What seemed like senseless killing -- a gas station robbery gone wrong -- has taken a much more sinister twist. Karla Porter, wife of William Raymond Porter III, was arrested Saturday after attending her dead husband's viewing and charged with first-degree murder. Police allege that Karla, along with her brother, sister, nephew and two friends, arranged to have her husband murdered.
Police responded to a call on the morning of March 1 to find William Porter dead from multiple gunshot wounds at the Hess gas station he owned in Towson, Md.
Originally police believed Mr. Porter, 49, was shot during an attempted robbery, and offered a reward of $10,000 for information leading to an arrest. But police say a witness came forward shortly after the death claiming Karla Porter, 47, was actually behind the whole thing.
Along with the victim's wife, her brother, sister, nephew, and two friends were taken into custody on charges related to his death. They asked to have their bail reviewed and were denied.
According to the Statement of Probable Cause provided by the Baltimore County, Md., police department, Karla Porter admitted she hired someone to beat up her husband. The statement also says she admitted she got the gun used to murder William Porter from her sister, Susan Datta, and in turn gave the gun to Walter Bishop, a friend, several days before the shooting.
The Porters owned the gas station for 15 years.
Police say Karla claimed originally that on the morning of his death, a black man followed her into the building as she worked on an outside oil display, shot her husband in the head with a handgun, and then fled.
Lt. Robert McCullough of the county police department said, "We had a witness that came forward on the day of the shooting who indicated to investigators that she [Karla] had approached him or her to recruit that person to kill her husband."
According to police, the witness told the Baltimore County police that Karla said she was having marital problems and that her husband was abusive. The witness also allegedly said Karla claimed she could lure William to one of their properties where the witness could "bang" William. Police say the witness interpreted that statement to mean she wanted William killed and she wanted the witness to do it.
According to McCullough, the witness said Karla suggested the plan in December 2009, but the witness refused to take part. On March 6, the day of the funeral, police say Karla again contacted the witness and offered money to keep her earlier plan quiet. She was arrested shortly after making the payment, after reportedly attending her husband's viewing the day before his funeral.
Reports from the Baltimore Sun say Karla Porter passed out bookmarks and wildflowers in her husbands memory at the viewing, and she even handed out a letter allegedly signed in his name stating he'd like his organs donated. According to police the next day at William Porter's funeral, officers had to respond to an altercation allegedly between members of Karla and Williams's family.
According to police reports, on March 1, William Porter went into work at 3 a.m. after receiving a call that there had been an alarm at the gas station. But police say Dunbar Alarm systems reported that no alarm went off that morning.
Investigators allege that Karla Porter, 47, feigned the alarm call to her husband by using her cell phone, and after William left the house, she alerted her fellow defendants to move to their location near the gas station. Police say that with the help of her nephew, Seamus Coyle, she was referred to Walter Bishop, who actually shot and killed William Porter, and earned $9,000 to do so.
The police say Karla's brother, Calvin Mower, also assisted her, along with a friend, Matthew Brown, while her sister, Susan Datta, provided her with the gun.
According to the police report, "Karla Porter acknowledged hiring someone to beat up her husband. She said she recently met with the defendant, Seamus Coyle. During their meeting she told Coyle about the problems she was having with her husband William. Coyle told her that he had someone to take care of the problem."
According to police, Karla Porter has maintained she only wanted her husband beaten up. Police disagree.
"The information gathered during this investigation revealed that Karla Porter wanted her husband, William Porter, murdered," the report says.
Those who knew the Porters said they were surprised and shocked that Karla was capable of such a thing. Betty Bailey, a longtime friend and neighbor, told ABC affiliate WMAR-TV, "She was real friendly, very gracious as a person. She was very giving, very giving person."
According to McCullough, all defendants are currently being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center. The defendants appeared via live video-feed Monday for a bail review hearing. They were all denied bail and have requested to speak with attorneys. Karl Porter already had an attorney, Frank Pommett who was in court Monday and spoke outside to reporters. According to reports Pommett said he had known Karla Porter for a "couple of years" and that she was is a "very generous person."
William and Karla Porter had five children and one grandchild.