The landscaper told authorities that Terri Moulton Horman approached him with the murder-for-hire plot six to seven months before Kyron disappeared, The Oregonian has learned.
She reportedly offered the landscaper, who advertises his expertise in lawn care, a large sum of money to carry out the scheme, sources say.
Detectives with the Multnomah County Major Crimes Team shared the landscaper's account with Kyron's father, Kaine Horman, last weekend, prompting him to leave the house June 26 with the couple's 19-month-old daughter.
Within two days, he obtained a family law attorney and filed divorce papers and a petition for a restraining order under the Family Abuse Prevention Act.
Investigators also recorded a conversation June 26 among the cooperating landscaper, Terri Horman and an undercover law enforcement officer, but Horman shut down the conversation fairly quickly, sources said.
Detectives later confronted Terri Horman directly with the murder-for-hire allegation, which she denied, sources say. She has not been charged with a crime, as a criminal investigation proceeds.
Terri Horman retained prominent criminal defense lawyer Stephen Houze on Wednesday. Repeated attempts to reach Houze, who was on the East Coast, were unsuccessful. A woman who answered the door at Terri Horman's house Saturday referred questions to her attorney.
Laura Rackner, Kaine Horman's attorney, declined to comment Saturday night other than to say: "I just want to do whatever is going to help law enforcement right now."
After Kyron disappeared June 4, investigators with the county's Major Crimes Team tracked down the landscaper in the course of trying to interview everyone who had contact with the boy's family. They also found it odd that Terri Horman had hired a landscaper without her husband's knowledge.
The landscaper, contacted by The Oregonian last week, confirmed that he was hired to do lawn work at the Horman home off Northwest Sheltered Nook Road. He said he's talked with detectives and could not comment further. His name is being withheld to protect his identity as a cooperating witness in an ongoing criminal investigation.
Detectives last weekend also shared the information they developed about the alleged murder-for-hire scheme with Kyron's mother and stepdad, Desiree and Tony Young -- providing a clearer indication of why the two banded together with Kaine Horman and the three suddenly and publicly distanced themselves from Terri Horman.
On Thursday, Desiree Young, with Kyron's dad and her husband standing behind her, made an emotional plea to Terri Horman before television cameras -- the family's first public statements directed at Kyron's stepmom since the boy disappeared a month ago.
"We implore Terri Horman to fully cooperate with investigators to bring Kyron home," a shaken Young told the media.
Investigators said Terri Horman was the last known person to see Kyron, when she told authorities she left him about 8:45 a.m. June 4 at Skyline School. She snapped a photo of the second-grader wearing a "CSI" T-shirt and beaming a smile beside his science fair exhibit earlier and posted it that day on her Facebook page. She and her husband waited for Kyron at the school bus stop not far from their home that afternoon, and when he didn't get off the bus, they went to the school. The school hadn't contacted the family when Kyron didn't return to his classroom after the science fair.
A large-scale search ensued, with law enforcement and search-and-rescue agencies from across the state, California and Washington combing the expansive hills around Kyron's home and school for days.
Though the sheriff's office has consistently declined to say whether Terri Horman is a suspect or even a person of interest in the case, investigators have intently focused on her the past several weeks.
She was grilled for hours through two polygraph exams, friends and family said. Sources said there were indications of deception during her first polygraph and gaps in the timeline she gave investigators the day Kyron disappeared. Authorities released a flier and questionnaire June 18 featuring photos of Terri Horman and a white truck similar to the one she was driving when she took Kyron to school, asking whether anyone had seen either on June 4.
Last weekend, at 5:17 p.m. June 26, Terri Horman placed a 9-1-1 call, classified as a "threats" call, to Multnomah County dispatchers, and a sheriff's deputy responded. By 11:39 p.m., when her husband and her 19-month-old daughter hadn't returned home, Terri Horman placed another 9-1-1 call, one classified by dispatchers as a "custody" matter. Kaine Horman wasn't at the home when either call was placed, sources said. The sheriff's office has declined to allow the release of the 9-1-1 tapes.
Two nights later, about 6 p.m. Monday, Terri Horman was served the restraining order and divorce papers at her home. About 45 minutes earlier, she had denied to an Oregonian reporter who came to her door that her husband had moved out. She gave a thumbs up, saying, "Everything's good."
A judge grants a restraining order if the petitioner can show that the petitioner or child is in "imminent danger of further abuse" by the respondent, and the respondent represents a "credible threat to the physical safety of petitioner or petitioner's child."
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