Two charged in Pierce County murder-for-hire plot

TACOMA, Wash. -- Pierce County prosecutors say a body found last month in a remote Gig Harbor ditch was the product of a murder-for-hire plot.

Jacqueline Ray and Luis Barker were charged Monday with first degree murder for the July 11 killing of 33-year-old Leon Bauchman, jr.

Prosecutors say Ray, 49, was Bauchman's mother in law. Bauchman and Ray's daughter had a history of domestic violence, and investigators say Ray feared he would eventually kill her daughter. Investigators say Ray approached Barker, a 37-year-old who had recently been released from prison, to help get rid of her son-in-law.

Ray allegedly agreed to pay Barker $10,000 to kill Bauchman, and police say on July 11 he did just that.

Ray told police she called Bauchman on the day of his murder and invited him to her house. Prior to Bauchman's arrival, Barker and another man came to the house with a handgun and duct tape, according to prosecutors. Ray, Bauchman, Barker and the third man were inside the home when Ray decided to walk outside. After she left the house, she heard "a commotion followed by a gunshot," prosecutors say.

She told investigators she heard Bauchman moaning in pain and pledging to leave Ray's daughter alone. Ray grabbed a tarp, which Barker and his friend used to wrap Bauchman up before putting him into Ray's minivan. The duo drove away with the body, and when they returned a short time later Ray asked Barker what would happen if police found the body, to which Barker allegedly said, "they're not gonna find him."

The next night, a couple walking their dog found the body in a ditch in Rural Key Peninsula. An autopsy determined the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the back, which was not instantly fatal, according to prosecutors.

Ray initially denied any knowledge of the murder, but police say on August 1 she admitted to her role in the crime. Wearing a recording device provided by police, Ray met with Barker on August 7 and asked why he shot the victim in her home. Barker allegedly said the original plan was to kill him in more remote area, but Barker shot him when he lunged for the gun.

Barker was arrested on Friday, and both he and Ray pleaded not guilty on Monday. Bail was set at $1 million for Ray and $3 million for Barker.

Police are still searching for the unidentified third man who helped carry out the murder.

"Murder-for-hire only works in the movies," Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a news release. "Both defendants will be held accountable for this grisly killing."