By Clarence Walker, Investigative Journalist, Houston Texas
Posted: March 20, 2008
If you was a cold-blood criminal how much you willing to pay a hitman to kill someone? Well maybe that depends on the amount of money you have and how much the assassin will charge to carry out a contract.
Throughout existence of mankind people have hired killers to murder others in exchange for sex, money, relationships, promise of marriage, favoritism, gold, pearls, diamonds, cars, and even high-tech video games.
But if you had none of the above to offer and you are practially broke with less than $500 in your pocket and desperately needed someone murdered for whatever reason where in the U.S. or anywhere on foreign land can you find a professional hitman to execute a bloody job for a pitiless fee?
Thats a tough question, isn't it? Since you don't know here is the answer. According to a recent crime study if you need someone murdered in Australia you can find an assassin for as low as $380!
What a bargain. Life must really come cheap for contract killers in Australia. They must be awfully desperate to snuff lives for such a pittance amount.
A recent study of 163 attempted and actual murders conducted between 1989-2002 by The Australian Institute of Criminology and South Australian's major crime investigation branch showed the average price for a 'hit' is $12,700, but, again, if your budget is tight as a drum a person can have a contract murder carried out for $300-$400.
This research is the first national study of the typology of contract killings in Australia.
The study further showed the majority of contract killings in Australia is usually done by angry spouses and jilted lovers.
But evidence is clear the professional criminals involved with organized crime order the most successful 'hits'.
"The most common motive or reason for hiring the services of a hit man was in relation to the dissolution of an intimate relationship", Toni Makkai, acting director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, said in a statement to foreign news reporters.
Makkai pointed out the fact the most common motives ranged from preventing a person from pursuing another relationship, revenge for another having affair, eliminating a partner to shack up with a lover or gain custody of children.
Other motives were money, silencing a witness, revenge, drugs and organized crime rivalry.
The average pay of 'blood money' to a 'hitman' for a contract in Australia was $12,700, the lowest amount documented $380, the highest $76,000.
Based on the research evidence documented from crime cases indicated powerful weapons was used for the contract murders. In fact guns were five times more likely to be used in contract killings than in domestic type murders.
"If you want the job done you are going to use the most deadly weapon avaliable", Makkai said.
Among several types of homicides to go down in Australia contract killings make up only a small percentage of all murders. During the four-year study period 'hits' accounted for only two percent of murders.
But the number of 'hits' is slowly rising with an average now of seven attempted murders and five carried out each year. In earlier studies of contract murders by Australian organized crime group it showed the OC groups were more sophisticated and willing to pay large amount of money for a 'hitman'.
The amount for a organized crime-type murder contract often varys based on the following factors:
Who is the hitman, his reputation for success and not being caught, fees, how many victims he has eliminated in the past, availablitiy for future assignments. These kind of hitmen are in demand and they charge a hefty fee.
A professional hitman will take the following into consideration prior to accepting an assignment:
(1) Identity of the person to be killed, his/her background, where they are, their daily habits and routines, and,
(2) Any police or security available, news media attention, including whether the client wants the target killed in a specified manner(for example, to make the killing appear as robbery, accident or suicide).
(3) The difficulty and danger of successfully carrying out the 'hit'.
Other factors in carrying out a contract killing varys from one person to another whose desire to have a 'hit' done.
Australian Institute Criminology researcher Jenny Mouzos and South Australian police Detective Inspector John Venditto reported their findings out of 163 cases that 69 victims were killed (34 unsolved) and 94 where the attempt failed due to an informant.
Aside from organized crime contracts Mouzos and Venditto's investigation cited failed relationships between current or former spouses as motivation to find a contract killer. In this group, "63 percent of males were the instigators", says Venditto.
Both Venditto and Mouzos agreed the organized crime-related contract murders succeeded because of more money the groups have to spend to find professional hitmen which allows them to avoid the critical pitfalls that trap others with less money into most likely being caught early in the scheme by putting the word out among freinds, associates and total strangers.
When criminals operate through low-level channels to find a hitman on the streets they run the risk of having an informant contact police for reward money or gain favors in the criminal justice system.
Venditto and Mouzos exclusive study identifed three class of hitmen (1) amateurs (2) semi-pros (3) professionals.
"The amateurs, Venditto says, typically are hired to kill a spouse or intimate partner". He characterised amateurs as "impulsive and disorganized and frequently caught".
Professional 'hits' were carefully planned and the assassins left few clues behind. But some were caught. Many victims of drug-related 'hits' may simply disappear without trace thereby this type of crime could be significantly higher than statistics indicated, the study concluded.
In closing as a veteran crime journalist I've written many stories about contract murders. The lowest amount was a October 1981 case in Houston Texas at the La Quinta Inn Motel involving Tommy Dunn. Dunn needed a hitman to kill his father named A.D. Dunn over a relationship the elder was having with his son's ex-girlfriend.
Famous Texas death row inmate Thomas Miller EL now awaiting a new trial in Dallas Texas had introduced Tommy to a desperate guy who can only be characterized as an amateur 'hitman'.
When Dunn asked the 'hitman' how much he charged to kill his father, the 'hitman', paused for seconds, then said, "$800.00" Dunn looked puzzled. This guy fee was dirt cheap. He thought...."something's fishy".
He asked him again. Are you sure thats your price? The 'hitman' said, "yes". Dunn was stunned. He looked at the 'hitman' and said, "Hell, $800, isn't bad, even if you missed him! He didn't missed. He killed A.D. Dunn and multiple errors befelled him. He was soon captured. While in jail the 'hitman' committed suicide and Tommy Dunn was sentenced to 99 years in Texas prison.
The irony in the Dunn 'hitman' case and the amateur 'hitmen' in Australia who have charged $380 to do a hit-- this is for those who needs a 'hit' done- You get what you pay for. Prison time.
Any comments: Journalist Clarence Walker can be contacted at Mafia101@myway.com or 713-616-0385