West Fork Woman Pleads Guilty In Pipe Bomb Murder Plot

Shirley Mugley

Shirley Ann Mugley, a West Fork woman accused of plotting to kill her ex-husband with a homemade pipe bomb, pleaded guilty in Washington County Circuit Court, receiving a sentence of 18 years in prison, officials said.

Mugley, 41, pleaded guilty on Monday (June 30) to conspiracy to commit capital murder, criminal possession of a destructive device and criminal use of a prohibited weapon, said John Threet, Washington County prosecuting attorney. She is out on bail and has been ordered to report for prison on July 30, Threet said. She also received a 20-year suspended sentence, he said.

Mugley was arrested in July 2013 following what police called a failed attempt to kill her ex-husband with a pipe bomb, with  the help of former boyfriend Andrew Cox. She was later released on $50,000 bond, with Cox being released on $5,000 bond, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

Cox is set to appear in Circuit Court on August 12, Threet said..

Washington County deputies said Cox told police he went with Mugley to buy materials to make the pipe bomb. Cox and Mugley made the bomb in the basement of Mugley’s house on the 14000 block of Arkansas 265 South, according to a preliminary arrest report.

Cox had a previous romantic relationship with Mugley, the report states.

Police said they obtained video of Mugley buying a cell phone that matches the phone that was attached to the pipe bomb, the report states. According to the report, police recorded a phone call between Cox and Mugley during which Mugley discussed the pipe bomb and the conspiracy to kill her husband.

The pipe bomb was found in April in the Illinois River in rural Washington County, according to the sheriff’s office. Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder said Cox threw the pipe bomb in the river after he “chickened out.”

While out of jail and awaiting trial, Mugley was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and later on suspicion of driving on a suspended license and having no proof of insurance, court records show. Her license had been suspended after she was arrested in Washington County in the DWI case. Her most recent arrest happened May 21, police said.

Meanwhile, during a mental evaluation on the pipe bomb charges, Mugley said she built a pipe bomb to kill herself and never meant to harm her ex-husband, court documents state. She tried to kill herself with the bomb at the grave of her three-week-old child, the evaluation states.

“The bomb was only ever to kill myself. I knew where and when. I was hoping it would be such a mess that they wouldn’t have to see me,” Mugley told the psychologist in the evaluation. “Usually I would go up to the cemetery where my baby is buried. It would be on my way home. I put the bomb under my seat in the truck. I would call the phone and nothing.”

After the bomb did not detonate, Mugley said she got tired of trying and told Cox to take it apart and get rid of it.

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