In early November, a Cottage Grove man, according to police officers, killed his wife in “one of the most bizarre cases ever seen.” Stephen Carl Allwine attempted to hire hitmen to take out his wife but the 47-year-old, after a darknet scam, resorted to killing her by himself. Well, the accused killed her without the use of a hitman but Allwine first received advice on the situation from users of a darknet forum.
Police officers responded to a suicide call at Allwine’s home and immediately noticed that something did not add up. Amy Louise Allwine allegedly shot herself in the bedroom of the house she shared with the defendant. On the floor, next to her left elbow, sat a 9mm pistol. Amy Allwine, according to court documents, had a bullet wound on the right side of her head. The bullet entered the victim’s skull through the right-hand side of her head yet neither hand showed any sign of pulling the trigger, detectives said. The “victim’s hands revealed no soot, no gunpowder stippling, no unburned gunpowder stippling, and no blood on either hand,” a court document revealed. Officials released the criminal complaint in mid-January 2017.
The multi-agency investigation uncovered a web of information regarding the case and the husband, Stephen Carl Allwine. He worked online from the house’s basement, officers explained. They found “a large amount of computer equipment, which appeared to be very sophisticated and technologically advanced,” the complaint revealed.
Over time, the buried details began to unravel. Despite the online job, Allwine (referring to Stephen Allwine from here on out) played naive regarding the inner-workings of the Internet. “It should be noted that the defendant was not truthful with law enforcement regarding his activity on the web,” an officer wrote in the criminal complaint. The statement continued, “he denied knowing about hacking or the Dark Web, yet information gleaned from examining defendant’s computer revealed that defendant had accessed the Dark Web as early as 2014.” His bank records lined up with bitcoin purchases for thousands of dollars, little of which he accounted for.
In addition to the knowledge that Allwine knew more than he let on, police discovered that he entertained two extra-marital lovers. He met both on Ashley Madison and officers learned the identity of the woman most involved. They spoke with her about the defendant—whom she admitted knowing. About the suspected murder, she told officers that Allwine could be the killer. She said that he was very smart, especially when it came to technology.
A forensic evaluation of Allwine’s electronic devices yielded enough to elicit a second-degree murder charge. They seized several computers and even more cellphones. Several Galaxy phones and an iPhone 6, among others. The username “dogdaygod” started popping up in connection with Allwine, often paired with the email address [email protected] Investigators discovered that he solicited the services of a hitman on the controversial “murder-for-hire” website Besa Mafia.
Besa Mafia made the news after an alleged breach by a hacker known as “bRpsd.” He leaked a file of usernames and email addresses along with evidence that Besa Mafia only scammed the end user. Instead of connecting hitmen with those who needed the services of a hitman, the entity behind the Besa Mafia site kept the proceeds and falsified stories about the failed attempts of the hitmen—the hacker claimed. Both the username dogdaygod and the associated email [email protected] appeared in the database dump. The legitimacy of the site faced routine criticism, as did the validity of the leak. These so-called “murder-for-hire marketplaces” rarely amounted to anything beyond a scam. We know, from earlier events, that people have tried to hire hitmen on the darknet; the instances often resulted in handcuffs, however.
As Allwine and the Besa Mafia entity connected, the connection between the online persona and Allwine’s phones and computers became concrete. Investigators found bitcoin addresses mentioned in conversations between the two—and then found references to the same bitcoin address on one of the suspect’s devices.
One of the strongest connections between dogdaygod and Allwine came in the form of an incorrect bitcoin address:
“On March 22, 2016, dogdaygod told Besa Mafia that when his computer screen refreshed, it provided him/her with the wrong bitcoin address where he/she had sent the additional funds. Dogdaygod asked if Besa Mafia was able to match it to the address the funds should have gone. Dogdaygod provided the address 1FUZ1IECCNHN2KW8MUXHZWOMBBW1TCFVIHB. The investigation revealed that bitcoin addresses are considered unique to each transaction. During computer forensics search of Defendant’s computer, this particular bitcoin wallet address was found on a backed up deleted file. The file was originally on Defendant’s phone but was transferred to his computer during an iPhone backup. This particular Bitcoin wallet address is the same address provided by dogdaygod, thus linking Defendant directly to dogdaygod (criminal complaint.”
The husband paid somewhere between $10,000 – $15,000 in Bitcoin to have his wife murdered. They, the hitman and Allwine, decided upon a killing her by shooting her at close range and subsequently burning the house down. Allwine found the death-by-sniper option far too pricey for his liking. After an unspecified amount of time passed without a dead wife or burned down the house, dogdaygod started messaging the Besa Mafia communicator for details. The Besa Mafia entity said that “local police stopped the hitman for driving a stolen vehicle and taken to jail prior to the hit,” the complaint explained. “Sergeant McAlister noted that during this time, no one was apprehended in Minnesota and western Wisconsin in a stolen vehicle and possession of a gun.”
Allwine ceased communication with Besa Mafia and took to the forums. He posted on the Dream Marketplace in search of a local scopolamine vendor, the complaint said. Likewise, he signed up for Reddit and asked how to spot law enforcement on the darknet.
A forensic examination of the house revealed bloodstains that contributed to the arrest of Allwine. The footsteps—only visible with luminol—further pointed to the husband as the killer. Amy Louise Allwine, according to the report, died in a separate room from where police found her body. The luminol verified that she died in the laundry room. Allwine, the investigators claimed, dragged her to the bedroom after shooting her elsewhere.
Police officers arrested Allwine on January 18, 2017, for the murder of his wife. One count of second-degree murder. The judge set bail at $1 million without conditions and $500,000 with strict conditions.