jeff lytle
Jeff Lytle with wife, Rhoda, who he is alleged to have planned to have murdered for the life insurance Facebook/Jeff Lytle

A US father's alleged attempt to hire a hitman to murder his wife and four-year-old daughter has been foiled – after he accidentally texted his former boss the plan instead.

Jeff Lytle, 42, of Monroe, Washington, is accused of trying to split $1.5m (£1.2m, €1.4m) in life insurance with a would-be assassin in a botched plot to murder his family members and make it look like a "robbery gone wrong" or an accident.

His plan was foiled after text messages intended for the hitman, named as "Shayne", were instead sent to his former employer by mistake, court documents seen by local news channel KIRO 7.

The text messages are alleged to have said: "Hey Shayne hows it going. You remember you said that you would help me kill my wife. I'm going to take you up on that offer."

"... life insurance is worth 1 million and if you want a bonus you can kill [JL]. Her life insurance is 500K.

"... if you can make it look like a robbery gone wrong or make it a accident she works at Walmart she gets off at 11:00."

"I'll split everything with the insurance 50/50."

Monroe police arrested Lytle at his home on Wednesday (8 February) after his former boss called the police. He was charged with two counts of criminal solicitation for murder in the first degree.

When interviewed by officers, Lytle allegedly told them he had no intention of going ahead with the murder plot and had only written the messages to "vent". He said his young daughter may have sent them by mistake.

His wife has been named on social media as Rhoda Mee Funtanilla Lytle, with her Facebook page showing photos of the smiling couple playing with their young daughter.

Lytle, who reportedly filed for bankruptcy in 2003, is being held in Snohomish County jail on a $1m bond.