The True Story Behind Glen Powell’s Character in ‘Hit Man’

Yes, but not in the way Hollywood would have you think of them. While history is certainly riddled with enforcers for gangs and organized crime families, the average person can’t just Google “how to hire a hit man” and pay someone to do the deed. (Dark-web murder commission sites like Slayers Hitmen and Azerbaijani Eagles, are, in fact, scams, with no known murder attributed to any of them.)

Earlier this year, Dennis Kenney, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told The New York Times that the average person’s idea of a slick, skilled hit man is “pretty much myth,” adding that a contract killer is usually “nothing more than a thug who offers or agrees to a one-off payday.”

“Which is why they get caught,” he said.

The actor Woody Harrelson’s father, Charles Voyde Harrelson, for one, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1973 after killing a grain dealer in Texas for $2,500. Then, once he was released after only five years (because of good behavior), he was convicted in 1982 of murdering a federal district judge, a job for which he charged a drug dealer $250,000. He was serving two life sentences when he died of a heart attack in prison in 2007 at age 68.

Also, mobsters.

According to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, there were just seven arrests statewide for contract killing or attempts in 2022. And that was an atypical year: The seven arrests matched the total for the five previous years combined.

Nationally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation works undercover on about 70 to 90 murder-for-hire cases each year.

Estimates vary depending on factors like the difficulty of the hit and the prominence of the target, but according to F.B.I. news releases, fees have ranged from $25,000 to kill a spouse to $600 for a girlfriend.

Yes, and thanks to a long line of hit-man movies like David Fincher’s “The Killer,” a substantial subset of the population believes that if they just search hard enough, they’ll be able to find someone willing to murder anyone for cold, hard cash.

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