NBC Dateline’s ‘The Target’ follows the murder conspiracy plot hatched to murder a mother of three named Susan Bernstein in Rockland County, New York State, in 2016. Luckily, the sinister plan could not be executed as a key individual came forward to the authorities and worked undercover, aiding them in catching the perpetrators. If you’re intrigued and want to know what happened, here’s what we know.
What Happened to Susan Bernstein?
To the uninitiated, Ira and Susan Bernstein were living the perfect American dream – the couple had three children, a successful career, and a sprawling 13,000 square-foot home, complete with a pool, pool house, tennis court, and nearby lake. Ira and Susan met at a fraternity party at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1990s. A quick romance ensued, with them getting married in 2002 as the former attended medical school and Susan pursued higher-level degrees in education.
After graduating from medical school, Ira opened a successful chain of foot surgery centers across Rockland County and lived in Ramapo with his family. However, his marriage was falling apart by 2012, as he claimed his wife was racking up enormous credit card bills to around $40,000 per month. Ira and Susan’s relationship further deteriorated when the latter discovered her husband was having an affair with one of his former patients, Kelly Myzner Gribeluk.
According to news reports, the couple decided to have an open marriage as a last resort to keep their marriage together. Albeit, this desperate attempt to save their wedlock failed within three months. Soon, Susan filed a restraining order against Ira after he allegedly physically and verbally abused her and their children. The couple decided to give their broken marriage another try after a few months. They reconciled, and Susan withdrew the restraining order, yet their reunion did not last long.
According to a recording shown on the show, Susan warned Ira by saying he was going to jail. On the show, his girlfriend, Kelly, claimed that his marital problems were stressing him out, and that was when they decided to get Susan murdered in 2016. According to the show, Kelly had found a sympathetic shoulder in Marckensy Louissaint, a New York car salesman at a luxury car dealership, while she was going through her divorce. On the show, he stated he had told her to contact him if she needed any help, as he had a few contacts to help her.
Marckensy stressed on the show that he meant his “close friend on the police force,” but Kelly had mistaken it for contractual killers. He said, “She (Kelly) sounded like she was so desperate to get this done, I think any little affirmation she would force herself to believe in.” Nevertheless, the father of four decided to play along and contacted the authorities behind her back. At this point, he was recruited as an amateur sleuth by the police, working undercover, as law enforcement officials equipped his car with a video camera and microphone. The police instructed Marckensy to meet Kelly and Ira and try to get incriminating evidence on record for them to be arrested.
Where is Susan Bernstein Now?
Over several meetings, Marckensy could get Kelly on record saying many incriminating statements. In the various clippings obtained by the show producers, the viewers see her saying, “It can’t be a robbery. It can’t be a (sic) shooting. It can’t be anything like that.” Besides, Kelly was recorded divulging more detail by stating, “What about like a — either a hit and run, like, when she’s getting out of the car, or, like, plain an accident. Somebody backed into her, and the guy stays and says, ‘I didn’t see her.’ You know, it’s plainly an accident, so there’s no investigation.”
According to the episode, Ira and Kelly negotiated with Marckensy and set the price around $100,000. But the police were met with a dilemma when Kelly proposed the contractual killers complete a minor task before the hit on Susan was arranged. They wanted to get the men to beat two insurance investigators scrutinizing Ira’s business. The law enforcement officials collaborated with the insurance investigators and had detailed but fake photographs created.
However, the couple became slightly suspicious when they noticed the camera between the car seats. Though Marckensy could convince them, they were apprehensive and refused to meet inside his car anymore. At this point, the investigators decided they had enough evidence and arrested the pair in May 2016. Ira and Kelly were charged with conspiracy to commit Susan’s murder, and her former husband was also held guilty of conspiring to assault the insurance investigators.
When Ramapo police detectives informed Susan about the murder conspiracy, she said, “Actually, I’m not shocked.” During the trial, she accused Ira of being evil and stated, “This man was willing to kill his own daughter.” According to Susan, he had allegedly decided to go with the plan even if “the couple’s oldest daughter, who has special needs, was with her.” She stated her husband showed no remorse and alleged, “For years, he threatened to murder me. The damage is permanent. The pain is unbearable.”
According to news reports, Susan has been demanding that her husband transfer ownership of the four properties and pay $20,000 for her legal costs. She has also advocated making New York’s conspiracy laws more stringent, similar to other states. Susan said it was “appalling” that those convicted would only be imprisoned for a few years. She said, “I realized right away that something was not right, especially if they had been charged federally or in another state, and that New York needed to follow suit. I realized there are past victims that it would not help, but knowing there are future victims that it will.” Currently, Susan continues to live with her three children in Ramapo.