Judge: Fur plot murder suspect won’t stand trial

Cleveland — A federal judge has ordered charges dismissed against a self-proclaimed animal rights activist charged with trying to recruit a hit man to kill a random person wearing fur after the woman was found incompetent to go on trial because she is mentally ill.

Meredith Lowell, 28, of Cleveland Heights, has been undergoing mental evaluation in a federal medical center in Fort Worth, Texas, since her arrest in 2012.

Judge Patricia Gaughan said she based her decision after reviewing two reports filed in federal court in Cleveland by forensic psychologist Leslie Powers, who concluded Lowell was unlikely to be restored to competency based upon her disease, but she did not pose a danger to herself or the community.

The court’s order also bars Lowell from possessing firearms. At the time of her arrest, investigators recovered several handguns, rifles and shotguns at her residence.

The FBI began investigating Lowell in 2011 after they learned someone later identified as Lowell had used a Facebook account in an attempt to hire a gunman to murder someone wearing fur.

“I would like to create an online community on Facebook which would allow me to find someone who is willing to kill someone who is wearing fur,” Lowell wrote under the alias Anne Lowery.

The FBI used a covert online employee to engage Lowell in exchanging Facebook messages to learn the extent of Lowell's plans to solicit someone to kill a person wearing fur because Lowell felt the fur trade was illegal.

At one point, Lowell wrote the covert employee, "I see nothing wrong with liberating animals from laboratories and fur factory farms since soldiers liberated people from Nazi camps in World War 2," according to a federal affidavit filed by the FBI.

In another exchange with the cooperating online employee, Lowell expressed being upset by the Cleveland Aquarium, which she said kept animals in what she said was equivalent to being kept in a bathtub.

Lowell said she was willing to pay up to $850 for the murder for hire of someone older than 14, which she wanted to occur at a Cleveland Heights library near a playground.

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