A Columbia woman charged with first-degree murder of her reptile-breeder husband will be released to house arrest and electronic surveillance until the date of her trial.

According to a probable cause statement, Columbia spa owner Lynlee Renick, 32, is accused of shooting her husband, Ben Renick, to death at his home in Montgomery County.

Ben Renick had a successful snake and reptile business called Renick Reptiles. He was killed June 8, 2017, while tending to his snakes. Lynlee Renick reported finding his body.

An unnamed witness came forward to police with information in January 2019. The witness said he had been in a relationship with Lynlee Renick at the time of the slaying.

When he was initially interviewed by the police in August following the murder, the unnamed witness had nothing to say. But in January 2019, his statement supported the finding of probable cause to believe a crime was committed.

According to the probable cause statement, Lynlee Renick conspired with a co-worker, Ashley Shaw, and an ex-boyfriend, Michael Humphrey, to kill Ben Renick. Her business, Ascencia Spa, was losing money, and she believed her husband would leave her because she was “sucking money out of” his business.

Humphrey, 36, of Jefferson City is also charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Ben Renick’s death.

Ascensia Spa, formerly located at 2001 Corona Road in Columbia, advertised beauty and wellness services. “I feel that spas really only touch on relaxation and coming in to get away from the stresses of life,” Lynlee wrote on her business’s Yelp page.

According to the probable cause statement, Lynlee Renick initially tried to poison her husband by giving him a protein shake laced with “an enormous amount of narcotics.” Ben Renick became extremely ill, unable to move or get out of bed because of nausea, but he survived.

The two women at the spa moved onto their next plan, involving Humphrey in the plot to shoot and kill Ben Renick, according to the witness’s statement. To keep plans or records of meetings off their cellphones, Humphrey would book massages as a cover when he came in to discuss the plot.

On June 8, 2017, Humphrey came to the spa, and he and Lynlee Renick left for the reptile farm in New Florence, the witness told police. Before they left town, they stopped for gas. Humphrey provided the gun and gloves, but Lynlee Renick was reportedly upset that he had not remembered to fill up the tank of the car.

Upon arriving at the farm, they found Ben Renick outside the snake building. Lynlee Renick introduced Humphrey as an old friend who wanted to see the snakes. After looking at the snakes, the two headed back to the car and retrieved the gun.

According to the probable cause statement, Lynlee Renick went back to the snake building, walked in and shot Ben Renick multiple times. One shot was to the head at close range. Humphrey cleaned up shell casings, and the two left the scene, according to the probable cause statement.

Lynlee Renick pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in July. The Montgomery County case was transferred to Boone County later that month. Jury selection has been set to take place in Clay County.

If a county has a population under 75,000, a defendant can request a change of venue. According to the U.S. Census, Montgomery County had a population of 11,534 in 2018.

Montgomery County Prosecutor Nathan Carroz opposed Renick’s release Friday at a hearing on her bond in Boone County Circuit Court. But the court ordered her released on her own recognizance under GPS surveillance. She was still being held Monday in the Montgomery County Jail on a $1 million cash bond, pending entry of the court’s order.

No trial date has been set in the case.

  • Covering Public Health and Safety for Fall 2020, grad student studying investigative reporting and photojournalism. You can reach me at cjmx5d@umsystem.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

  • I'm the public safety and health editor at the Missourian and a professor in the School of Journalism. I'm experienced in directing investigative projects. Call me at (573) 882-1792 with story tips, ideas or complaints.

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