The 2017 murder of a Montgomery County man at his snake-breeding farm was solved last week with the arrest of his wife and a man she enlisted to help, according to court documents filed with first-degree murder charges.
Lynlee Jo Renick, 31, of Columbia was arrested at noon Thursday and Michael K. Humphrey, 35, of Jefferson City was arrested a few hours later, the Missouri State Highway Patrol stated in a news release.
Ben Renick was shot several times June 8, 2017, including one bullet from a gun pressed against his head, Trooper Nathaniel Schaffer wrote in a probable cause affidavit used in the charges filed Wednesday in Montgomery County.
Lynlee Renick claimed at the time that she found her husband’s body in the snake barn of Renick Reptiles, Schaffer wrote. The timeline in his affidavit then jumped to January 2019, when a man in a sexual relationship with Lynlee Renick at the time of the killing told Schaffer that she had confessed to him several times that she shot her husband and had tried to kill him once before as well.
Humphrey is alleged to have been present and to have helped clean up evidence of the crime.
The pair had a child together and the relationship continued until about mid-2019.
The man was interviewed by law enforcement in August 2017 but denied knowing anything.
He told investigators that Lynlee Renick’s Columbia spa, Ascensia, was in financial trouble, that Ben Renick knew his wife was withdrawing money needed to keep it going and “had the financial means to take her children away from her,” Schaffer wrote.
As he described Lynlee Renick’s confessions, the man told Schaffer that she would put their phones in a separate room to prevent eavesdropping and told the same version when he would ask her to tell it again.
The plotting to kill Ben Renick took place mainly at Ascensia in the Cherry Hill shopping plaza, Schaffer wrote. The spa is now closed.
The man said Lynlee Renick planned it with a co-worker who has not been charged, and enlisted Humphrey, a former boyfriend, who would come to the spa for a massage, he wrote.
The first attempt on Ben Renick’s life, the man told Schaffer, was when Lynlee Renick spiked a protein drink with “an enormous amount of narcotics.”
Investigators obtained a search warrant for the Renicks’ Facebook accounts and confirmed the story of the protein drink from messages between them. The search warrants also confirmed that Ben Renick knew of his wife’s financial problems.
On the day of the killing, Schaffer wrote, Humphrey picked up Lynlee Renick at the spa and the employee who plotted with her sent text messages from her phone, which remained behind, along with Humphrey’s phone, to cover their movements.
The evidence at the scene indicated that Ben Renick knew his killer because of where he was found, how he was killed and that nothing was stolen, Schaffer wrote.
The plot initially was for Humphrey to kill Ben Renick while ostensibly viewing the snake barn, but he asked Lynlee Renick to do it because he didn’t want her to be angry if she later regretted it, Schaffer wrote.
Humphrey watched the killing, and picked up most of the shell casings but missed some that were not immediately visible, he wrote.
Lynlee Renick and Humphrey then returned to Ascensia, where she showered and her co-worker bagged up her clothes, which Humphrey disposed of.
During an interview with Humphrey, Schaffer learned Lynlee Renick’s co-worker had contacted Humphrey a day after Lynlee Renick’s interview with Troop F to let him know police sought to interview him.
From that time, Schaffer wrote, Humphrey was considered a suspect.