Ex-school superintendent charged in couple's death

Saturday, August 16, 2014 | 9:17 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD — A former Missouri high school superintendent has been charged with killing a Springfield couple, according to court documents.

Mark Porter, 53, of Ozark was charged Friday with two counts of first-degree murder in the May 1 deaths of Gary Tyrrell, 60, and his wife, 61-year-old Jan Tyrrell. Gary Tyrrell was shot to death and his wife died of apparent blunt force trauma to the head, Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said in a news release.

Porter was superintendent at the Mountain Grove School District when Gary Tyrrell was assistant superintendent, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

Gary Tyrrell dealt in precious metals and gemstones and the couple's home was filled with high-end items, police said. The couple and Porter were long-time friends and Porter was one of the few people allowed into their home. However, Gary Tyrrell had recently declined to loan Porter $250,000, according to charging documents.

Officers discovered the couple's bodies after their daughter reported she had been unable to contact them. Police said they found no signs of forced entry at the home. It appeared that someone had tried to break into a safe in the couple's basement but other expensive items in the house were not touched, according to the probable cause statement.

Investigators also discovered Porter had sold $18,531 in silver coins the day after the couple's bodies were found, and documents in the Tyrrell's home showed they had silver coins valued at $22,000.

Investigators linked Porter to the crime when DNA found on a latex glove found near Jan Tyrrell's body matched DNA on a coffee cup that had been discarded by Porter and retrieved by an undercover officer, according to the court documents filed by prosecutors.

Porter told police before his arrest that he had planned to meet Gary Tyrrell at a McDonald's on April 30 and when Tyrrell did not show up, he went to the couple's home but was unable to contact them.

Gary Tyrrell worked for Mountain Grove district as teacher, principal and administrator until he retired in 2005. Porter was superintendent in Mountain Grove from 2003 to June 2005, when he moved to the Wright City School District near St. Louis before retiring in 2008, according to the school district.

The case was not entered into the state's online court records on Saturday and it was not immediately clear if Porter has an attorney.

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