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Contributed photo from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Jerry McDonald has been charged with solicitation to commit murder.

A Chattanooga man has been charged in an alleged murder plot.

Jerry McDonald, 49, an Erlanger Lifeforce special operations manager and volunteer reserve officer for the city of Red Bank, has been charged with solicitation to commit murder after law enforcement officials discovered a text message exchange between McDonald and 39-year-old Vanessa Nelson.

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According to an affidavit of complaint filed with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, an off-duty officer was told by an unnamed woman that she felt her life was in danger Saturday. The woman told police about the text messages at that time, claiming she discovered them while trying to contact McDonald's boss to let him know he wouldn't be coming in for his shift that afternoon. He was "passed out drunk" most of the morning, she told police.

Segments of the text message exchange between McDonald and Nelson are included in the affidavit. In them, the two discuss a plan to kill the unnamed woman and enjoy the financial benefits of her death.

"Do I need to kill her," Nelson asked.

McDonald responded: "Please kill her babe, please. I'm begging you."

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According to the affidavit, McDonald also wrote: "I'm saying we kill her and I collect a million and we live like the kings and queens we are."

McDonald also mentioned the woman's father having "over a million" in a safe that he could steal without getting caught.

"I'm not even joking. All I want is you babe. That's all I care about," McDonald wrote to Nelson, according to the affidavit.

Around 1 p.m. Saturday, police conducted an interview with the unnamed woman in which she stated she was married to McDonald for two years but had known him for 20. In all that time, the woman told police McDonald never joked around in a manner that would reflect what was written in the texts. She also told them she was not sure what McDonald was capable of, according to the affidavit.

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An arrest warrant was issued, and McDonald was booked into the Hamilton County jail. He is being held on a $75,000 bond.

Erlanger Lifeforce appears to have removed information about McDonald from its website over the weekend.

Red Bank spokesperson Bridgett Raper said McDonald has been placed on administrative leave from his volunteer reserve officer position pending an investigation.

Contact Kelcey Caulder at kcaulder@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.

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