We all know that when someone is murdered authorities first look at those closest to the victim. This is never more true than when someone is murdered in their home and there does not appear to be any forced entry. This was the case in the murders of Gary Tyrrell and his wife Jan in Springfield Missouri. Not only were they murdered in their home that showed no sign of forced entry but their home was full of very high priced valuables and at first appearance nothing seemed to be missing. A walk in safe in the basement had pry marks on it indicating someone tried to get inside but again, at first look the home still seemed to have many valuables inside. Sixty year old Gary had been shot twice and his sixty-one year old wife looked to have been beaten by what was described as a “rare engraved walrus tusk.”
The couple were found on May 1, 2014 by their only child, daughter Jessica. She told authorities that she became concerned when she could not reach her parents. Investigators looked hard at Jessica and her husband. It was pretty obvious that Jessica, and by proxy her husband, would be the number one person to benefit from the death of her wealthy parents. Her parents would have obviously let her inside or it would be common that she had her own key to their home, hence the lack of forced entry. The fact that nothing seemed to be missing also made it more possible that Jessica was a suspect. Why would she need to steal anything out of the home when it would all soon be given to her anyway? It was apparently a few day before they actually discovered that several thousand dollars of rare coins were missing from the home. However, in fairness to the investigators, they still had to look at Jessica. I mean how did they know from the outset that they were missing or that they were not just made to appear to be missing? In my opinion this case is one of those that could have ruined an innocent person's life if the investigators used tunnel vision and would have continued to focus on Jessica. But, they did not and pretty much early on felt she was innocent and started looking elsewhere.
Later in the month investigators brought in a man named Mark Porter to be interviewed. According to friends and family of the couple Mark and Gary were the best of friends. They had apparently met when Porter was the school superintendent of Mountain Grove schools and Gary was his assistant superintendent. Porter left in 2004 and became superintendent of the Wright City school until he announced his retirement in 2007 but Mark and Porter had remained friends. However, when investigators talked to him he first indicated that while they were in fact friends, he seemed to downplay just how good of friends they were. Porter's interview left a bad taste in the investigators' mouths. Not only was Porter seemingly distancing himself from the couple by his comments but he admitted that he was supposed to meet Gary on April 30th, the night investigators believed the couple had died, but Gary had not shown up. Porter even admitted to going to the home but claimed he simply drove by and did not even get out and knock. This struck the investigators as odd because Porter seemed to go several miles out of his way to simply drive by the home and not stop according to him. Too add to this by the time investigators talked to Porter they knew that Porter had asked Gary recently for a loan of approximately $250,000 but Gary had refused. Once again Porter downplayed this request of Gary and indicated that he did not have money issues. At this interview investigators asked Porter for a sample of his DNA. There had been a latex glove found near Jan's body and they were looking to eliminate the source. Porter refused, once again raising the radar of investigators.
For the next several weeks investigators continued to look into Porter. They followed him attempting to get a DNA sample. During this time they also discovered that on May 2nd, the day after the bodies were found a man matching Porter's description had gone in a store and traded in over $18,000 of silver coins. It was said that most of Gary Tyrrell's collection was gone and their value was nearly $22,000. Investigators were eventually able to obtain Porter's DNA from a coffee cup he discarded at an automobile business. In August of 2014 the results came back as a match to the DNA found on the latex glove at the crime scene.
Porter was charged with two counts of first degree murder and was facing the death penalty. In August of 2015 he pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree murder all in attempts to avoid death. The judge gave him the maximum sentence allowed, two life sentences. He will be over 80 years old before he's eligible for parole but the judge promised to do everything he could to make sure that never happened. Most believe the then 54 year old Porter will die in prison.
In April of 2016 Jessica Tyrrell- Murray filed a wrongful death suit against Porter. The case will likely not be settled for years. Sometimes people are given a hard time for filing such suits and I can imagine Jessica may have face some backlash considering that she got an extensive estate from her parents. However, material items do not replace companionship. But, another reason these types of cases are often filed is for legal reasons to prevent Porter from ever benefiting in any way from his crime. Whether the latter was the case here is inconsequential to me, but for others that may be an interesting fact. The fact of the matter is that at the time of the murder Porter was working for IBM and between his salary and his pension from his job as school superintendent he was earning nearly $300,000 a year but he was nearly that, if not more in debt. Porter had a gambling problem and authorities believe this was why he had asked Gary Tyrrell for a loan. Some claim he already owed the Tyrrell's money and they were aware of Porter's gambling issues. Authorities believe Gary's refusal to give him the loan and the fact that Porter knew the valuables in the Tyrrell home was the motive for their murder.
Apparently Porter learned nothing as there have been reports that he continues to gamble in whatever way he can while in prison.