|Mon, Sep 22, 2014 12:12 PM
|Issue of September 17, 2014
June 04, 2014 | 10:14 AM
A New Albany woman was charged with Class A felony conspiracy to commit murder after she was accused of being part of a murder-for-hire plot to kill her husband.
Melissa Barger, 38, allegedly tried to hire her boyfriend to kill her husband on Memorial Day.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Barger's boyfriend, Matthew Pavlisin, was arrested on an active warrant from Putnam County and placed into custody. At the time of his arrest, Pavlisin was believed to be involved in a burglary of a home in Elizabeth. He later confessed to the crime and said there was more to the story.
"The set of facts surrounding this case are unusual and are equally as alarming," Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk said.
During interviews with police, Pavlisin allegedly admitted that, prior to the burglary in Elizabeth, he and his girlfriend, Barger, came up with a plan to murder her husband. It was Pavlisin's intention to steal a pistol from the Elizabeth residence and use it as the murder weapon.
Upon finding only long guns at the residence, Pavlisin said he hid them near the house, hoping to retrieve them later to sell or trade for a pistol. Pavlisin told police that, while he originally had no problems with killing the husband, he decided to cooperate with the police since he hated to see Barger's children go through the loss of a father.
"He said he was fatherless and didn't want to see the children go through that," Schalk said.
Pavlisin said the plot was first hashed out in April.
Police had Pavlisin meet with Barger while wearing a recording device on three occasions (May 21, 22 and 23). On these occasions, Barger agreed to assist Pavlisin in a scheme whereby Pavlisin would enter the house through an unlocked window, pose as a burglar and use a firearm kept in the house to kill Barger's husband while she took the children on a picnic.
The murder was to take place on Memorial Day at about noon.
During the recorded meetings, Barger told Pavlisin that she would get the home she and her husband shared in Palmyra, as well as insurance money.
On repeated occasions, Pavlisin asked Barger if she was sure that she wanted him to go through with the murder, asking, "You want him dead and gone?"
Barger allegedly said she did and that it was the "only way I'm going to get away from him."
In the final meeting between the two, when it was suggested that Barger bring Pavlisin a gun, she claimed that she didn't want to do that because it would be missed by her husband and they agreed upon the aforementioned plan.
"For the safety of everyone, we decided that Friday (May 23) it was prudent to act quickly and arrest (Barger)," Schalk said.
During her initial hearing Thursday in Harrison Superior Court, Barger cried out that she wanted her husband and that she loved him.
"She may love her husband, but she loved him to death because that's what she wanted to do, have him killed," Larry Wilder, attorney for Melissa Barger's husband, said.
"In the state of Indiana, there's a traditional way to get a divorce and we started that this morning, so, if you don't want to be married to somebody, you don't have to hire somebody to try to kill them," he said. "For $186 in legal fees, you can get a divorce."
Wilder also said that the Bargers' home in Palmyra is a rental and Barger's husband has no life insurance, so while she may have represented to Pavlisin there was a financial gain to be had, in actuality there really was none.
Schalk praised the Harrison County Sheriff's Dept. as well as the Indiana State Police for their assistance in the case.
Barger, whose request for a public defender was granted (Justin B. Mills), is being held on a $50,000 bond.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for July 23 with a jury trial tentatively scheduled for Aug. 26.
Pavlisin is charged with Class B felony burglary, Class D felony residential entry and theft, Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement and Class B misdemeanor false informing.
For his cooperation, Pavlisin will not be charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
"It is important to note that Pavlisin has not asked for any leniency in any pending charges that have been lodged against him, and it appears that his sole motivation for his cooperation is simply to spare the Barger children the trauma of their father's murder," the affidavit reads.