Two men from South Carolina are currently serving sentences in federal prison after a court found them guilty of conspiring to murder the ex-wife of one of the defendants with a mail bomb.
The two men are 32-year-old Michael Young Jr. and Tyrell Fears, who is Young’s 23-year-old nephew. They are in the custody of the Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia.
Young was already in prison for a prior attempt to murder his ex-wife, Shauna Clark, and killing Robert Bell, her father.
In 2007, he shot the woman and her father, who died attempting to protect her. The event took place at a parking lot in Columbiana Centre, a shopping mall.
In 2011, the court sentenced Young to 50 years in prison. At the time, John Delgado, his defense attorney, stated that Young was remorseful and accepted responsibility for his actions.
Murder Plot Using Darknet-Sourced Mail Bomb
The South Carolina District Attorney’s Office claimed that Young illegally had a cellphone while in custody.
He used the phone to facilitate the illicit sale of marijuana, which he acquired from suppliers on the dark web and from California.
Young would then send the drugs to his partner. A man whom the prosecutor identified as Vance Volious collected the drugs and distributed them.
The two partners, while running their drug operation, came up with the plan to murder Young’s ex-wife.
The plot involved purchasing explosives on the dark web, which they intended to use to commit the murder.
Police Initiate Undercover Bust
According to investigators, Young began shopping for explosives in February 2017. In prison, he used a contraband cellphone to access the dark web.
Young then got in touch with a vendor on AlphaBay, a darknet market that was later seized by law enforcement in summer 2017.
The user claimed to be a foreign distributor of explosives—a role used by a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who was working undercover.
The FBI agent identified himself as Marcus and specified that he was from Russia.
Young and the agent communicated for months on the dark web before they agreed on how “Marcus” would deliver the explosive.
Based on the prosecutors’ report, Young paid the agent via Bitcoin to send a mail bomb to an accomplice’s house.
He further instructed the agent to send the reshipment label with his ex-wife’s address to Volious’ residence.
The FBI created a fake bomb, in which they put some explosive residue that could explode without harming anyone. The authorities delivered the bomb via mail.
By this time, the FBI was monitoring Volious and Fears. There were 40 agents in several cars and two Cessna planes who were trailing them.
Fears received the labels from Volious in June 2017. He placed the bomb inside the mail and delivered it to a post office. An inspector then went to the post office and intercepted the package.
In April 2018, the court convicted Volious and Young for four offenses.
The convictions included conspiracy, the transportation of an explosive with the intent to commit murder, sending a non-mailable explosive in the attempt to commit murder and transporting an explosive while committing another felony.
The evidence that the authorities presented against Young indicated that his intent to murder his ex-wife was an obsession. Young’s ex-wife had remarried and settled in Florida.
Will Lewis, the assistant district attorney presenting this case, explained that the conspirators rigged the bomb so it could explode once the targeted victim opened the mail.
Lewis recommended that the judge would give Young the maximum prison sentence, explaining that he acted cruelly and sadistically.
Clark, Young’s ex-wife, also presented her statement to the court saying that her children, always eager to open up packages, could have been killed in doing so.
She also added that she suffers from the effects of psychological trauma involved with being the intended victim of a mail bomb.
Young’s prison term was set to 43 years, while Fears got 10 years after admitting that he carried an explosive while committing a felony.
Young will begin serving his time after completing his 50-year sentence.
The prosecutors stated that Volious’ sentence for his participation in the plot would come later.
District Court Judge Michelle Childs presided over the case.
She stated that she made her ruling in consideration of the fact that Young appeared to be determined to murder his ex-wife, even though he was already in prison after the first attempt.
Young told the judge that he was remorseful and took responsibility for his actions.