Nov. 22--Teniqu Cushman will spend nearly seven years in prison for plotting with her sugar daddy -- a Utah engineer nearly 50 years her senior who wrote her love poems -- to kill her other sugar daddy, an attack in which a Norfolk elementary school teacher was mistakenly gunned down instead.
Cushman, a 24-year-old HVAC worker from Virginia Beach, pleaded guilty last year to the one felony charge she faced: conspiring to commit first-degree murder.
She faced one to 10 years in prison heading into Friday's hearing. Circuit Judge Joseph Migliozzi Jr. sentenced her to six years and seven months, the high end of the guidelines designed to help judges impose consistent punishments across the state.
On New Year's Eve 2017, a gunman went up to 50-year-old Caroline Hendrix, a longtime pre-K teacher at Oceanair Elementary School, and opened fire as she sat inside a minivan parked in the driveway of a house in the Wards Corner area. Hendrix's boyfriend, Alex Novak, came out of the garage of the house in the 300 block of Virginian Drive and shot Hendrix's attacker, forcing him to flee.
Hendrix's parents and stepfather testified Friday about how their daughter practiced her Christianity in everything she did -- teaching her students; checking up on them, years after they'd left her classroom; delivering food for Meals on Wheels; buying bottles of water and passing them out on hot days.
Her father, Stephen Hendrix, told the judge about how a single mom of one of her students had had surgery. So Hendrix went over to her house, fixed dinner for the student, helped them with homework, and even prepared meals for the next day.
Then he turned to look at Cushman, and told her that even though she didn't literally kill his daughter, he made no distinction between the plan she put in motion and the man who carried it out.
"I consider both of you disciples of Satan," he said. "I can never forgive either of you."
Ed Shaw, a 72-year-old engineer from Sevier, Utah, who was consulting on the East Coast, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and using a gun illegally last month just as his trial was about to begin. He faces eight to 43 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in January. He had been charged with first-degree murder and was looking at a possible life sentence if convicted.
Under her plea agreement, Cushman promised to testify against Shaw if his case had gone to trial.
She never had to. But on Friday, she took the stand in her own case, telling the judge she moved away from her family and childhood home in South Carolina to strike out on her own. But she quickly got in over her head financially and was too embarrassed to ask her relatives for help.
So started prostituting herself. She was smoking a lot of weed. She estimated she was with about 10 men, all of whom were giving her money. Even after she got a job and had her own money coming in, she kept using men like Shaw. She estimated she was bringing in $5,000 to $10,000 a month.
"I got addicted to fast living," she said.
Court documents reveal the extent to which Cushman and Shaw worked together leading up to the shooting. In December 2017, the two decided Novak had to be "taught a lesson."
Cushman blamed him for upsetting her and making her feel worthless by verbally abusing her, causing her to lose her job, and telling her mother about her arrest on a prostitution charge, according to a statement Cushman signed as part of her plea agreement.
So she gave Shaw information about Novak's bank account, credit cards, vehicles and the location of his storage unit, according to the statement. Shaw supplemented this with his own online research, by hiring a private detectives, and by following Novak.
Cushman confirmed to Shaw that she wanted Novak dead immediately and told him to "work your magic fill me in as needed," according to the statement she signed.
After Hendrix died, Cushman told detectives she met Novak in spring 2016 on the dating website Plenty of Fish while she was a student at Advanced Technical Institute. Two to three weeks later, they began having sex.
During their year and a half together, Novak gave Cushman $10,000 to $13,000 to pay for, among other things, tuition, a gym membership and living expenses.
But Novak cut her off after their relationship "fizzled" in October 2017.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Novak, Cushman was also having sex with Shaw. They met in the summer of 2016 at the Oceanfront and were "friends with benefits," prosecutor Brent Johnson said at a previous court hearing. During that time, Shaw wrote her at least $15,440 in checks so she could start her own HVAC business.
Cushman told Shaw that Novak emotionally abused her to the point she would cry herself to sleep, Johnson said.
In text exchanges, according to the prosecutor, Cushman said Novak "had to be gone."
Shaw responded that the "Novak situation" would improve, Johnson said.
On New Year's Eve, Novak and Hendrix -- longtime friends -- were house sitting at a friend's home. At some point Novak had become Hendrix's boyfriend, a detective said in a police report, although it's not clear when that happened.
After Hendrix came out of the house and got in the driver's side of a white Kia minivan, Shaw came up shot her twice, thinking she was Novak, according to the statement Cushman signed.
Novak burst out of the garage and fired, hitting Shaw multiple times. As the older man fled the scene, he texted Cushman: "Shot hom. Im shot aldo" -- a garbled version of "Shot him. I'm shot also."
An hour later, Chesapeake police found Shaw parked on the side of the road. He said a stranger shot him while he was parked on the shoulder of Interstate 64, but state police said they found no evidence to support that.
In her first interview with police, Cushman told detectives she didn't know Shaw was going to try to kill Novak. She said she wanted him "gone" but that meant out of her life; she thought Shaw might go rough up Novak, get him to back off of her.
But on Friday, she admitted that was a lie. She knew Shaw was so in love with her, that he'd do anything for her, and that she gave him intel on Novak knowing full well Shaw was going go shoot him. And she did nothing to stop it.
When Shaw texted her about Novak being shot, she thought the deed was done. It was only days later that she learned the truth: Novak was fine, but a woman she'd never met had been killed.
"My whole word falls apart and I knew, because of my careless actions, someone was gone from the Earth who didn't deserve it."