Murder-for-Hire: Three Behind Bars over Fight for Family Fortune

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

We have an update to a twisted murder plot out of Central Texas.Thursday authorities arrested a third suspect in the murder of 86-year old Bonnie Harkey.

"This is a tragedy for San Saba County,” said San Saba County Sheriff L. A. Brown.

Investigators say it's an inconceivable murder for hire plot -- that was planted by greed.

“She's a wonderful person, been involved in a lot of things and done a lot of good things for people,” said Brown.

It all began in San Saba County on Sunday, where a 10-year-old boy would find his mother, 50-year-old Karen Johnson, dead inside the home of 86-year-old Bonnie Harkey.

Harkey was nowhere to be found.

A confession reveals 86-year-old Harkey was beaten over the head and kidnapped by her adopted grandson, Carl Pressley, and his common-law-wife Lillian King. Reports say King drove nearly 200 miles away to Hilltop Lakes where she and Pressley were renting a trailer in the Indian woods campgrounds.

Harkey was then strangled, drowned and dumped in a shallow grave. Affidavits obtained from the San Saba Count Sheriff's office say water was found in Harkey's lungs, which leads investigators to believe that Pressley buried his grandmother alive.

According to Associated Press, Carl Pressley was unreachable for hours Saturday night, and when he finally surfaced the news was not good.

"Man, I'm not trying to avoid you, but my grandmother passed away. I'll talk to you later," the Texan said in a phone message, according to a friend who received the voice mail.

Pressley confessed to police he carried out the murder plot after Bruce Harkey offered $500 up front to quote: "make her gone this weekend." When the plan was executed -- Bonnie Harkey's stepson, Bruce, would give Pressley $55,000. On Wednesday, Harkey was arrested on a criminal solicitation of capital murder warrant.

All three suspects are now in jail waiting on what could be a long road to justice for two innocent central Texas women.

According to reports - records in San Saba County show Harkey's children and stepchildren have filed multiple court documents in a fight over who should be listed as Harkey's guardians and what should happen to her considerable fortune.

Funeral arrangements are set for both victims.

Bonnie Harkey's funeral is this Sunday, at First Baptist Church of San Saba. Visitation will also take place at the church on Sunday, from 1 to 2. Karen Johnson's funeral will be held at 2pm Friday at "The Father's House" church in San Saba.

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