WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — It was news that shocked everyone when Melisa Schonfield, previously a North Country resident, was arrested after being caught hiring a hitman in an attempt to kill her grandson’s father.
The story which drove Melisa to commit this crime began when her only daughter was pregnant with what would soon be the Schonfield’s grandson in Florida.
Melisa said her daughter’s boyfriend at the time, her grandson’s father, was abusive, creating dangerous situations, driving her daughter to move home to the North Country in 2014.
“I could not even hug my daughter,” she said. “To come around and hug her, if you surprised her she would jump six feet in the air. So I knew there was other trauma she wasn’t discussing.”
However, the situation continued to get worse even after her daughter moved home, which Melisa said left her with no other choice. Melisa then sought to hire a hitman to kill her grandson’s father, eventually agreeing to pay a claimed “hitman” $11,000 to kill the man in Flordia.
At the time, Schonfield was a social worker who lived in Dexter, New York with her husband, who was a local dentist.
Her “hitman,” was actually an undercover cop. But not knowing this, she agreed to meet him in the Watertown Walmart parking lot, pay him half of the agreed price and told him to “throw the body to alligators.”
However, shortly after this meeting, Melisa was taken into custody by law enforcement shortly after in the Ramada parking lot.
She pled guilty to attempted murder in 2015 and was sentenced to five years in prison in the Taconic Correctional Facility in Westchester County. She would spend 1,385 days there.
During her time incarcerated journaled all of her experiences. However, through the grueling condition in prison and finally realized what she did.
“[Prison] teaches you to either be who you want to be and see that forward,” Schonfield said. “Or, react, and it’s not going to end well for you.”
Shortly after being released, she worked on publishing a book, comprised of journal entries she wrote while she was behind bars. The book is titled “Bitter or Better,” written by the “inmate formerly known as 15g0717.”
Looking back, she said what she would change.
“There were other things I could’ve done but I couldn’t see them at the time,” she explained. “I became reactive. I didn’t think there were any other options. So what I would change, is telling people what I was going through.”