The Case of Wendell Brian Mansel


On September 27, 2013, Wendell Brian Mansel, of Annapolis, Maryland, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, criminal solicitation to commit a felony and the use of a firearm in commission of a felony.


Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman argued for an 18-year sentence - the maximum amount of prison time allowed under Virginia law. Mansel received eighteen years, with twelve suspended and six to serve.


The prosecution argued that in 2012 Wendell Mansel met with a man in Leesburg, VA with the intent of hiring him—or one of his associates—as a contract killer. This contact was to plan and execute the murder of Karen, Mansel’s wife of 33 years.


Instead of arranging the hit, the contact reached out to the Leesburg Police Department. Law enforcement officers began a sting operation with an undercover officer posing as a killer-for-hire.


A 40-minute video, played during the sentencing hearing, revealed a man who wanted his wife dead. It was the cornerstone of the state’s evidence and a crushing blow to the defense. The tape revealed Mansel’s fear that Karen “…would take everything.”


While the defense attorney argued for the case to be viewed through the “filter of mental illness” (Mansel claims to suffer from PTSD), Commonwealth Attorney James Plowman said the evidence of Mansel’s actions caught on tape could not be refuted.


“It was very important for the court to see the details Mr. Mansel was willing to go through,” Plowman said. “At every level he is involved in specific details about how this plan is to be executed.”


On Aug. 3, 2012, Mansel had arrived in Leesburg with a gun, cash and valuables as a down payment for the murder. He was subsequently arrested. His girlfriend, Cynthia Lisa Mills was arrested and prosecuted in Maryland where her part in the crime took place.