Unbeknownst to the Steeles, the man at the center of the crime, handyman Larry Fairfax, had been a longtime FBI informant when the Steeles hired him last December. Steele had been recuperating from a near-fatal heart operation at his home in Idaho. It’s believed the FBI had re-enlisted Fairfax to spy on Steele when he told them where he was working. However, when Fairfax was unable to turn up anything incriminating, the feds resorted to more drastic measures.
Fairfax claims that Steele had offered him $25,000 to murder Mrs. Steele and her mother. According to Fair fax, this amount and “maybe even more” would be paid after Steele collected on the life insurance. Conveniently, because the mother-inlaw resides in Oregon, the “crime” qualified for federal jurisdiction under the FBI.
Mrs . Steele has finally brought to the table the piece of evidence that has the federal prosecutors scrambling for yet another new motive: There is no life insurance. The Steeles had canceled it after the last child left home a few years ago. Another perplexing point is the mystery man who rode with Fairfax to the Oregon home of Mrs. Steele’s mother to inspect and possibly install the pipe bomb discovered under Mrs. Steele’s car.
Mrs. Steele’s attorney Wesley Hoyt received an anonymous tip naming the accomplice as James Maher, a neighbor and friend of Fairfax. When Hoyt and client played the tip for federal prosecutor Tracy Whelan, she admitted that Maher was the ride-along friend but claimed he had done nothing wrong. Maher is the brother of prominent HBO television talk show host and comic Bill Maher.