Gary Tyrrell, 60, and his wife, Jan Tyrrell, 61, were found dead in their Springfield, Missouri, home two years ago. Authorities say that the couple was murdered by Mark Porter, a long-time friend who needed cash to settle some gambling debts. This Sunday, Dateline NBC will re-air the episode based on their case, which is titled, “The Collector.” On that episode, Missouri police officials, friends, and family members, including the daughter of Gary and Jan Tyrrell will all discuss the case.
A Murder At Home
It was April 2014, when Jan and Gary Tyrrell’s daughter, Jessica Tyrrell-Murray, went to her parents South Greenbriar Avenue home to check on them since they were not answering the phone. When she arrived, she found both cars in the garage, which let her know right away that something was deadly wrong.
When police came out to the scene, they found Jan Tyrrell’s dead body downstairs and Gary Tyrrell’s body upstairs. Jan had been hit over the head with an object, which turned out to be a walrus tusk, and her husband, Gary, had been beaten and shot.
A Home Invasion Or A Deadly Friend?
At first, it looked like a home invasion, except all of the expensive collectibles seemed to be in place. Upon closer inspection, detectives could tell that someone had made an attempt to get inside the safe. Then, family members noticed that someone had been at Gary Tyrrell’s desk and some other collectibles had been moved around.
This looked like an inside job by someone who knew The Tyrrells. The retired assistant superintendent was known and liked by most everyone in the area, and though his business put him in contact with many people, it didn’t appear that it was dangerous for him.
Police began looking more closely at family members, particularly Gary and Jan Tyrrell’s daughter and her husband, who were eventually ruled out as suspects. However, once they spoke with Mark Porter, a friend of almost 20 years who had also worked with Gary, it was obvious that he was hiding something.
An Unlikely Suspect
The investigation revealed that Mark Porter was supposed to meet up with Gary on the night that he was killed. But, Mark stated that Gary never showed up. Police also learned that Mark Porter owed Gary hundreds of thousands of dollars for a loan and had actually been at the couple’s residence on the night of the murder. Even more disturbing was the fact that Mark Porter sold some collectible silver coins the day after the murders. DNA evidence later linked Mark Porter to evidence at the scene, according to KMBC.
“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.”
In the end, Mark Porter was arrested and ended up pleading guilty to the murders. A judge sentenced him to life in prison. Family members and friends were completely shocked, not only by the deaths of Jan and Gary Tyrrell, but that they had been killed by a close friend and a well-respected member of the community. An obituary found at Legacy for Jan and Gary Tyrrell provided a lovely description of them. Here is an excerpt.
“Gary and Jan were married on May 5, 1984 in Jefferson City, Missouri. Gary and Jan both loved to garden. Gary prided in his roses, watched and named the birds, squirrels, shrews, chipmunks, and a possum that lived in his back yard. Jan had a separate kitchen in their home to can and process the year’s produce. She loved to quilt, sew, and knit. Her latest project was weaving/knitting hats for Oncology patients at Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She also enjoyed growing all kinds of flowers and helping Gary name all the critters in the back yard. He left his pet hamster, Sweetie, to morn his death.”
To see just how detectives put the pieces of the puzzle together, watch Dateline NBC this Sunday, July 31. Check your local listings for exact times. Dateline’s other episodes featured the cases of Kathryn Laird and Matthew Podolak.
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