The Incredibly Complicated Story Of The Woman Who Tried To Hire A Hitman To Murder Her Fiancé — And Why She Claims She Did It

Photo: Wausau Daily Herald
What Happened To Jessica Strom? Details Woman Hired Someone Murder Her Fiancé John Schellpfeffer And Claims He Abused Her

Jessica Strom spent over two years in prison for putting out a hit on her fiancé. After her release, she's claiming he regularly abused her.

Strom met her fiancé John Schellpfeffer, a former Lincoln County district attorney — and 17 years her senior — at a bar in 2007, and they hit it off immediately, the Wausau Daily Herald reports. They began a dysfunctional relationship and despite their constant arguing, the two got engaged. 

In 2014, Strom met with a man and asked him to murder her soon-to-be husband in exchange for money and sex. Little did she know, the hitman she tried to hire was a police informant and her attempt to get Schellpfeffer killed landed her in jail for over two years.

Now, 37-year-old Strom is out of prison and wants to tell the full story of her relationship with Schellpfeffer.

In a series of exclusive interviews with USA TODAY, Strom explained that Schellpfeffer abused her. She decided to come forward with the alleged abuse after Schellpfeffer was accused of sexual misconduct.

He was convicted of disorderly conduct for kissing and groping a secretary against her will. She had previously kept the abuse to herself and simply hoped things would get better.

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After Strom and Schellpfeffer got together, she says he became controlling. Their dramatic fights landed them in court multiple times over the next few years.

At first, it was only anger-fueled arguments. Then, the abuse turned sexual.

"He was grooming me and taking advantage of me — and I let it happen," Strom said

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The two had been together for a little over six years when she noticed their relationship had gotten "weirder," she told USA Today. He had begun asking her to partake in various sexual acts, including one involving a third person. Strom said she turned them all down but Schellpfeffer had other plans.

Strom and Schellpfeffer had been bar hopping one night when she realized she had been drugged. She had taken just a sip of a vodka cranberry but felt "out of it."

Schellpfeffer suggested they go home but instead, he escorted her to an adult entertainment store. Schellpfeffer led her to a plastic chair in the back of the store where she began to black out, she said. All she remembers is an unfamiliar man performing oral sex on her while Schellpfeffer watched.

Strom said she and Schellpfeffer “didn’t discuss it at all" afterward.

"I think because I was so confused.” 

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As a result of that night, walking through snow is an emotional trigger for Strom, who said she prevented the nightmare from happening again by vomiting when Schellpfeffer and another man approached her at the sex shop.

That was the final straw.

On Feb 26, 2014, Strom contacted a former classmate, whom she told she had a "business proposal" for. The man decided to meet with her and Strom explained that she wanted him to kill Schellpfeffer. She told him that Schellpfeffer was "a bad person who's done bad things to her and to others " court documents report. 

The man got in touch with police and set up another meeting with Strom the next day, which police monitored.

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At the coffee shop where Storm met with her former classmate, she detailed how and when to murder her fiancé. She told the man to schedule a fake appointment at Schellpfeffer's home office and said to shoot him upon arrival. Strom even mapped out his office. In exchange for the hit, she said she would pay him $1,000 and offered to have sex with him.

Strom was then arrested and eventually convicted of solicitation of first-degree homicide in August 2014 and sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. She was let out a year early on good behavior, though she claimed in court that the plan was "drunken, stupid, silly venting" and that she was never serious about it.

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"I had nothing to gain by (the victim's) death," she said. "Only everything to lose."

In an interview on 20/20, Schellpfeffer said he still loved Strom even after she tried to have him killed.

The couple's story was featured on an episode of ABC's 20/20, in which Schellpfeffer claimed Strom was abusive and blamed her actions on mental illness. 

Strom was not a fan of the episode, which she said was "entertainment, not news," USA Today reports. She explained that it was one-sided and denied Schellpfeffer's mental illness theory. 

"I just think I wasn’t dealing with what happened to me," she said. 

Strom was dragged into the news in December after she tried to get a restraining order against Schellpfeffer, whom she claimed was stalking her. She was found not credible and the restraining order was dismissed.

When contacted by USA Today, Schellpfeffer denied Strom's allegations.

"This allegation of sexual assault is another form of abuse where she is trying to hurt my reputation both personally and professionally," he said.

Now, Strom says she's in a healthier engagement and is trying to move on from her past.

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Sarah Gangraw is a travel-addicted cat lady who lives on black coffee and cheese. She has a degree in journalism and writes about all things news, entertainment and crime. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter — she's occasionally funny.