Two brothers are in jail for allegedly planning to murder an Idaho state trooper so the trooper's ex-wife, now married to one of the brothers, could cash in on the trooper's life insurance and get the kids.
Eric Wolfgang Wicklund, 3429 Fowler Ave., Ogden, and his brother, Michael Wicklund, Downey, Idaho, were indicted Friday in Utah on federal charges of conspiracy to travel across state lines to commit murder for hire.The two brothers, who are jailed in Idaho, made an initial court appearance via telephone with a federal magistrate in Boise late Friday, said First Assistant U.S. Attorney David Schwendiman.
The two men later will be brought to Salt Lake City to stand trial before a federal judge here.
Eric Wicklund, 33, is married to the unidentified trooper's ex-wife, according to the indictment. He asked his older brother, Michael Wicklund, 37, to help him kill the trooper, according to the indictment. The trooper currently had custody of Mrs. Wicklund's children. She and Eric Wicklund wanted custody of the kids along with proceeds of the trooper's life-insurance policy designated for the children, the indictment says.
On July 26, a confidential informant notified authorities of Eric Wicklund's plans. The Ogden man allegedly told the informant that he planned to shoot the trooper as the trooper was leaving his house.
Late Thursday night, Eric Wicklund and the informant traveled to Idaho, where they met Michael Wicklund at the Flag West truck stop, off I-15, a few miles east of Downey.
Shortly after midnight, Layton police officer Steve Brown joined the three men. Working undercover, Brown met with the men to negotiate the sale of a 30.06 and 9mm pistol to be used in the murder of the trooper, the indictment says.
Eric Wicklund allegedly bragged to Brown that the trooper would be the first of several hits. He said he was offering to do hired hits for $5,000 a murder, unless the victims were "somebodies," in which case the price jumped to $50,000. He told Brown he had killed people before and would need more weapons in the future for hired hits. He then offered to kill anyone Brown and his associates wanted dead, the indictment says.
After getting the guns, both brothers left to drive to their own homes. Each was stopped along the way and arrested.
After his arrest, Eric Wicklund told authorities that he and his wife had talked about going into the business of "taking care of people's problems" and admitted that he planned to be paid $5,000 per murder. "Wicklund intended to murder seven to nine people per month, earning vast sums of money," the indictment says.
Eric Wicklund earlier told the confidential informant that "killing people for hire was better than robbing banks because banks had too many cameras," according to the indictment.
Michael Wicklund's take was more modest. For the older brother's help, prosecutors say, Eric Wicklund had agreed to buy $2,000 worth of Herbal Life products each month from his brother.
After his arrest, Michael Wicklund told authorities that Eric Wicklund planned to work for a "mafia guy," killing people for money. He said his brother had two outstanding contracts to commit murders. One of the contracts was on a police officer, the indictment states.
Michael Wicklund also allegedly said his brother was involved in a murder in Minnesota in 1977, as a teenager, and planned to rob a convenience store with three or four friends. "The group lost the nerve to rob the store, but noticed an elderly gentleman sleeping in his vehicle. According to Michael, Eric provided the weapon that was used to kill the elderly gentleman," the indictment says.
Michael Wicklund is an unemployed mechanic and water-softener repairman. Neighbors of Eric Wicklund say the Wicklunds recently moved into the duplex on Fowler Avenue and no one knew much about them.
If convicted, the brothers could face 10 or more years in prison.