Man Paid to Have His Wife Killed Over Lack of Sex: Lawyers

A Pennsylvania husband who hired a hitman through a porn site to kill his wife, allegedly because she wasn’t sexually available enough, is now claiming “diminished mental capacity” at his trial for her murder.

Edward Heck, 56, paid Kenneth Wayne Smith $10,000 to kill his wife, Sonja Rowe-Heck, in August of 2018. 

Smith and Heck met on Motherless, a site which hosts extreme fetish pornography and snuff videos. Smith had posted in the comment section to a video that he had a fetish for killing, and Heck replied, “How about my wife?”

According to local news, the two men had been conversing on social media for about 18 months before the planned murder.

Text messages reviewed by authorities included those in which Heck said he fantasized about someone raping and strangling his wife. In messages to Smith, Heck stated that he hated his wife, called her offensive names, and complained about the fact the two did not share a bedroom.

On the day of the murder, Heck brought Smith to his home and helped him hide in the cellar. While there, Smith brutally murdered Heck’s two dogs. At about 1:50 a.m. on August 16, Heck texted Smith saying, “the time has come.” 

Sonja Rowe-Heck’s body was found the following day by her daughter.

Kenneth Smith pleaded guilty in January 2020 to first-degree murder and other charges, and confessed that he had hit Sonja with a hammer while she slept before slashing her throat. He was sentenced to life in prison, but died shortly after incarceration due to cancer-related illness.

Meanwhile, the prosecution has theorized that a lack of sex caused Heck to reach a breaking point. First Assistant District Attorney Martin Wade claimed during a hearing in December 2021 that because the couple slept in separate bedrooms, sexual frustration led to heightened anger and a “desire to punish her.” The prosecution cited text messages between Heck and Smith where Heck complained about a lack of sexual satisfaction, as well as additional evidence showing Heck was adulterous.

Heck’s trial began today at a courthouse in Lycoming County, where his attorney has stated he is planning to argue he had diminished mental capacity. During the hearings last week, the court gave Heck’s lawyer permission to call an expert witness to testify on Heck’s mental health.

According to Penn Live, Dr. Barry Zakireh, a Philadelphia-based forensic psychologist, concluded that Heck suffered from severe mental disorders and impairment in cognitive behavior. The Judge has since ruled the report inadmissible because it called into question whether Heck could understand the wrongfulness of his conduct and it made references to sexual fantasies compromising his ability to regulate or resist urges. Irresistible impulse is not a valid defense in Pennsylvania.

Heck is being held without bail on homicide, conspiracy to commit homicide, aggravated assault and the animal cruelty charges.

The trial continues this week.

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Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve Gluck
Genevieve is the Co-Founder of Reduxx, and the outlet's Chief Investigative Journalist with a focused interest in pornography, sexual predators, and fetish subcultures. She is the creator of the podcast Women's Voices, which features news commentary and interviews regarding women's rights.