When Cottage Grove police were summoned to an alleged suicide on a Sunday evening in November, it didn’t take long for them to figure out something was amiss.
The victim, Amy Louise Allwine, lay dead on the bedroom floor at her home on 110th Street S. Beside her left elbow was a 9mm handgun, opposite from where the bullet entered the right-handed victim’s head.
“Victim’s hands revealed no soot, no gunpowder stippling, no unburned gunpowder stippling, and no blood on either hand,” according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday that charges her husband, Stephen Carl Allwine, 43, with second-degree murder.
The complaint, filed in Washington County District Court, alleges that Stephen Allwine took a deep dive into the dark web, that nefarious portion of the internet that search engines don’t index.
It was there, identified as “dogdaygod,” that he began searching for someone to kill his wife.
Investigators also uncovered evidence that he wanted out of his marriage. He was having at least two extramarital affairs with metro-area women, arranged through the Ashley Madison website.
Amy Allwine’s life also was being threatened from the dark web by a supposed woman named Jane who instructed her in an untraceable e-mail: “Commit suicide. By the time I am done you will want to end it anyway, so why not do it now?”
The investigation showed that Stephen Allwine had searched the web for specific addresses and family information in July, the day before Jane sent the e-mail threatening, “I will come after your family,” if Amy Allwine told police about it.
Allwine, an internet technology specialist, worked from his basement. Detectives who executed a search warrant found “a large amount of computer equipment, which appeared to be very sophisticated and technologically advanced,” the charges said.
Investigators learned that he bought the weapon found beside his wife’s body and that Allwine was inconsistent about times he said he came and went from the house. They found evidence that Allwine spent thousands of dollars in bitcoin, an online currency, on the dark web to pay for illegal services, goods and transactions.
Digital evidence obtained from the FBI included information from a dark website named Besa Mafia, where people solicit murders and assaults for hire. The username dogdaygod was listed as having contacted the site.
“It should be noted that the defendant was not truthful with law enforcement regarding his activity on the internet, as he denied knowing about hacking or the Dark Web, yet information gleaned from examining defendant’s computer revealed that defendant had accessed the Dark Web as early as 2014,” the charges said.
Besa Mafia told dogdaygod — later identified as Stephen Allwine — that killing someone would cost $5,000 and to make the “hit” look like a car accident would cost $6,000. Eventually he was told the recommended murder was death by sniper, which would cost $12,000, the charges said.
Allwine advised Besa Mafia about his wife’s whereabouts, revealing she would be traveling to Moline, Ill., in March 2016 for a dog-training competition, the charges allege. He said if the killing couldn’t be accomplished in Illinois, she was going to Atlanta a few weeks later, and “the job could be done then,” the charges said.
Amy Allwine was owner of Active Dog Sports Training, a business that closed after her death.
Ultimately it was decided that Amy Allwine would be killed at her house and the killer then would set fire to it. When that didn’t happen, Besa Mafia told dogdaygod that the hit man had been stopped by police and taken to jail. No such arrest occurred, police said in the charges, but Besa Mafia continued to solicit money from dogdaygod.
‘Devil’s drug’ involved
Apparently scammed, Stephen Allwine then went onto another dark website to inquire about buying Scopolamine, a “devil’s drug” known to erase memory, rendering a person incapable of exercising free will, the charges said. An examination of Amy Allwine’s blood after she was killed showed a concentration of Scopolamine 40 times what would be prescribed in a therapeutic dose.
Investigators confronted Allwine about nine faint bloodstains and smear marks outside the bedroom where his wife’s body was found. When asked about that, Stephen Allwine said he “had no explanation about why human blood on the floor of the home would have been cleaned up.”
Allwine also told investigators his wife had a $700,000 life insurance policy.
Several law enforcement agencies were involved in the investigation, including Cottage Grove and Woodbury police, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and other state and federal agencies, said Capt. Peter Koerner of Cottage Grove police.
“I’ve never seen a case this complicated,” said Fred Fink, who manages the criminal division for the Washington County attorney’s office. “Most of the time we’re dealing with human witnesses, but this one required a significant amount of electronic and scientific evidence.”
Stephen Allwine, arrested Tuesday, remains in the Washington County jail.
Bail was set Wednesday at $1 million with no conditions or $500,000 that would require GPS monitoring, no travel outside Minnesota, and no unsupervised visits with the couple’s 9-year-old son.
Allwine’s next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 13.