July 11, 2002 at 4:31 PM EST - Updated July 1 at 8:55 AM
FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) - A man has been charged with trying to have his estranged wife's parents and brother killed by a hitman. After the plot failed, he had the hitman shoot him in the leg to win sympathy from his spouse, prosecutors said.
Lee Vogelsong, 32, of nearby McComb in northwest Ohio, and the man he allegedly hired, Earl Miller, 26, of Defiance, were indicted on Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and intimidation of a witness.
Prosecutors haven't commented on a motive or said why the alleged plot was never carried out. However, Hancock County Prosecutor Robert Fry said the conspiracy "is related to Vogelsong's relationship with his wife."
Hancock County court records showed that Vogelsong's wife, Sharon, filed for divorce on April 8 after three years of marriage.
The couple have year-old twins, a boy and a girl.
According to the indictments, Vogelsong hired Miller, who reportedly works for Vogelsong's lawn care business, to kill his wife's parents, Howard and Rita Sharp, and brother, Adam Sharp, all of Dayton.
The indictments said Miller drove to Dayton in mid-June, apparently to check out the Sharp residence.
Howard Sharp told The (Toledo) Blade that Dayton police alerted the family.
"They placed a few police officers outside our house to protect us," he said Wednesday. "We were pretty scared and upset by the whole thing."
After the alleged scheme failed, Vogelsong had Miller come to his house on June 29 armed with a 9 mm pistol, the indictments state.
When Vogelsong answered the door, Miller shot him in the leg, then fled, Fry said.
Vogelsong then lied to deputies about the possible identity of the gunman, according to the indictments.
"The shooting was an attempt to gain the sympathy of Vogelsong's estranged wife," Fry said.
Hancock County authorities learned about the alleged murder-for-hire plot from an anonymous tip relayed through the Defiance County sheriff's office.
Vogelsong also is charged with obstruction of justice and could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison if convicted of all counts.
Miller also is charged with felonious assault with a firearm, and his charges carry a maximum 26-year sentence.
Both men were being held in the Hancock County jail pending arraignment Wednesday.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)