CHESAPEAKE, Va. — It wasn't the most thought-out murder-for-hire scheme.
Cory Abshire wanted his estranged wife out of the picture last year, so he hired a friend — another sailor — to kill her in her Chesapeake apartment, according to court documents.
When it came time for Marcus Hofferber to kill the 26-year-old mother of two, however, Abshire decided to drive his friend to and from the murder scene, documents said. And when police questioned Hofferber about his movements the night of the slaying, he said he and Abshire drove several miles out of their way to buy cigarettes near the wife's home.
Rachel Abshire was killed Jan. 19, 2013, inside her apartment off Johnstown Road, according to court documents.
"The movie 'Dumb and Dumber' comes to mind," said Robert Hepner Sr., stepfather of Rachel Abshire and "daddy" to her two sons, ages 2 and 5. " 'Dumb and Dumber' could have done a better job than they did."
Cory Abshire, 28, of Norfolk pleaded guilty Thursday in Circuit Court to one count of first-degree murder. Under a plea agreement, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison with all but 25 suspended. He was ordered to have no contact with his children.
Hepner and his wife, Princess, said they wanted a longer sentence but supported the plea agreement.
"We have to accept what we can get," Robert Hepner said. "We just know we wanted it over; that the boys need to move on."
Hofferber, 27, pleaded guilty in June to one count each of first-degree murder, conspiracy and armed burglary. He agreed to help prosecutors with their case against Abshire. He is awaiting sentencing.
Abshire and Hofferber were petty officers second class who worked as fire controlmen, a Navy spokesman said. Rachel Abshire also served in the Navy from 2005 to 2007 and received training as a fire controlman.
Cory Abshire initially told police he was not responsible for his wife's death and claimed he was at Hofferber's house in Virginia Beach the night she was killed. Hofferber confirmed Abshire's alibi but told police they had left his house at one point. He told detectives they went to a 7-Eleven in Chesapeake and then drove near the victim's apartment.
Detectives told Hofferber they believed he was involved in her death, and he eventually confessed. He said Cory Abshire offered him $25,000 in insurance money to do it. He said he agreed because he was in debt.
Hofferber said he initially stabbed Rachel Abshire with a knife he brought to the apartment. He later assaulted her with a larger one he grabbed from the kitchen.
"The brutality of her death was in the sole discretion of Marcus Hofferber," said Capital Defender Doug Ramseur, Abshire's attorney. "There was no discussion about how she was to be killed."
Rachel Abshire's mother said Cory Abshire didn't have to kill her daughter. She noted that they had been separated for two years; he could have just divorced her.
"He could have just walked away," Princess Hepner said. "He already had walked away."
Ramseur noted that neither his client nor Hofferber had a criminal record before this incident.
"Maybe that's why it doesn't seem to have been very well thought out," he said.