Murder for hire plot exposed in Levy County

One Levy County inmate has kept law enforcement busy the past two weeks, including a recent discovery of a murder for hire plot.

Phillip D. Quillen, 77, of Chiefland, was originally arrested on June 24 when the Levy County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) linked him to a December 2020 arson fire. On July 14, detectives learned of his plot to allegedly hire a person to kill four people he believed had wronged him, including the arson victim.

On Tuesday Levy County authorities charged Quillen with conspiracy to committ murder.

Three of the four people were confirmed to be Levy County locals, LCSO Lt. Scott Tummond said, adding it wasn’t too difficult to crack the murder for hire plot.

“Let’s just say he wasn’t too quiet about how he was going about looking for this,” Tummond said. “The jail is small and the walls have ears.”

Quillen’s path to prison started last December south of Chiefland when he used an accelerant in an attempt to set an occupied home on fire and burned a car in the yard. In February, the suspect broke into the same home and damaged more than $5,000 worth of property.

Tummond said Quillen was linked to the crimes using evidence collected from the scenes. Quillin’s DNA was in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database for crimes he commited years earlier in Indiana. When confronted with the arson and home break-in forensics, Quillen confessed.

As for the new charge of conspiracy to commit murder, Quillen offered $5,000 for each person targeted and an additional $5,000 if the murders were succesful.

“Phillip Quillen is probably going to be a resident of our detention center for quite a while,” Tummond said.

Quillen is being held at the Levy County Detention Bureau. His original charges were for arson of a dwelling while occupied, burglary and felony criminal mischief.

Quillen’s bond was set at $1.375 million for the original charges, but he has not yet been arraigned for the murder plot.

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