “volatile.” Remarking on her claims that he had been verbally abusive towards her, she said “I think emotional and verbal domestic abuse is a big joke to people,” adding “it’s just as bad as physical violence. It’s just that the scars are not visible.” Alexis Schonfield dismisses the idea that her father had any knowledge of the plot and neither she nor her father have been implicated.
Negrillo spoke recently to the Huffington Post about the alleged plot to kill him. He and Alexis Schonfield have a son who is now two years old. The couple split up in 2012 and Alexis Schonfield moved to New York to live with her parents. He denied that he had been abusive and said that he had not spoken to the family for some time, nor was he fighting for custody of the child. “I don’t know why she would want to kill me,” he told the Post. “I think all they wanted was a grandson,” he said, referring to Melissa and Robert Schonfield. “They got one from me and then they left.”
Three years ago, Negrillo was attacked by the husband of another ex-girlfriend who also accused him of being abusive and had a restraining order against him. in that incident, the attacker struck Negrillo over the head twice with a pistol.
Speaking about the arrest of Melissa Schonfield in New York, Negrillo expressed sadness and said “she didn’t have to do what she did. She ruined her reputation and now there’s no grandma in the picture for my son.”
Alexis Schonfield said her mother has not admitted to plotting to kill Negrillo. She told the Huffiington Post that she thought her mother had just been “trying to protect my son and she got tired of watching me cry.”
By Graham J Noble