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'Welcome to Sweetie Pie's' star accused of murder-for-hire killing of nephew in St. Louis

James Timothy "Tim" Norman had taken out a $450,000 life insurance policy on his nephew, on which he was the sole beneficiary

ST. LOUIS — One of the stars of the reality show centered around St. Louis soul food restaurant Sweetie Pie's was charged in connection with a murder-for-hire plot that left his nephew dead back in 2016.

James Timothy "Tim" Norman, 41, was charged with conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder-for-hire resulting in death in connection with the March 14, 2016, death of 21-year-old Andre Montgomery. Terica Ellis, an exotic dancer from Memphis who investigators said was Norman's accomplice, was arrested and charged with the same crime.

According to charging documents, Norman, in 2014, took out a life insurance policy on his nephew, Montgomery, on which he was the sole beneficiary. Charging documents said he made multiple false statements in acquiring the policy.

Less than two years later, on March 14, 2016, Montgomery was shot and killed. 

According to charging documents, Ellis and Norman came to St. Louis from out of town the day before the deadly shooting.

They each purchased and activated temporary cellphones at the same store the next day. Documents said Ellis and Norman stayed in contact throughout the day using the phones.

At around 8 p.m., Montgomery left the house he was in on the 3900 block of Natural Bridge Road to take a phone call. While he was outside, he was shot and killed. 

RELATED: Grandson of "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's" star killed in North St. Louis shooting

Phone records showed that phone call was with the cellphone Ellis bought and activated earlier that day, and that Montgomery, earlier in the night, had texted her the address of the house where he was eventually murdered.

GPS data from Ellis' phone showed she was at the home at the time of the deadly shooting, and her first call after the shooting was to Norman.

Shortly after the shooting, she was back on the road returning to Memphis. Both of the temporary cellphones were deactivated less than a day after the shooting, charging documents said.

Days later, Ellis deposited more than $9,000 in cash into multiple bank accounts. One of the accounts was opened the day after the deadly shooting. Prior to the homicide, she had a negative balance, charging documents said.

Over the next week, Norman attempted to collect on the life insurance policy, but the company did not pay because Norman failed to provide several documents. That same week, he also met up with Ellis in Los Angeles, GPS data from different cellphones showed.

Norman also sent Ellis $700 using Western Union on April 30, charging documents said.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI are still investigating.

A press release from the Department of Justice's Eastern District of Missouri said the arrests were part of Operation Legend, a “sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime,” according to the Department of Justice.

RELATED: 50 federal agents coming to St. Louis to combat violent crime

The initiative is named in honor of 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept early in the morning of June 29 in Kansas City. Operation Legend first launch in Kansas City, Missouri on July 8.

U.S. Attorney Jensen was joined by St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Judge Jimmie Edwards, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Attorney General Eric Schmitt and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief John Hayden at a Thursday afternoon press conference.

Jensen said 50 Department of Homeland Security law enforcement officers will come to St. Louis and will be supplemented by the Missouri Highway Patrol.

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