Steven Kraft’s Ex-Wife and Her Husband Accused in His Grisly Killing

Steven Kraft’s Ex-Wife and Her Husband Accused in His Grisly Killing

Just before 4 p.m. on April 28, 2020, Steven Kraft did as he often did on Tuesday afternoons. He left his job at a deli in Marlboro, N.Y. and headed across the Hudson River to Beacon, where he picked up his two middle-school-aged children from his ex-wife’s house. He caught up with them over a fast-food dinner before returning them to their mother’s home around 7 p.m.

That was the last time anyone saw Mr. Kraft alive.

His disappearance remained a mystery for more than three years. But on Thursday, Mr. Kraft’s ex-wife, Jamie Orsini, and her husband, Nicholas Orsini, were arrested and each charged with one count of carjacking resulting in death and one count of conspiracy.

The Orsinis are accused of concocting and executing an elaborate scheme to murder Mr. Kraft, 34, and dismember and burn his body, according to a criminal complaint filed in Federal District Court in White Plains, N.Y.

The plan involved the use of multiple burner phones, stealing and dumping Mr. Kraft’s car and repeatedly traveling long distances in an attempt to throw the authorities off their scent, according to the complaint. Mr. Kraft’s body has not been recovered, according to investigators.

If convicted, the couple could face life in prison or the death penalty.

“The Orsinis denied Kraft’s family — including Kraft’s children with Jamie — the dignity of having a proper burial,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “This complaint shows that no matter how well you cover up your heinous act, law enforcement will not relent until they have uncovered your crimes.”

In the days leading up to Mr. Kraft’s death, the Orsinis began preparing to kill him and cover their tracks, according to the complaint.

They made multiple trips to a Walmart and a Home Depot in Fishkill, N.Y., where they bought burner phones, a 10 foot by 100 foot tarp, duct tape, and a Tyvek suit and boots. They paid for all of their purchases in cash, according to the complaint.

They also made a “dry run” of the circuitous route that they intended to take to dispose of Mr. Kraft’s car: driving around Beacon, over a bridge crossing the Hudson River, and into Newburgh, investigators said.

By the time Mr. Kraft arrived at the Orsinis’ house in Beacon on April 28, according to the complaint, the Orsinis had rehearsed and were prepared to follow through with their plan.

They activated their burner phones and tailed Mr. Kraft throughout the evening while he spent time with his children. At some point after he brought them home, the authorities believe, the Orsinis killed him.

Just before 9 p.m., Mr. Orsini, 35, drove Mr. Kraft’s car along the same route he had rehearsed only days earlier and left it on a street corner near the waterfront. He then walked about a mile to a gas station, where he used a $100 bill to purchase an energy drink before using a burner phone to call a taxi back to Beacon.

Over the course of the next several days, the Orsinis bought additional burner phones, made suspicious Google searches, including “is galvanized steel fire-proof,” and purchased various materials that could be used to chop up and burn a body, according to the complaint, including 31-gallon galvanized steel trash cans, an angle grinder, an ax and 16 bundles of firewood.

On several occasions, the couple left their personal phones at home and drove more than 120 miles each way to visit Mr. Orsini’s family in Amsterdam, N.Y., north of Albany. On May 2, Mr. Orsini texted his mother to ask if she had told anyone he was visiting her upstate.

Ms. Orsini, 36, also texted her ex-husband’s phone in the days after his disappearance to ask about their children’s report cards — a strange move, according to the complaint, because “they did not typically text about their children’s academics.”

She also called the police in Marlboro to ask about Mr. Kraft’s whereabouts.

On May 4, the police discovered Mr. Kraft’s Toyota Camry parked, with tickets, at the same location authorities believe the Orsinis had left it, according to the complaint. The police impounded the car that day, according to the complaint. On May 7, the authorities believe, the couple returned to Newburgh to check on the vehicle.

Over the course of their investigation, the New York State Police, local police departments and the F.B.I. reviewed surveillance footage, store receipts, cellphone GPS data, call and text records, Google search data, evidence found in the Orsinis’ home and more.

“I hope this shows the community that we are relentless when it comes to these types of cases,” said Joseph Merla, an investigator with the New York State Police. “We worked tirelessly for three years to find some kind of closure and justice for Steven Kraft and his family.”

Not much is known about the nature of Mr. Kraft’s and Ms. Orsini’s relationship, but Mr. Merla said the couple “definitely had their fair share of family court issues.”

A 2016 appellate court decision related to the custody of their two children details a yearslong effort by Ms. Orsini to obtain full custody and a similar battle waged by Mr. Kraft to be awarded unsupervised visitation. The judge in the case denied both requests.

At the time of Mr. Kraft’s disappearance, he had custody of his children on the weekends and on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to the complaint.

The Orsinis moved from Beacon to Amsterdam in the months after Mr. Kraft’s disappearance, Mr. Merla said. Mr. Orsini most recently worked at a bar, and Ms. Orsini was a stay-at-home mother to her four children, including two with Mr. Orsini.

Child protective services was notified of the Orsinis’ arrest and opened an investigation into the family, Mr. Merla said.

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