Throwing good money after bad
A love-scorned Southeast Texas man who gave his alleged Russian bride more than $57,752, a wedding ring and other gifts has been indicted in a murder-for-hire plot after agreeing to pay $50,000 to kidnap the young Russian woman and bring her to the United States from Kiev, Ukraine, so he could kill her or have her killed.
David Sartin’s plan is laid out in a federal indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas, but the entire story detailing how Sartin came to enact his deadly plan was found by The Examiner on the Web site www.internetscamswatch.com.
In 2009, Sartin, 49, of Hankamer, Texas, near Baytown, met Elena Barykina on the Web site www.dream-marriage.com and began a relationship with her – even traveling to the Ukraine to spend time with her and take her on trips through Europe. The Web site bills itself as the perfect place for men to find the perfect bride.
“Russian brides are not just a dream – they can be a happy reality for you,” boasts a statement on the Dream Marriage homepage. “Dream Marriage is not a mail order brides site, but rather a dating site to meet beautiful Russian women and sexy Ukrainian brides to be.”
But while Sartin’s “dream marriage” to Barykina began in promising fashion with affection and reciprocated love, according to his online comments, over the course of a two-year period his dream turned into a nightmare.
“I met her the first time in Kiev March of 2010,” Sartin wrote. “During all this time from then to now I have grown to love this person with all of my heart and it was not hard. I have taken her to many cities and countries and have paid her way to many singing contest and performances along with visa cost and travel for her alone when I could not fly to her. I have treated this girl as a princess and as my wife as she has promised great love and marriage.
“I have supported her as a good husband would do and have showered her with many gifts of gold and diamonds and even a complete wedding set that she wore and can see in many of her advertisement posters for the concerts. I have just returned from Ukraine and it was not a pleasant trip for me and the cost to come home early was not good either. Do (sic) to some documents Elena had sent to me about a school in Illinois I have learned of another man and when asking of this was ashore it was nothing, that he was just a friend and performer. During this trip I confronted Elena of this person and told her I had met him and spoken with him then the truth came out. I was devastated.”
Photos form Sartin’s MySpace profile show him and Barykina together in Russia in a setting that looks to be a church. They are joined by a child and looked to have been taking part in a religious ceremony of sorts. The three of them appear happy and are smiling.
But in September 2010, Sartin began posting on numerous Internet sites that his relationship with Barykina was a sham and he alleges that he is just one of many of her victims. He said he called the police in Russia, but he did not speak Russian and was unable to file a report.
He even posts their text conversations where she supposedly asks him for money – in one case $17,000. On June 20, 2011, she requested $6,000 to sustain her while attending a school in Russia.
“Elena Barykina (06/20/2011 4:43:36 AM): give me answer as fast as possible,” states one of the posts Sartin listed online.
Another purported post from Barykina sent Dec. 27, 2011, after the two have had an apparent falling out, states, “Dear David … It was hard days for both of us … And I want that you know that I still respect you. Even I sometimes become so angry … Yes we met each other in that strange agency where I had to work. I was translator of another many letters of another many girls and these girls have persuaded to load my information on the site. I didn’t search any relationship there and you knew this. What is way I said to you – let’s went and spoke in Yahoo or Skype and we did this. I respected and saved your money. And I run away from this agency as fast as I could to do it.”
But by then, Sartin had already hatched his plan to kill Barykina and a man in New York, according to government records. He had contacted someone who turned out to be a confidential informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and asked them to help him carry out his plan. He told the informant “that Ms. Barykina would be killed, and stated that she would develop a case of lead poisoning,” states a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner.
“On Dec. 8, 2011, the informant was instructed to send the defendant an e-mail inquiring whether the defendant was still interested in finding such a person,” the affidavit states. “The defendant replied back that he was. As a result, an undercover ATF agent, Wesley Williamson, contacted the defendant by e-mail and telephone during the second week of January 2012. The defendant spoke with Agent Williamson by cell phone, a facility of interstate or foreign commerce. He used the code word ‘package’ for Elena Barykina, and indicated that he wanted Ms. Barykina kidnapped and delivered to him. Agent Williamson told the defendant that he would kill her if the defendant could not do it. On Jan. 31, 2012, Agent Williamson talked with the defendant by telephone about the defendant hiring him to ‘eliminate’ a second victim, who was a Russian male that lived in New York. The defendant acknowledged that he wanted him taken care of as well. In a telephone conversation with Agent Williamson on Feb. 2, 2012, the defendant admitted that he knew what he was doing was illegal as soon as money exchanged hands. He told Agent Williamson that he would pay him $50,000 with a down payment of half – $25,000 – to kidnap Ms. Barykina from the Ukraine. He also told Agent Williamson that the reason for hiring him to kidnap Ms. Barykina was that she ‘screwed’ him by scamming him and gave him nothing in return. On Feb. 17, 2012, the defendant spoke with Agent Williamson by telephone and requested that a third person ‘be taken care of’ because they were going to be a witness against him in a civil proceeding he instituted in the Ukraine against Ms. Barykina. The defendant also e-mailed photos of Ms. Barykina and the third person to Agent Williamson so that he would get the correct persons.
“On March 6, 2012, the defendant met with Agent Williamson in person at Sutherlands in Beaumont, Texas. Agent Jauregui was present in the parking lot of Sutherlands doing surveillance for the meeting. The defendant disclosed to Agent Williamson that he was picking up supplies to complete the room he was building to confine Ms. Barykina. There were sheets of plywood and 2x4s in the back of the defendant’s truck. The defendant gave Agent Williamson $25,000 and they formed the plan to bring Ms. Barykina to the defendant. Agent Williamson asked the defendant if he wanted him to come back to kill her and he told him that he wanted to personally take care of her.”
The undercover agent continued to keep in contact with Sartin and a final meeting was set-up for March 23, 2012, at Sutherland’s. Sartin was instructed to go into the store and buy a 30-gallon container and rags. Upon his exit he was taken into custody. A search of his truck revealed an envelope containing the second $25,000 payment, a .45 caliber pistol and a stun gun. At his home, officers found more than 25 firearms, handcuffs and records showing his international travel. Officers also found the room Sartin said he would use to confine Barykina once she was kidnapped and brought back to the U.S.
Sartin is currently facing prosecution for conspiring to kill, kidnap, maim or injure a person in a foreign country. If convicted, Sartin faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the kidnapping charge and a minimum of five years for the firearms violation.
An e-mail sent to Barykina seeking comment about her relationship with Sartin and her knowledge about the murder-for-hire plot did not receive a response by press time. An attempt to reach Barykina on her phone number in Russia went unanswered.