Woman plotted husband's death over Snapchat assuming evidence would be deleted
| November 6th 2019
Kemia and Tyrone Hassel were both soldiers and so understood what it took to put others first.
When they became parents to their two-year-old son, they vowed to protect him, too.
US Army Sgt Tyrone Hassel III had been destined for the military.
He was high-achieving, athletic and had a strong sense of right and wrong.
Tyrone, 23, had joined the Army in 2015 and showed such promise that he was quickly promoted.
His job and family meant everything to him.
Tyrone was married to Kemia, an Army Specialist and mother to their son.
In 2017, Tyrone and Kemia, 22, were posted to South Korea.
While Tyrone worked hard for his country and was planning his family’s future, Kemia was making different plans.
She was coming up with a strategy that would get her exactly what she wanted.
Kemia was having an affair with another soldier, Jeremy Cuellar, 24, also based in South Korea.
They were sneaking around behind Tyrone’s back and plotting to be together.
But instead of just telling Tyrone, Kemia didn’t want to walk away from everything he had to offer.
They would need money for their new life.
Tyrone had an Army life insurance policy that totalled more than $400,000 that she wouldn’t be entitled to if they separated.
But what if Tyrone died before then?
Kemia and Jeremy were conspiring to kill Tyrone.
In order to avoid being traced, they started to communicate through Snapchat, because they wrongly believed the app’s temporary messages would be undetectable by police.
For months they sent messages to each other about how they were going to murder unsuspecting Tyrone.
It was New Year’s Eve 2018, and Kemia and Tyrone were staying with Tyrone’s dad in St Joseph Township, Michigan.
They were on military leave for the festive season.
In the evening, Tyrone went to a family party, leaving Kemia at his dad’s house.
Before 11pm, he messaged Kemia to say he was coming back with a plate of food for her.
Kemia then messaged Jeremy and told him there was an opportunity for an ambush.
Tyrone left the party before the New Year rang in, and had almost reached the house when Jeremy shot him in the head and neck before disappearing.
Paramedics rushed to the scene, but Tyrone was pronounced dead at hospital.
Kemia played the grieving widow – she even allowed Tyrone’s family to comfort her.
But once investigators found out about her affair, they started to look closer.
It was discovered Kemia had made a number of internet searches after the killing.
One was ‘how to delete Snapchat’.
Another was ‘active duty soldier killed on New Year’s Eve’.
Kemia also looked up ‘what do I do after my house is paid off’.
Jeremy’s mobile placed him in the area. He had no reason to be in Michigan.
Kemia was brought in for questioning and after a long time denying any involvement in her husband’s murder, she confessed.
She talked calmly about how she’d been unhappy in her marriage, but didn’t want to divorce him because she wouldn’t be eligible for his life insurance policy.
After the three-day trial, the jury deliberated for just over an hour and found Kemia guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Afterwards, Tyrone’s dad, also called Tyrone, said listening to recordings of Kemia’s confession were ‘difficult’ because he didn’t hear any sympathy in her voice.
‘She’s the devil,’ he said.
He called his son a hero.
‘You want your kid to be better than you, and he accomplished that,’ he said.
In August this year, Kemia was sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
She was given the opportunity to say something to her husband’s family, but chose not to.
In July this year, Jeremy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, as part of a deal to avoid a first-degree murder charge.
In exchange, he received a minimum of 65 years in prison.
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