A 26-year-old allegedly tried to hire a hitman on the darkweb to kill a colleague “when she discovered they were both having an affair” with the same man.
Whitney Franks (pictured above), 26, allegedly posted an advertisement offering to pay a hitman £1,000 to kill a “woman has caused a lot of problems.” A BBC journalist spotted the ad and forwarded it to the police, resulting in Franks’ arrest.
In court, Prosecutor Andrew Copeland read part of the advertisement:
‘I’m looking for the murder of a woman. I have £1,000 and I am willing to pay more. This woman has caused a lot of problems for myself and others. Please can you help sort this out.’
The advertisement also included the address and Facebook profile of Ruut Ruutna, one of Franks’ colleagues at Sports Direct. According to the prosecutor, Franks had started “an affair” with her store manager, James Prest, in 2016. Ruutna joined the team in 2017 and also started having “an affair” with Prest.
Prest, who had a “partner” of his own and two children, would sneak out to see the women. “By 2020 James Prest would, while his partner and children were in bed, frequently leave his house and go to Ruut Ruutna’s house,” the prosecutor said.
One encounter with Franks concerned Prest, the court heard. On August 17, 2020, Franks confronted Prest about his relationship with Ruutna at the Milton Keynes Sports Direct. During the conversation, Franks brought up Prest’s “sneaking around at night.” In court, the prosecutor asked, “how did she know about James Prest going around Ruut Ruutna’s at night?” The women did not speak with or about each other.
Later, Franks emailed Prest, asking for another chance with him.
“I can give you the entire world James, if you can give me a chance I think you could be the happiest you have ever been in your life. I truly mean it. I hope you’re doing well inside and out. I have been trying to sort out my anxiety. I have found some things that could help, so I’m going to give them a go.”
One day after Franks had emailed Prest for another chance, a BBC journalist found the advertisement on the darkweb. The police brought Ruutna to a safe house and questioned her about the potential hit. She told investigators that she “had a hunch” about who was responsible for the darkweb ad.
Police arrested Franks on September 10, 2020, for soliciting murder. The court heard that Franks had created an account at a cryptocurrency exchange and purchased Bitcoin, only to resell it the next day. Franks admitted accessing the darkweb but claimed she never tried to hire a hitman.