Thu. May 23rd, 2024

A calculating woman dubbed a “black widow” because she spun a murderous web, including hiring her own husband as a hit man, pleaded guilty for her role in the death of her lover’s wife.

Slick-talking Nichole Houchin, copped a plea for her involvement in the horrific death of 42-year-old Dana Mackay, who was beaten to death by Houchin’s husband. Mackay was found dead in her James City County, Virginia home on July 27, 2013.

Houchin hatched her plan after her lover, John Mackay discussed killing his wife because she refused to give him a divorce. He even told Houchin he’d pay $20,000 to “help get rid of his wife.”

But Mackay’s lawyer claimed that Houchin was really the brains behind the plot. He described her as a “black widow” spider-woman who lured the three men into her devious web.

She reportedly discussed hiring a hit man with co-worker Andrew Crawford at an AutoZone in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he told her he knew someone who’d take the job.

A few weeks later, he said the person had been wounded in the hand and wouldn’t be available.

So Houchin spoke with her husband, Nace, a staff sergeant at nearby Fort Eustis. He agreed to be the killer for hire, apparently unaware of his cheating wife’s relationship with the victim’s husband.

Since police normally first suspect a cheating husband in the case of a wife’s death, the plot provided Mackay with an airtight alibi, but the pair still left a trail of incriminating evidence!

In July 2013, Mackay left Fort Eustis to visit relatives in New York.

On July 24, he texted Houchin, “Will she be gone before I get back? I’ll be forever in debt to you and will show you every day.”

Nicole wrote back, “Trying to make it happen asap.”

Two nights later, around 1 a.m. on July 26, Crawford used a credit card to jimmy a lock on the garage door, through which he, Houchin and Nace crept into the Mackay home.

Nicole and Crawford stayed downstairs while Nace raced up the stairs, kicked in the bedroom door and ferociously leaped upon Dana.

Wielding a long-handled torque wrench, he bashed the woman in the face over and over as she cried for help. He also stabbed her and cut off a finger.

The following day, during a July 27 phone call, Houchin told Mackay, “It’s done … there was a lot of screaming.”

That same day, Dana’s mom became worried when she couldn’t contact her daughter and called a neighbor to check on her. The neighbor went into the house and found Dana’s bloody body beside her bed.

Investigators began questioning area residents and soon learned that MacKay was cheating on Dana with Houchin. The big break came when a fellow soldier, to whom Mackay had earlier given a cell phone, came forward with shocking e-mails revealing the murder-for-hire plot.

After learning of Dana’s death, the soldier gave the cell phone containing Mackay and Houchin’s messages to cops. Lawmen later found a handwritten note in Nace’s wallet saying he’d killed Dana. They also learned that Crawford had burned the clothes the deadly trio wore on the bloody night and also tossed the wrench into a river.

The four plotters all pleaded guilty in exchange for lighter sentences. All four were sentenced for the 2013 murder of Dana Patterson Mackay on January 26. Nace Houchin was sentenced to 40 years behind bars. Nicole Houchin got 23 years 11 months, Mackay, 28 years 2 months — and Crawford was tossed in prison for 17 years.

At her sentencing, Nicole Houchin appeared regretful and apologized to Dana’s family, saying: “There’s nothing I can say to make you feel better. I’m glad you are getting justice for her — she didn’t deserve it. I’m sorry you have to live without her. I’m sorry she met John and me. I’m sorry I didn’t stop my husband.”

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born |