A man charged with murdering another in his East Peoria home last December allegedly schemed from jail to kill his victim’s widow and stepson.
Charges filed Thursday accuse Kenneth Ohler, 48, of asking two fellow Tazewell County jail inmates to explode or set fire to the home of the late Michael Dixon, 60, while his two intended victims slept.
Ohler will be prosecuted on two charges each of soliciting for murder and soliciting for aggravated arson. He is scheduled to be tried next month for fatally shooting Dixon.
“This is one of the worst things you can do in jail,” a prosecutor said before Tazewell County Circuit Judge Steven Kouri granted her request for a $3 million bond on the solicitation charges. He’s been held on $1.5 million bond in the murder case.
Ohler’s reason for allegedly wanting Dixon’s family members killed was not detailed in a prosecutor’s court affidavit accompanying the new charges.
They came after one inmate reported in early November that Ohler had offered to provide $1,000 to bail him out of jail and $3,000 more to “blow up” the home in the 800 block of Springfield Road, the affidavit stated.
That inmate produced a note he said Ohler gave him that discussed bonding him out of custody.
The same day that inmate came forward, jail officers searched a cell that had been occupied by a second inmate. They found four notes referring to Ohler, the home’s address and a “job,” the affidavit stated.
Several days later that inmate, who had just finished his jail term, told police that in October Ohler had offered him $3,000 to “burn down” the home occupied by a mother and her son, the affidavit stated. The inmate said he had exchanged notes with Ohler with plans of “setting (him) up to get half the money up front, and then not complete the job,” the affidavit stated.
Confronted with the notes, Ohler acknowledged his handwriting was on some of them but denied knowing “exactly” what they were about, the affidavit stated.
Ohler, who had recently moved to Peoria from New Mexico, is charged with fatally shooting Dixon last Dec. 29 when Dixon and his wife found him standing in their living room and told him to leave.
When Ohler produced a handgun, Dixon asked, “What are you going to do, shoot me?” according to his wife. Ohler fired one shot, killing Dixon as his wife fled, a court affidavit stated. Police found Ohler unconscious in the room with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Police said Ohler apparently had come to the home in search of Dixon’s stepson, a co-worker of Ohler’s before Ohler was fired from his job. The stepson had obtained a court order of protection against him several days earlier.
About a half-dozen of Dixon’s family members and friends have attended every court appearance Ohler has made on his murder charges since they were filed last January, after he recovered from his gunshot wound.
He’s next due in court on Dec. 21 on the solicitation charges, all Class X felonies. Ohler’s murder case is set for trial on Jan. 22.
Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin