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‘Hot Mess Express’: Inside a Scorned Airman’s Wild Plot to Off Her Husband for Insurance Cash

‘Hot Mess Express’: Inside a Scorned Airman’s Wild Plot to Off Her Husband for Insurance Cash

A member of the U.S. Air Force schemed to kill her estranged husband for a six-figure life insurance payout by poisoning his energy drinks and snacks—and tried to enlist the help of the man’s ex, who was actually in cahoots with police, derailing the entire hit.

The surreal plot is laid out in a Jan. 5 opinion filed in the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, which affirmed a 10-year sentence handed down in 2020 to Airman 1st Class Katelyn Lucille Day, 29, for attempted premeditated murder; attempted conspiracy to commit premeditated murder; solicitation to commit murder; attempted conspiracy to commit murder; and attempted wrongful possession of fentanyl. In addition to a decade behind bars, Day, who was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in northwest Louisiana, was demoted to the lowest rank available and dishonorably discharged from the service.

Day’s intended target, identified in court records by the initials “TD,” was her then-spouse Tyler Day, 28, his family confirmed to The Daily Beast. With his ex-wife in prison, Tyler Day, who was not in the Air Force and was unable to be reached, has moved on and is “doing great,” his mother, who asked not to be named, said on Wednesday.

“Tyler’s doing amazing, raising his child on his own,” she told The Daily Beast in a brief phone interview.

The doomed couple met in the spring of 2017 at “an outpatient treatment program” in Shreveport, Louisiana, and were married in July, according to the filing, which was first reported by Task & Purpose. Day had joined the Air Force in April 2016, and worked as an aircraft mechanic and sheet metal technician, according to her LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, she held down jobs as a server at Applebee’s, a Cracker Barrel hostess, and an assembly line worker.

After they tied the knot, Day added Tyler as a dependent and took out a $100,000 life insurance policy on him through the military, the filing says. But their relationship quickly began to unravel.

“Unbeknownst to [Day], [Tyler] was also in an on-again, off-again relationship with JM, with whom he was expecting a child,” the filing states, noting that Day learned of her new husband’s extramarital relationship two weeks after getting hitched. Later that month, JM gave birth to the child Tyler had fathered.

In December 2018, Day herself gave birth to Tyler’s second child. But any joy was tempered by financial problems the two were having. Day’s Air Force salary ran just north of $2,100 a month, and Tyler was making minimum wage at a part-time job, says the filing. They made an unsuccessful attempt at marriage counseling, and in February 2019, Day told Tyler she wanted to separate.

That March, Tyler moved out. He was ordered by the court to pay child support, but “was inconsistent in doing so,” according to the filing. The following month, Day filed for divorce.

With a child under the age of 18, Louisiana law required the pair to live apart for 365 days before a divorce could be granted. During this period, Day “continued to experience money issues because of the lack of consistent child support from [Tyler] and because she was the sole supporter for their child,” the filing states. “Additionally, Appellant was concerned that [Tyler] would take their child from her and she did not want [Tyler] to have custody.”

United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals

Looking for solace, Day connected on Facebook with JM, who was also having issues with Tyler over custody, child support, and visitation of the child they shared. Although things between Day and JM were “rocky” at first, the two soon “bonded over [their] problems” and began a four-person Facebook Messenger group, focused on Tyler, called “Hot Mess Express,” says the filing.

“At one point in the conversation, [Day] stated, ‘if something happened to [Tyler] I could use that life insurance money,’” the filing explains.

Day told the others that she had cut Tyler out of her will, but he was still covered on her life insurance.

“That 100,000 would be real nice,” she wrote, according to the filing. “Pay bills off and get a car we need. Put the rest away for [our child] later… A lot of the bills are ones [Tyler] racked up that I got stuck with.”

In a subsequent private Facebook chat between JM and Day, JM said she “hated” Tyler.

“Me too,” Day responded.

“Like I really hate him,” replied JM. “I want to hit something lol.”

To this, Day suggested, “Have someone kill him…then we won’t have to deal anymore. I’ll give you half his life insurance.”

Eight months into her separation from Tyler, Day explained to JM that she wouldn’t be eligible for the insurance payout if Tyler died after the divorce became final. In mid-November, Day messaged the Hot Mess Express group and asked, “Y’all known [sic] an undertaker? I’m not kidding. To the person that hooks it up I’ll split the life insurance.”

Four days later, Day contacted an ex-boyfriend on Facebook Messenger and asked if he could help her with something.

“This is some shady stuff so if you’re not about it let me know before I tell you and you judge me,” Day wrote.

The boyfriend, who is identified in court filings as “SP,” responded that it depended “on how shady.”

“Do you know a hit man or something,” wrote Day. “And yes I’m serious.”

SP was suspicious, pointing out to Day that “this is Facebook and I doubt u will be talking about that on here. Plus u have my number why wouldn’t u have texted me.”

Leaning on an apparently novel, if wholly inaccurate, legal theory, Day replied, “Because my text can be subpoenaed and I can delete Facebook.”

Day and SP then moved their conversation over to Snapchat, where Day implied that she was hoping SP could kill Tyler for her. When SP demurred, Day approached an Air Force civilian employee identified in court filings as “JJ,” saying she needed her “husband to go away.”

