BOISE – A North Idaho lawyer standing trial on federal charges that he hired a man to kill his wife sent more than 14,000 online messages to women he met through an online dating website before his arrest.
Edgar Steele’s wife, Cyndi Steele, told jurors in Boise on Friday that those messages were part of his research into the Russian mail-order bride business. Cyndi Steele knew, she said, that her husband had told one woman he was not in love with his wife and that he was looking for “a girl he couldn’t live without.”
Edgar Steele told 25-year-old Tatyana Loginova he had “produced the greatest children in the world, but I deserve more. I will never have another American woman, never again,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Traci Whelan said in U.S. District Court in Boise on Friday.
Steele’s lawyers say the murder plot was really the work of Larry Fairfax, who was arrested after authorities found a pipe bomb under Cyndi Steele’s car. Fairfax didn’t mention the bomb when he told the FBI about the plot and agreed to secretly record Steele.
Prosecutors contend Steele wanted his wife killed so he could be with Loginova.
The jury saw emails between Steele and Loginova on Friday.
Whelan said she reviewed emails with Cyndi Steele last month to avoid surprising and embarrassing Steele at trial.
But, Cyndi Steele said Friday, “I knew what they were before I went in … I wasn’t going to be embarrassed because I know about them.”
Whelan noted that Edgar Steele could have made up any identity and told the women anything to gain information. Instead, he described his life to Loginova, sent her pictures of his home and the family’s newborn kittens and even mentioned the couple’s son, Rex.
Cyndi Steele told jurors she wasn’t concerned.
Under cross-examination from defense lawyer Robert McAllister, Steele said she often helped her husband with the research.
Whelan said Edgar Steele viewed his wife’s dream – her horse farm – as “a symbol of wasted money.”
Said Cyndi Steele, “He knew in reality it was not a money-maker, but he knew it was my dream and supported it.”
Fairfax has said he rigged the bomb under Cyndi Steele’s car so it wouldn’t explode, but experts said Friday that the device still had that capability.
Sgt. Mike Kittilstved, head of the Spokane County bomb squad, called the device “the largest pipe bomb that I’ve dealt with.”
Fairfax has pleaded guilty to two firearms charges related to the bomb and is to be sentenced after Steele’s trial.
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