In November of 2013, an Arkansas man named James Macom came home to find something wrong with his kitchen. His stove, for some reason, had malfunctioned, and gas was leaking out. Gone undetected, that can be very dangerous — gas leaks can be fatal. While most gas leaks are accidental, Macom’s seemed fishy: it looked as if someone had broken into his home and tampered with the stove. If Macom didn’t know better, he’d have suspected that someone was trying to kill him.
But Macom did know better — he knew someone was trying to kill him.
Luckily, he was saved by a butt.
Macom used to work at a car dealership owned by a guy named Larry Barnett. Barnett, 68 at the time of the gas leak, and Macom, 33, didn’t part ways on good terms. As TIME reported, the two were in “an ongoing dispute over unpaid wages and ownership of a vehicle.” Barnett, unbeknownst to Macom (or, if Macom knew this, it has gone unreported), wasn’t the most honest of characters — he’d soon be indicted for forgery. Police alleged that Barnett’s business involved tens of thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent car sales. Barnett, police claimed, had presented bogus bills of sale to the bank to get financing, but the Vehicle Identification Numbers on the bills of sale were for a cars that Barnett never owned nor sold (and may have never existed).
Barnett, it follows, wasn’t one to worry so much about potential jail time when money was on the line. So that November, he reportedly came up with a solution for his James Macom problem: murder. Barnett allegedly hired a hitman to do the dirty work, and to do that, Barnett needed to provide the assassin with some instructions — what to do and, importantly, where to do it.
So Barnett did what anyone in this situation would do: he looked up Macom’s contact info where he had it most readily available. That happened to be in Barnett’s cell phone contacts. With the hitman on the other line — again, this is all as alleged by the police and district attorney — Barnett read off Macom’s address. Then, Barnett put his phone back in his pocket and, probably, sat down.
This was a mistake. Because as Barnett continued talking, his rear began dialing.
Macom answered the phone to hear Barnett handing out his contact information, according to reports. Per an ABC News story, police claimed that Barnett wanted the would-be-murderer to “make it look like an accident” and if necessary, to burn Macom’s house down. Macom called the police in Barnett’s town and went home, discovering evidence of a break in and of the plot against his life. He escaped harm.
Barnett, as of this writing, has not been convicted of the crimes alleged. His backside was unavailable for further comment.
From the Archives: Boom Goes the Natural Gas Pipeline: A really neat story about sabotage and subterfuge.
Related: A gas leak detector. Just in case.