“I will give you $50,000, half of the insurance money, to kill him,” Day said.

“I’m not going to kill your husband,” JJ replied. “Get someone else to do that… There is no perfect crime. Don’t you watch reality TV crime shows? You are going to get caught.”

However, Day persisted, the filing states. While on duty a couple of days later, Day handed JJ a piece of paper with Tyler’s social security number, phone number, and address, along with his work address and the times he traveled to and from work. Later, Day called JJ and asked him to buy her some livestock dewormer, which JJ had allegedly suggested as a “possible method” to kill Tyler.

JJ refused. But Day kept trying.

“I’m trying to find someone to do it or I’ll have to do it myself,” Day told JJ in a subsequent exchange, referring to Tyler in code as a “bush in front of her house that she wanted removed.”

On November 30, 2019, Day texted JJ and said she finally had a plan. Shaken, JJ told Day he was going to call the police.

“Oh wow,” Day texted in response. “That’s a real change in position. I won’t talk to you anymore then.”

JJ immediately called the local sheriff’s office and told them what had happened, telling cops that he believed Tyler’s life was “in danger.” Deputies then contacted Day and questioned her about the alleged plan to kill Tyler. She explained it away, saying she and Tyler were going through a divorce with “come custody issues,” and insisted that she had truly wanted JJ to help her clear a bush in the yard, not to assassinate Tyler.

Undeterred, Day soon contacted someone she had known previously, identified only as “TL” in court filings, and asked him to help her kill Tyler.

“My most recent thought was putting a bunch of muscle relaxers and pain pills in a drink of his…Will it work?” Day asked.

“No clue,” said TL. “I mean, there are plenty of ways to overload the system for failure.”

TL told Day that he could “teach you how the body works…anything further is up to you,” says the filing.

Ultimately, TL said he’d agree to educate Day on how she could poison Tyler in exchange for a retainer of $100 a month.

“You won’t call the cops on me right?” Day asked TL. “I just off [sic] the phone with [someone] because [they] wanted to snitch.”

Day, said TL, was “talking to the wrong [people] then.”

“Like if you’re serious [about] this u need to go get a prepaid phone and I’ll get one too,” he told her.

But by this time, agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) were closing in on her. They interviewed Tyler’s ex, JM, who agreed to become a confidential informant in hopes of ensnaring Day before she could act.

After JM asked Day how her plan was progressing, Day said she was considering lacing Tyler’s drink with a muscle relaxer and pain killers, according to the filing.

“If we put that in a drink before he was to drive…..??” Day wrote to JM in an online message.

JM agreed to help Day procure the necessary drugs, drinks, and snacks with which to poison Tyler, and the two made a plan to meet up at a Walmart about 65 miles away from Barksdale AFB.

“You’re not, like, going to turn this conversation and me over to the cops right?” Day asked JM, unaware that JM was already working for AFOSI special agents. “That’s the last thing I need after the other person calling the cops on me.”

Day said she was going to wear gloves so that “my prints won’t be on anything,” and promised to give JM $10,000 to $20,000 of her expected insurance payout. Day told JM she planned to buy a car with her share. On Dec. 18, AFOSI agents gave JM a small bag of white powder that she was supposed to tell Day was fentanyl.

When the pair linked up, JM handed Day the clear baggie in exchange for $100.

“Don’t touch it,” said JM, who was secretly recording the conversation. “Don’t do anything. Put on gloves,” before asking Day how she planned to do it.

“I was going to put it in that [drink] and be like, ‘Stay hydrated,’” said Day, explaining that she planned on killing Tyler three days later, before she flew out to visit her family.

It would take about six months for the insurance claim to pay out, said Day, who brought the faux fentanyl to her home on base and stashed it in her freezer.

Armed with the recording, AFOSI agents got a search warrant and that evening, raided Day’s house. In the freezer, they found the bag of white powder Day believed was fentanyl, as well as a pair of rubber gloves.

Under questioning, Day told the agents that she “did not know how fast the ‘fentanyl’ would kill [Tyler], but she felt sure [Tyler] would be dead by the following Monday,” says the filing. “At the end of the interview, [Day] admitted her plan was to murder [Tyler].”

Day remains jailed, her lawyer, Maj. Matthew Blyth, told The Daily Beast.

“Unfortunately, I do not comment on pending cases, and A1C Day’s appeal is not over,” Blyth said.

The aborted caper constitutes a “highly unusual sequence of events,” according to retired U.S. Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton.

“Normally, Air Force bases are among the safest places on earth,” Leighton told The Daily Beast.

Barksdale AFB has experienced an unexplained uptick in murders over the past few years, which generated a great deal of concern among higher-ups. Leighton, a former squadron commander, said he once dealt with an attempted murder by an underling during his 26-year military career. But never has he seen anything like this.

“Such serious crimes seldom occur on U.S. Air Force installations—no matter where we are in the world,” Leighton said. “Air Force leadership has to take a hard look at why these crimes are occurring at Barksdale and eliminate as many contributing factors as possible… As a leader in such a situation you question everything—including your ability to lead.”

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