Wilkins waives probable cause

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 18, 2003

WINTON – Sylvia P. Wilkins, an employee of Rivers Correctional Institution (RCI) arrested July 28 in connection with an alleged plot to murder four co-workers, waived her probable cause hearing last week in Hertford County Superior Court.

In addition, Wilkins had her $600,000 secured bond ($150,000 for each of four counts of solicitation to commit a felony – first degree murder) cut in half to $300,000. However, as of yesterday (Monday), Wilkins remained behind bars in the Hertford County Jail.

If she is released on bond, part of the conditions are that Wilkins is forbidden to be on RCI property or communicate in any way with any of the victims.

Her trial date is pending in Hertford County Superior Court.

According to Lt. Steven Stephenson, Special Investigations Supervisor at RCI, Wilkins, 44 of 103 Mt. Olive Road, Windsor, was employed as a vocational/computer teacher at the prison. She had been employed there for two years. The RCI inmate whose assistance was allegedly solicited by Wilkins was disciplined by prison officials for the role he played in the murder plot. His name was not released.

Other than confirmation that the four intended murder targets were either co-workers or supervisors of Wilkins, those names were not released. Stephenson also could not comment on how long the murder plot was ongoing, stating that he immediately contacted the Hertford County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Department of Justice when he first learned of the situation on June 24.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan, Department of Justice Special Agent Jerry Gaughran and SBI Agent Dwight Ransome met with Stephenson on June 30 to begin to sort through the details of the alleged felonious act. That joint investigation uncovered a plot that Wilkins apparently orchestrated. Evidence gathered at this stage of the investigation reveals Wilkins contacted a RCI inmate in order to find out the name of a source outside of the prison that was capable of carrying out the murder plot.

After gaining that evidence, Sheriff Vaughan, working closing with RCI authorities, had warrants drawn for Wilkins’ arrest. She was arrested, without incident, on July 28 at the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office after being summoned to Windsor to answer some questions.

&uot;Without the swift action by Lt. Stephenson and the full cooperation of (RCI) Warden Willie Scott, this investigation would not be the success it is at this stage,&uot; noted Gaughran in an interview with this newspaper on July 29. &uot;Warden Scott realized the severity of this case. He didn’t know how broad this solicitation for murder would turn out to be and neither did we.&uot;

He continued, &uot;This was all handled in a very professional manner. The state, federal and local authorities worked very well together. The level of professionalism shown between the various agencies investigating this case is the finest I’ve ever worked with.&uot;

Ransom echoed those thoughts by saying, &uot;This quick arrest would have not been possible without the joint cooperation between the different agencies. We at the SBI have worked plenty of criminal solicitation cases over the years. This was a bit different because of the nature of where the solicitation took place, inside a prison.&uot;

Vaughan thanked everyone for the assistance his office received in investigating the case. He especially praised the efforts of Stephenson and Scott for quickly defusing a plot that, in his words, &uot;could have turned very, very ugly.&uot;

The investigation continues into the murder plot.