What started as a catch-up phone call between two old friends quickly turned sinister when one announced their devious plan.
The events that happened next led one woman to conspire with the cops, while the other conspired to murder. Here’s what went down…
High School Friends
Typical of high school friends, Tara Lambert, 35, and her friend Ginny Cheadle drifted apart after graduation. But years later, Lambert had a problem she thought Ginny could help her with so she called her up.
While on the phone with Ginny, Lambert voiced that a woman named Kellie Blevins Cooke was a “problem” for her. She was Lambert’s husband Brandon’s ex and the biological mother of Lambert’s two stepdaughters.
Even though Brandon and Kellie had a custody agreement in place, somewhere along the way, things turned sour. According to reports obtained by True Crime Daily, Kellie wanted to modify the custody arrangement with a series of legal battles ensued. All battles that extended way beyond the walls of a courtroom.
Kellie and Lambert exchanged angry texts and there were reports of harassment from both sides. But in their most recent fight, Lambert felt she had a secret weapon: Kellie’s old high-school rival, Ginny Cheadle.
After catching up during their phone call, Lambert had a special request for Ginny. She wanted her to make an anonymous call to Kellie, telling her to back off, or else. After doing as Lambert wished, a few months later Ginny receives another call from Lambert.
This time, a message indicated she wanted more help from Ginny than just a threatening phone call. To her surprise, Ginny was not reluctant and she set a devious plot in motion to “take care” of Lambert’s issue for good.
Over the next few days, Lambert and Ginny ironed out the details for a hitman to kill Kellie. Lambert casually ordered up a murder and one week after their initial text, Lambert plans to finalize the hit.
There was only one problem: Ginny had alerted the police to Lambert’s plan, and Lambert had no idea. Ginny even arranged a meeting with an undercover police detective posing as a hired hitman arranging Kellie’s murder.
Meeting In Squad Car
During their first meeting in July 2015, Lambert provided a $125 down payment to the undercover police detective. She opened the back door of a squad car and is crystal clear about what she wants done to Kellie. “What’s going on with you, I hear you have a problem?” the man asks as Lambert proceeds to order up a murder.
“I need her away. Gone,” Lambert told the undercover detective posing as a hitman. “Just put her in a chopper, you know like one of those lumberjack chopper things.” When the man asked, “So if [Shawn] is there you want him to go too?” Lambert replied, “Yeah, I mean, I really don’t mind.”
After that disturbing conversation, even without an actual confession, prosecutors felt they had more than enough to go to trial. Lambert, also known as Tara Arbogast, was arrested and charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated murder. One count was for the hit she tried to place on her husband’s ex and one was for Kellie’s husband, Shawn.
For the trial, Lambert hired attorney James Kingsley, a man with a reputation as a passionate defender. Kingsley announced in court that Lambert was the one entrapped by the state of Ohio and Ginny Cheadle.
He claimed that once Ginny presented the opportunity, Lambert didn’t have the mental capacity to say no. Kingsley said, “Lambert doesn’t know what’s appropriate for a situation. She’s childlike. Life’s a fantasy to her.”
Yet despite his convincing argument, after only 40 minutes of deliberation, the jury decided that Lambert was guilty on one count of conspiracy to commit murder. She was found innocent, however, of conspiracy to kill Kellie’s husband.
But in June 2017, the Circleville Herald reported: “Tara Lambert’s conviction for conspiracy to commit aggravated murder has been overturned by the Ohio 4th District Court of Appeals.” “Lambert’s (new) lawyer, Samuel Shemansky, filed an appeal that claimed the original indictment was flawed because it did not specify what overt act Lambert had committed in the conspiracy.
In an interview she did with Inside Edition, Lambert blamed her conviction on jurors paying more attention to her than the evidence. “They were worried about my wardrobe rather than what was really going on,” she said of the jury. Lambert sued her original attorney for providing ineffective counsel, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Then, in February 2018, after an appeals court threw out Lambert’s criminal conviction because of a paperwork error, prosecutors re-indicted her on charges that she attempted to hire a hitman to kill a couple she viewed as enemies. This time, Lambert didn’t wear any eye-popping outfits in court.
“Perception is paramount,” Shemansky said. “We will work professionally, diligently, and ethically in our defense.” Kellie Cooke said that she and her husband had hoped the Ohio Supreme Court would reverse the appeals court so that a second trial wouldn’t be necessary.
Impact On Their Lives
They said just knowing that someone wanted them dead changed their lives forever and little things like a stranger’s knock on the door set them on edge. “She put my family through hell,” Kellie said of Lambert. “We just want justice to be done.”
In July 2018, Lambert pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated murder and she was sentenced to five years in prison. In an interesting twist, Ginny became best friends with Kellie, the same woman Lambert wanted to kill.