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Image: Meredith Lowell
Department of Justice via AP
Meredith Lowell, 27, has been charged with soliciting murder in what federal authorities say was a plot to kill someone wearing fur as part of an animal rights crusade.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 2/22/2012 8:05:20 AM ET 2012-02-22T13:05:20

An Ohio woman who compared animal-welfare work to the liberation of World War II concentration camps has been charged with soliciting a hit man to fatally shoot or slit the throat of a random fur-wearer, federal authorities said.

Meredith Lowell, 27, of Cleveland Heights, appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, where a magistrate judge ordered her held by the U.S. Marshals Service pending a hearing next week, court records show. One of her defense attorneys, Walter Lucas, declined comment when reached by phone after the court appearance.

Investigators say the FBI was notified in November of a Facebook page Lowell created under the alias Anne Lowery offering $830 to $850 for the hit and saying the ideal candidate would live in northeast Ohio, according to an FBI affidavit filed with the court on Friday.

"I would like to create an online community on facebook whi8ch [sic] would allow me to find someone who is willing to kill someone wearing fur toward the end of October 2011 or early November 2011 or possibly in January 2012 or February 2012 at the latest," she wrote according to Cleveland.com.

'Bring a gun'
The affidavit says an FBI employee posing as a possible hit man later began email correspondence with Lowell, and she offered him $730 in jewelry or cash for the killing of a victim of at least 12 years but "preferably 14 years old or older" outside a library near a playground in her hometown.

"You need to bring a gun that has a silencer on it and that can be easily concealed in your pants pocket or coat. ... If you do not want to risk the possibility of getting caught with a gun before the job, bring a sharp knife that is (at least) 4 inches long, it should be sharp enough to stab someone and/or slit their throat to kill them. I want the person to be dead in less than 2 minutes," says an email reprinted in the affidavit.

According to Fox 8 Cleveland, the affidavit also alleges Lowell used computers at the Cleveland Heights Library to arrange the hit man.

She told the undercover employee she wanted to be on site when the slaying took place so she could distribute "papers" afterward, the affidavit says. She hoped to be arrested so she could call attention to her beliefs and to get out of the home she shared with her parents and brothers who eat meat and eggs and use fur, leather and wool, investigators said.

Reprinted emails also say Lowell wrote that she sees nothing wrong with "liberating" animals from fur factory farms and laboratories since "soldiers liberated people from Nazi camps in World War 2."

She also criticized a new aquarium in Cleveland — saying "it is wrong for animals to be taken against their will and put into their (equivalent) of a bathtub" — and research by the Cleveland Clinic, where she said animals should be "liberated and put somewhere where they are not tortured."

Jennifer Kaden, who co-founded the Cleveland Animal Rights Alliance with Amy Wagar Cinch, told Fox 8 Cleveland that she did not know Lowell.

"I'm appalled and horrified that somebody would think that committing violence is going to further a cause that is all about non-violence," Kaden told the TV channel.

"Humans are animals too, and we want everyone to live in a peaceful environment, not just non-human animals," Wagar Cinch added.

Lowell faces a hearing next Tuesday to determine whether she will be given the opportunity to post bail or be detained without bond pending resolution of the case.

The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

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