A former family physician in Berks County who was already facing rape and sexual assault charges is facing additional charges after he tried to have the victim killed while he was serving time in prison.
Justin S. Rutherford, 33, was charged with rape, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault, and more in October 2021 and incarcerated at the Berks County lockup.
Rutherford Jailed for Sexually Abusing, Secretly Recording Boys at His Home
The initial investigation into Rutherford began after Berks authorities received a tip from a child who said he was recorded by a hidden camera while showering at a friend's house. During the probe, authorities spoke to two boys who said they were sexually abused and assaulted by him.
Rutherford allegedly had recorded around 3,000 of videos and 1,400 pictures on the camera, including images of people using the shower and the toilet, according to investigators. The camera was connected to Rutherford's phone and other devices.
An Elaborate Plan to Kill Victim from Prison
But while in police custody, authorities say the former family medicine practitioner was trying to convince an unnamed individual to kill one of his alleged victims, according to charging documents.
In the criminal complaint, a Berks detective claims Rutherford began trying to solicit the boy's murder beginning around Jan. 5. The investigator wrote that Rutherford wrote down the juvenile's address, his schedule, a description of his car, a list of his interests and hobbies, and other identifying personal details. Authorities said the Rutherford also sketched out a floor plan of the boy's home.
Rutherford Told Hitman When to Kill, What to Wear
In a secretly recorded conversation, investigators said the doctor took a detail-oriented approach to the alleged plot. Rutherford was heard talking about the victim's parents' schedules, insisting the assassin show up when the boy was home alone, officials charge.
He allegedly urged the would-be hitman to wear gloves, dress in layers, and lay a tarp in the back of his car to prevent leaving behind DNA evidence, the complaint goes on to claim.
Rutherford Said He Would Withdraw his Guilty Plea After Boy's Death
Police say he discussed "knocking out" the teen — "it's painless and no evidence" — as well as burying him in the woods or crudely cremating his remains in a barrel. Rutherford said that when the boy was dead, he would reach out to his lawyer and withdraw his guilty plea in the sexual assault case, according to detectives.
He's been charged with criminal solicitation of first-degree murder, and remains in the Berks County jail in lieu of a $1 million bond, court records show. His next preliminary hearing for the solicitation case is on Feb. 21.