Colorado mom admits trying to have ex killed amid custody dispute

Posted at 4:40 PM, August 3, 2023 and last updated 8:15 AM, August 4, 2023


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Court TV) — A Colorado yoga instructor accused of trying to hire a hitman to kill the father of her child has pleaded guilty to multiple charges.

Vanessa Rae Lavaty, 34, of Colorado Springs, pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal attempt to commit manslaughter and retaliation against a witness or victim. The charges stem from a plot in which she tried last year to get her live-in boyfriend, Marty Jorgensen, to find someone willing to kill Timothy Hanes.

Hanes and Lavaty were once engaged and share a 2-year-old daughter. Hanes sought to spend additional time with the girl, and he and Lavaty had a custody hearing looming.

Instead of finding a killer, Jorgensen went to Colorado Springs police. An affidavit obtained by Court TV indicated that he had become concerned that if he didn’t act, Lavaty would find someone else to perform the deadly task.

An undercover officer, posing as a mechanic willing to kill Hanes, met with Jorgensen and Lavaty on May 17, 2022.  Jorgensen wore a hidden recording device at the meeting, during which the officer accepted money in exchange for the murder.

Lavaty told the supposed hitman that she had no preference for how Hanes was slain, but she said she did not want their daughter present when the murder took place.

Investigators said Lavaty agreed to pay the undercover officer $4,000 for the murder. She gave him $500 in cash and planned to put the rest on her Discover Card.

Lavaty was arrested days before the upcoming custody hearing, authorities said.

According to the court records, Jorgensen told police that Lavaty had asked him for months to help find a hitman, but he did not initially take her seriously. After multiple requests, however, he realized she was.

Lavaty was initially charged with solicitation, conspiracy and criminal attempt to commit first-degree murder. If convicted of the charges, she would have faced up to 24 years in prison.

The charges to which she pleaded guilty were part of a plea deal to avoid going to trial on Aug. 7. Lavaty faces between four and 16 years in prison.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 28.